Spain’s 1-0 victory over the Netherlands on Sunday marked the end of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Africa’s first-ever World Cup ended with a first-time champion. Menace players share their final thoughts, including an early prediction for the 2014 champion. Check out the other Menace World Cup profiles; the first comes right after the start of knockout stage and the second just before the semi-finals.
Jake Wright (United States)
The Menace goalkeeper believes Spain was a worthy winner, even if the championship game was a subpar performance by both teams. Wright believes Spain was the best team for the whole tournament and had such quality players which gave opposing managers nightmares.
“It was a good game, but it was a little boring at times,” Wright said. “Spain was definitely deserving (of a title).”
Uruguay’s Diego Forlan was awarded the Golden Ball, an honor given to the tournament’s most outstanding player. Wright said no question Forlan was the best player in the World Cup. He said the Atletico Madrid striker carried Uruguay and nearly led the team to its first appearance in the final since 1950.
“Forlan kept bringing them (Uruguay) back,” Wright said. “He had three or four world-class goals.”
As for the tournament’s best goalkeeper, Wright said that honor goes to Maarten Stekelenburg, the Netherlands’ net minder who provided some of the tournament’s best highlights. The Dutchman came up with clutch saves the whole tournament and was instrumental in holding off Spain’s relentless attack in the championship. Despite his efforts, it was Spanish captain Iker Casillas who was awarded the Golden Glove for the tournament’s best keeper.
“They (Netherlands) won every game before the final, and he (Stekelenburg) kept them in the game (championship),” Wright said. “There was nothing he could do about that last goal.”
Wright is satisfied with the United States’ performance in the World Cup and hopes that the team will build on its success. He is happy the nation became excited about soccer and believes the team will be even better in the next World Cup.
Brazil will host the 2014 World Cup. Even though Spain may be equipped to be tops in the world for years to come, Wright was not ready to crown it as global soccer king just yet.
2014 World Cup winner: Brazil
Stefan De Las (Trinidad & Tobago)
De Las had the unfortunate pleasure of being the only international player on the Menace whose home country did not qualify for the World Cup. Trinidad & Tobago made its first trip to the World Cup in 2006, but De Las said that team was an older squad. The team has gone through three coaches since then and is in the process of a rigorous rebuilding stage.
“There’s been lots of rebuilding and they’re trying to implement youth into the program,” De Las said.
However, his country’s absence did not diminish his interest in the World Cup. De Las said the better team did win the final.
“Spain has been the best team (in the world) for the last four years,” De Las said. “They deserved to win.”
De Las also said that Diego Forlan was a worthy recipient of the Golden Ball, but he was one of three players who caught his attention. De Las was impressed with attacking German midfielder Thomas Mueller, who won the Golden Boot award, which is awarded to the tournament’s top goal scorer. Mueller, Forlan, Spain’s David Villa and the Netherlands’ Wesley Sneijder tied for the tournament lead with five goals, but because Muller had the most assists of the four, he received the honor. De Las also said Andres Iniesta, whose goal in the 116th minute on Sunday gave Spain the title, had a solid tournament all the way through.
But De Las said it was Forlan who stole the show. With all of the problems players had with the Jabulani ball, he was shocked at Forlan’s ability to score from distance. He was the first player to score four goals outside the box since Brazil’s Rivelino in 1966.
“No one else in the World Cup could hit that specific ball from outside the box,” De Las said. “He was Uruguay’s special spark. He carried the team and provided leadership as captain.”
De Las said one thing which surprised him about this World Cup was the slow start in the tournament. He believes the quality of play in the beginning was lower than in previous years, but picked up after the group stage.
“When (the tournament) hit the quarterfinals, it’s do or die. Perform or go home,” De Las said. “The quality spiked up a lot.”
De Las said it was too early to pick a winner for the 2014 World Cup, but did say there was a team he thinks “will do well.”
2014 World Cup winner: “Germany has a young team. I’m not saying they’re going to win, but I think they will do well.”
Husref Jupic (United States)
The Des Moines Hoover product picked Spain over a month ago to win the World Cup, and was glad to see his prediction come true. However, he was not expecting the type of championship game that played out.
“I thought the game was simple,” Jupic said. “It was not as exciting as people want.”
Jupic agreed with his teammates about the winner of the Golden Ball award. He said Forlan was well deserving of the award because he “did everything for Uruguay.”
One thing which surprised Jupic was Argentina’s exit from the World Cup, a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Germany in the quarterfinals. Coming into the tournament, Argentina’s Lionel Messi was considered by many soccer experts to be the world’s best player. Jupic believed that Messi played well, but did not do nearly enough to help his team.
“Messi did not step up for his country,” Jupic said. “He played really well, though; (30) shots and no goals. That’s tough.”
Jupic said the United States did just about as expected in the tournament, but thinks they should have went further. Jupic said the team must get an early start on the next World Cup and wants new and younger guys to be ready to step in. He does hope that one World Cup veteran has enough in the tank to make one more run for the U.S.
“I hope (midfielder Clint) Dempsey sticks around for four more years,” Jupic said. “I really hope we get to see him (in action) again.”
Despite Argentina’s horrid exit, Jupic believes Messi will lead the young team back into contention for the 2014 World Cup title; but he cannot count out the host nation.
2014 World Cup prediction: “I like Argentina; they have a lot of youngsters. But you always have to go with Brazil. Brazil or Argentina is my pick.”
ABOUT THE MENACE: The Des Moines Menace is the 2009 Organization of the Year for the 67-team Premier Development League (PDL), the highest amateur level of the United Soccer Leagues (USL). The Menace plays its home matches in a fun, family-friendly environment at Valley Stadium in West Des Moines.
Menace intern Matt Moran, a junior at Drake University, wrote this story.