We are actually past the hangover stage now, and into severe World Cup withdrawal. But we battled through it to put together a list of 11 post-tourney awards.
The envelopes, please:
1. Best Goal
Giovanni van Bronckhorst, Netherlands vs Uruguay, semifinals
The Dutch left back provided a dictionary-definition of the term “upper 90” with his 35-yard rocket:
Golazo, aso, aso, aso, indeed.
Runner-up: Fabio Quagliarella’s 25-yard stoppage-time chip for Italy’s second goal against Slovakia. A marvel of poise and skill.
2. Best Game
There were a lot of candidates here, thankfully, but we’re going with Spain vs Germany, semifinals. The quality and precision on display were truly elite—top players performing at the peak of their abilities. And there wasn’t a single foul through the first 25 minutes.
Runner-up: Netherlands vs Uruguay, semifinals. Five goals, including the goal of the tournament, and some unexpected drama at the end.
3. Biggest Flop, Team
The defending World Cup champion tied New Zealand and Paraguay, and lost to Slovakia en route to a three-and-out trip to South Africa. Giuseppe Rossi dodged a bullet.
Runner-up: Tie—England, France
England was, well, Michael Davies of ESPN Soccernet may have said it best: “Americans will never completely understand how crap it is, most of the time, to be English. We might have cute accents and be good at cocktail parties. But we are mostly losers.”
France, which reached the final in 2006, melted down in entertaining and embarrassingly public fashion.
4. Biggest Flop, Individual
Wayne Rooney, England
Lionel Messi, Kaka, and Cristiano Ronaldo were all criticized for not delivering the goods at this World Cup, but each at least had a moment or two of brilliance. Rooney was MIA. Maybe that wasn’t him out there; maybe it was his MLS doppelganger, Chad Barrett. Can you tell the difference?
5. Breakout Star
Thomas Mueller, Germany
The lanky 20-year-old has a bright future—and so does his national team.
Runner-up: Mesut Ozil, Germany. Ditto Mueller commentary for the 21-year-old Ozil.
6. Best Player
Diego Forlan, Uruguay
We agree with FIFA, which awarded him the Golden Ball: Forlan nearly carried his team all the way, and put a solid exclamation point on his performance by thumping a free kick off the bar in the very last play of the third-place game against Germany. Two inches lower and they’re going to extra time.
7. Closest Resemblance to Young Frankenstein’s Marty Feldman
Mesut Ozil, Germany
8. Best Goal Celebration
South Africa, “Diski Dance”
Here’s a glimpse of it after their World Cup-opening goal against Mexico (great goal, too):
Runner-up: Miroslav Klose, Germany. Full front-flip by a big man: Impressive.
9. Worst Goal Celebration
Slovenia, whatever that thing was they were doing
Runner-up: None. Slovenia got all the votes.
10. Best Fan
Larissa Riquelme, Paraguay
She’s 24. It’s a fun age.
Runner-up: This guy, crying tears of joy after Michael Bradley tied it up for the U.S. against Slovenia:
11. Most Dramatic Moment:
Landon Donovan’s game winner vs Algeria, group play.
Yes, the U.S. missed a great opportunity at this tournament, but they did give us this:
Runner-up: Tie—Asamoah Gyan’s brutal penalty miss for Ghana in the quarters against Uruguay (it would have made Ghana the first ever African semifinalist); Michael Bradley’s equalizer for the U.S. against Slovenia in group play.
Congratulations to Spain, the deserving champions, and let’s give a shout out to unheralded New Zealand, which defied all expectations by going unbeaten in the tournament—the only team to do that—with three ties.