2010 FIFA World Cup: In Defense of Ties

J. MeyerContributor IJune 12, 2010

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 11:  Diego Godin of Uruguay and Thierry Henry of France battle for the ball during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Group A match between Uruguay and France at Green Point Stadium on June 11, 2010 in Cape Town, South Africa.  (Photo by Jurie Senekal/Getty Images)
Jurie Senekal/Getty Images

Well America, we are now two games into the 2010 FIFA World Cup and we have yet to see a winner. 

A riveting opener between South Africa and Mexico produced a 1-1 draw.  A sometimes chippy, most times dull game between France and Uruguay produced a 0-0 draw.  That's nil-nil if you're British and double skunk if you're into colloquialisms. And if you're an American, that's two more arguments against soccer.

What kind of sport can play a game without a winner?  And worse, what kind of sport can play a whole game without a score?

American sports have unofficially banned the tie game.  We used to have it in football, the tackle version, but did away with it in order to create dramatic overtime periods filled with field goals and important coin tosses. 

A scoreless game?  That is impossible!  It may happen for nine innings in baseball, but you better believe that we are going to play for as many hours as it takes for somebody to touch home plate.

If you've been watching another event simultaneous to the World Cup, the NBA Finals, you'll notice that points are scored constantly, sometimes to the accompaniment of loud music and without that irritating obstructionist known as defense. 

The American fan does not believe in the concept of a tie.  To us, it means two losers because we know that famous quote, attributed to fifty different legendary coaches: "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing."

So what, then, can we say about this opening day of the World Cup that hasn't even given us a winner?

Well, for one thing, a tie can be as exciting as any victory.  Ask fans of both South Africa and Mexico. 

The game looked like it would be a walkover for El Tri.  They dominate the first half and showed a willingness to attack while the players on Bafana Bafana looked like they had been introduced during the national anthems. 

Suddenly, Siphiwe Tshabalala tears down through the defense and shoots a laser of a goal that the whole continent of Africa was buzzing about.  Bafana Bafana then went on the offensive and looked to be the aggressors throughout the second half.  Could they really beat Mexico and shock the world?

Then Rafael Marquez, the former captain likely playing in his last World Cup, gets into space with three other players waiting next to him begging for the ball, and wisely volleys it past the keeper rather than give it to them.  They were all offsides.

A few more chances were not converted in the final minutes, but neither team could really hang their heads after such a stirring opener.  Neither probably felt that they needed to play extra time to prove anything. 

The game between France and Uruguay was a bit less stirring.  Uruguay was able to stifle the French attack, making many of their midfielders look like petulant children in the process, and seemed to achieve the result they desired. Les Bleus could have played for another 90 minutes a man up without scoring, although they may have been able to pick up some more yellow cards.

No, the first day of the World Cup did not produce any winners, other than Rafa Marquez, Siphiwe Tshabalala, Uruguay, the whole continent of Africa...etc.

Group A now has four teams tied for first place, and the intensity of the next round of games will be even greater. 

I'm waiting to hear American commentators proclaim that they are all tied for last.


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