Spain defeats the Netherlands, 1-0

Spain defeats the Netherlands, 1-0

By Adam Vaccaro

The World Cup Final: To the tune of one last song from the vuvuzelas, in front of 90,000 fans and hundreds of millions of viewers worldwide, following the first tournament appearance of the great Nelson Mandela, and with each side playing to lift the World Cup trophy for the first time, Spain and the Netherlands took to the pitch in the 19th World Cup final at Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg. And after having dominated the four-year cycle just passed, Spain again found a way to win and deservedly celebrated its first world championship.

It took La Furia Roja over 120 minutes to reach glory. The Dutch, who were not shy about looking ugly if it meant victory, played physical, cautious soccer that yielded very little in the way of opportunity but effectively disrupted Spain's flow and kept them off the scoreboard through regulation and most of extra time. But the Spanish attack, all tournament long blending patience and talent at just the right portions to claim victory, found their winning strike in the 116th minute when Andres Iniesta sent Cesc Fabregas's set-up on net and past Oranje keeper Maarten Stekelenberg. Iniesta's goal got the celebration started on the field and across his once-divided home country, and when time expired minutes later to a 1-0 final, a new champion was crowned.

The game itself wasn't pretty. The 1-0 final won't excite everybody and marked Spain's fourth straight victory by that score. La Furia became the lowest scoring champion in tournament history, having scored only eight times in seven matches. Penalties were also an issue. Holland was booked nine times tying a World Cup record and Spain added five of its own. The match's sixteen total bookings were the most ever in a Final. It's hard to fault English referee Howard Webb, though. Holland was extremely physical in looking to keep Spain off the scoreboard, and that manifested itself in a number of hard fouls.

People will disagree with me here, but it's equally hard to fault the Oranje. They knew how to beat Spain: keep the match even, then find a quick break in the middle of the park to score. Twice they found that break, but they were unable to score. In one instance, Arjen Robben found a breakaway in the second half and had he got one more inch on his left-footed bid, he'd have scored. But Spanish captain Iker Casillas, who would later be given the Yashin Award as the tournament's top keeper, came out of the net to make a fantastic kick save and keep the match scoreless. If the Dutch were to claim victory, they needed to take advantage of those rare opportunities, and they couldn't. They had the right idea, but the Dutch trademark role of coming up short lives on.

La Furia, for so long talented but without reward, is the eighth World Cup champion and regains FIFA's number one ranking from Brazil. The Kingdom of Spain now begins its reign over the soccer world.

Following the match, Diego Forlan was awarded the tournament's Golden Ball award as the team's best player. Forlan scored five goals and was a physical presence up top for Uruguay, pacing the fourth-place Celeste's attack. Germany's Thomas Muller won the Golden Boot for most goals scored. Muller scored five goals, as did Forlan, Spain's David Villa, and Holland's Wesley Sneijder, but did so in six games having missed his team's semifinal loss to La Furia with a suspension. The 20-year-old was also named as the tournament's Best Young Player.

What's next: While Spain will celebrate with force for the foreseeable future, it's back to the drawing boards for everyone else as a new cycle begins. Over the next four years, new coaches will take the helm, young teams will develop into potential powers, older squads will be forced to turn over, confederation tournaments and the Olympics will come and go, Brazil will prepare to host in 2014, and the process will begin anew.

The usual suspects Brazil, Argentina, the Dutch, Germany, England, presumably Italy, maybe France will remain strong. Germany in particular, based on their performance this tournament and their youth, is likely to develop a lot of momentum by the time 2014 rolls around. Chile and Switzerland are also a couple of up-and-comers with a lot of potential and could make substantial progress over the next four years. The new champs are sure to remain a threat as well.

As for the United States? The game continues to grow and superstars have been born, but the Yanks are going to need to develop a consistent scorer up top. Bob Bradley may be back for a year or two, but the team will likely have a new coach by the time they get to Brazil and most fans will hope that it will be a high-profile, internationally experienced manager that can take American soccer to the next level.

If you found yourself hooked to soccer by the tournament, there will be plenty of international soccer to watch going forward, including an American friendly against Brazil on August 11. The quality of MLS play pales in comparison to that of the World Cup, but it's worth taking a look at, as following the Revs fresh off a massive upset against the LA Galaxy, the league's top team at least allows for geographic and club loyalty. European soccer is also pretty easily available stateside these days if quality of play is tantamount to your soccer-watching experience.

South Africa can celebrate having hosted a fantastic World Cup, and that celebration will be thick in spite to the many doubters across the globe who didn't think Africa was ready for a World Cup.

I'm biased, but I do sense that there was more of a buzz around the tournament this time around. The tournament generated great ratings in America and, as a generation born into a global village continues to come of age and eventually to power, it makes sense that the importance of partaking in the world's most popular sport will continue to grow in the public consciousness. The tournament produced great moments, solid play, and a new champion. It was a fun and exciting month, and I think most reasonable sports fans recognize it as such.
Quote of Note: "Every World Cup has its own history and its own culture. It was a World Cup in a new continent with new culture and therefore it must be analysed on different levels. If you look at the enthusiasm in South Africa and the TV audiences around the world then it was a special World Cup." - FIFA head Sepp Blatter on the day of the 2010 final.

Revolution introduce Brad Friedel as coach


Revolution introduce Brad Friedel as coach

New Revolution coach Brad Friedel was introduced to the media at Gillette Stadium on Monday and promised his "obsession with winning" will filter down to the rest of the organization.

“We have a lot of work ahead but we do have a lot of good players here, a lot of good pieces to this club,” Friedel said.  “One thing we can guarantee you — because you never want to guarantee too much in sport — is that you will get 100 percent commitment from myself and staff, as well as the players.

“And we’re going to be, hopefully, get to the obsession that I have with winning. And we’ll work our best to try and get those wins on the board that we can.”

Since retiring as a player, Friedel, a former UMNT goalkeeper who spent most of his career in Europe and the Premier League, has coached the US U-19 team and worked as a soccer analyst for FOX Sports. He's the eighth coach in the MLS franchise's 22-year history. He replaces Jay Heaps, the Revs' second-longest serving coach who led New England to playoff appearances from 2013-15, including an MLS Cup Final appearance in 2014. 

Friedel said it won't be difficult to adjust to coaching in the MLS after a long career in Europe. 

“That won't be hard to adjust to at all," Freidel said. "Not every team over in Europe or England, for that matter, has these enormous budgets. Working at clubs like Blackburn as a player, but then at Tottenham, I know it's a big club, but they work under a strict budget at Tottenham. You learn to work under whatever restrictions or not there may or may not be... 

"Whatever budget is given to us, we will work with. I think what's really important is the mentality of the players. Fans and players are usually the two most important things at every single club. Us as a staff, we're employed to try to make those players better. So, whatever players are in front of us, that's going to be our focus – on getting a team environment, a winning environment, and an environment where every player wants to work hard. It doesn't really matter where your budgets are.”

Friedel said he likes the potential on the Revs roster. 

"I think there's a lot of potential within the group. We're not going to go into details at the first press conference obviously with the squad itself. We have a lot of meetings ahead with that, but there's a lot of potential in the group... 

"This is not a team that is in disarray, that's for sure. I think there needs to be little tweaks to it, and then my staff and I need to go in and try to mold the team and get the confidence back. I think if you see – you can look at stats, stats don't lie – over 60 goals conceded is too much and that's something we'll need to address. But, we know what we need to address and we'll work hard to address those issues."

Report: Revolution hire Brad Friedel as new head coach


Report: Revolution hire Brad Friedel as new head coach

The New England Revolution have hired Brad Friedel as their new head coach, according to Ives Galarcep of

Friedel, 46, played goalkeeper for the Columbus Crew in 1996 and 1997 before spending 18 years in the Premier League and was the starting keeper for the United States National Team in the 2002 World Cup. He has spent the last two years coaching the United States Under-19 National Team.

The Revs fired head coach Jay Heaps and September and Tom Soehn filled in as interim head coach for the remainder of the season.