Stoppage Time With Brian Crookham: "World Cup Preparations Costly

STOPPAGE TIME
With Brian Crookham

This Week's Edition: "World Cup Preparations Costly"

Each of the 32 participating soccer federations are spending millions of dollars to build the ultimate World Cup base camp in Germany.

Chefs are preparing personalized menus. There are fitness guys athletic trainers doctors and security. Team media contacts buzz around putting the proper spin on the thousands of stories that are filed each day. Travel parties will include everyone from dignitaries to equipment guys. Let the money flow this is the greatest show on Earth.

Bottom line Germany 06 will be the costliest World Cup ever – I am just talking about my cost! ABC/ESPN raised the bar at my house. 64 High Definition games? It started with the HDTV service upgrade.

After I had the service I realized that I needed to buy a rather large HDTV for the family room as the 22-incher in my office was just not sufficient. Then comes the problem of recording the games. It is no longer permissible to use the old VCR it is almost mandatory that you have a DVR and it has to be one that transfers to disk for safe storage. Oh yeah you need the DVDs to record on.

This has seemed like an expensive proposition from the beginning but it is far from over.

I heard somewhere that anybody who is anybody in soccer (except the MLS people who have to work) will be in Germany this summer. So in my quest to be someone I will be departing immediately after the Rapids’ Fourth of July extravaganza to watch the close of the tournament. Airfare hotels within 100 miles of Berlin and ground transportation all add up. But worst of all the Final falls in the middle of my 10th wedding anniversary. That means for every dollar I spend on the game ticket my wife gets to spend one Euro shopping. I think I am getting screwed on the exchange rate here. Oh well you have an anniversary every year the World Cup only comes around every four.

What a great time for soccer fans worldwide no matter the cost.

World Cup Germany 2006 Starts Friday!

Although I am not big on predictions here are some thoughts on the tournament:

Champion: Brazil
They are like the New England Patriots of a few years ago. Until someone steps up and beats them they have to be the favorite every time they step on the field. Can they be beaten? Certainly. It will take a team similar to France in ’98 that won’t concede any space and is deadly on restarts. You can’t back down defensively and have to convert the few chances you will get just to have a prayer of beating them. Horse tranquilizers in the Brazilian water bottles would also help. Keep in mind that South American teams have not won a Cup on the European continent since 1958.

Golden Boot Winner: Thierry Henry
France is in a group (South Korea Switzerland Togo) that looks like it could concede some goals. A weak group and the likelihood of Tunisia in the second round could get Henry off to a good start. Their final group game against Togo needs to have some meaning and France will have to ride deep into the tournament for him to win.

The United States:
The most experienced team the US has ever taken to a World Cup was drawn into a brutal group. Injuries will play a part in team selection for each of the top three teams. The US will need a great performance against the Czechs in their first game so that they can avoid chasing points in the remaining group play. Even then the task will be enormous. Count on Bruce Arena and his staff to have the team prepared as well as possible in a group that could come down to the two healthiest teams advancing. How is that for sitting on the fence?

The WC ’06 Version of Senegal:
Several intriguing teams enter the tournament with little or no experience on the world’s stage and the potential to open eyes during the tournament. Tunisia has a good chance of advancing especially if Shevchenko is not fit for the Ukraine. Can the Socceroos do some damage in Group F? Ghana has been a power at the youth level for years but has not yet been able to translate that success into the senior World Cup. Don’t forget about the Ivory Coast a confident group lead by Chelsea man Didier Drogba and Arsenal’s Kolo Toure who are poised to rumble with Group C traditional powers Argentina and Holland.

Games/Potential Games of Interest:
In addition to those involving the US games I don’t want to miss include England/Sweden Argentina/Netherlands (and every other group C match) Spain/Ukraine and Mexico/Portugal. Possible second round match-up could include Argentina/Mexico Portugal/Netherlands and a Spain/South Korea rematch from 2002. What about a Germany/Argentina England/Netherlands Italy/France or a Brazil/Spain quarterfinal? Could the brackets converge into an Argentina/Brazil final? We will have to wait and see.

No matter who you support or what the cost every soccer fan has to be excited about the next 31 days. Enjoy!

Brian Crookham's "Stoppage Time" column runs exclusively on ColoradoRapids.com. Brian is the Assistant Technical Director for the Colorado State Youth Soccer Association and serves as color commentator for Rapids broadcasts on Altitude TV. Views and opinions expressed in this column are the author's and not necessarily those of the Colorado Rapids or ColoradoRapids.com. Send any questions or comments to Brian at StoppageTime@att.net