Sublime Soccer

sublime ( ) adj. Characterized by nobility; majestic. Of high spiritual, moral, or intellectual worth.

We are now in Day 2 of the 48 hour hiatus between second round matches and the quarterfinals of the 2006 World Cup, and I’m having serious withdrawal symptoms. Seems like a good time to review a couple of the more beautiful goals so far in this tournament.

I believe Argentina is a serious contender with a good chance of advancing to the final. Mexico, however, pushed them to the limit, and as many have commented, if you’re going to go down in the World Cup, you might as well die from a golden goal like that of Argentina’s Maxi Rodriguez.

For those of you who didn’t see it, you can go here and watch how Rodriguez took a 30 yard cross, chested it down, and then struck the ball before it hit the ground (a volley), looping it over the fingertips of a stunned Mexican keeper. It was a goal of a lifetime, probably never to be duplicated again, but what a time to hit it! Although he made it look easy, as someone who has been knocked flat on his back by balls like that, I can assure it’s not. Yet, the wonderful thing about soccer is that a player like Rodriguez, although relatively unknown, has the opportunity to step up on the biggest soccer stage in the world and seal his legacy in Cup history with one sublime strike of his foot. Joga Bonito!

My second favorite goal thus far was Ronaldo’s goal against Ghana which lifted him to the status of all-time leading goal-scorer in Cup history with 15 goals. The video is here, and what you’ll see, first of all, is a tremendous off-the-ball run for someone who is supposed to be “overweight,” followed by a classic, “scissors” step-over move to get around the Ghanan keeper.

I taught the “scissors” to every player U10 player that I coached over the years. I felt like it was important that they master at least one “move” that they could use in 1 v. 1 situations, and the “scissors” was always the easiest for me to teach and for my 8 and 9-year-old charges to learn. I drilled it into them so hard that often they would try to use it at least once per match (even if there was no defensive pressure) just so they could hear me yell, “Well done” from the sideline.

So imagine my delight when a world-class player like Ronaldo uses the “scissors” to cut up the Ghanan defense and score a goal. You’ll rarely see an American player use any move at all in a match, relying instead on pure speed to try to beat a defender. That’s all well and good, but international level defenders are fast too, and often what is needed is a majestic move at just the right moment to juke your marker right out of his boots. Maybe if all recreational and club coaches in America teach their players the “scissors” and other similar moves, perhaps one day the U.S. will have its own Ronaldo, a player who can single-handedly take charge and change the course of a match, and history as well.

With so many teams with storied World Cup histories in the quarterfinals, there is certainly more sublime soccer to come. Stay tuned, and wherever you are and whatever you are doing, “Joga Bonito!”

  1. Brady

    Good review. Those were some great goals. I also liked Zidane’s goal, though not in the same class.

    If only the Swiss could have put in one or two like that.

  2. Mike the Eyeguy

    Zidane’s finish was not breathtaking, but it didn’t have to be. Basically, a nice hook which caught the keeper on the wrong foot.

    But what I really liked about that goal was his fine touch and calm, cool demeanor leading up to the shot. So many players would have lost it being open like that and tried to do too much with the opportunity. But not a crusty vet like Zidane.

  3. Jason

    Dude, you are serious about your soccer.

  4. Nancy

    Um… was there some sort of game going on lately?

  5. Mike the Eyeguy


    Is there any other way?


    Heh. Very funny.

  6. hermit Jeremy

    man, we were in no soccer-landia of rural ohio family reunion this weekend… what a rotten weekend to be away from the TV!

    yeah, i would practice the scissor kick endlessly when we were in costa rica, then we moved to louisiana and they didn’t have soccer and then the dominican republic and they had even less soccer.

    it is sad that no american team will be there… oh! argentina, i do cry for you, i do cry for you!

  7. Mike the Eyeguy


    No soccer in the Dominican Republic? Oh, yeah, baseball…

    Alas, Argentina fell, even after arguably outplaying the Germans. Yes, that song came to my mind too as the Albicelestes met a cruel end in yet another PK-ending match. I’m still wondering what caused the ugly tussle at the end.

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