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World Cup's all-loser team


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Jamie Trecker / Fox Soccer Channel

Posted: 1 day ago

 

Every World Cup has its share of superstars, the guys who break out when the heat is on and dazzle us all with their brilliance.

 

And right now, we could give a toss about them: this column is about their red-headed stepchildren, the fellas who just plain flamed out.

 

Yes, we're here to celebrate the failures, the disappointers, the just plain execrable, who made your life — and your team — miserable over the past month.

 

The biggest failers of all were Frank Lampard and Wayne Rooney on the England squad.

 

Lampard had his reasons: he played an ungodly number of games — most as a starter — for Chelsea and surely entered the tournament an exhausted man. Still, he could have played a bit. Now he leaves as a shattered man with a legacy of a critical missed penalty kick, a failure to put the ball even remotely near the goalmouth in games and the look of a man who'd rather be hiding under his bedskirts.

 

Rooney also had his reasons, sort of: He's an idiot. Stomping on the crotch of Carvalho in the biggest game of your career is not the way to uphold the flag, son. Breaking your foot before the tournament for a reckless tackle on your national team counterpart John Terry in a league game when your team hasn't a prayer of winning the league title? That's also very stupid. Some will blame his coach, Sven Goran-Eriksson, for deploying him as a lone roamer, but that overlooks the utter lack of depth on the England side. Rooney had his chance, and this time around, he threw up on it. Oh, wait, that was David Beckham.

 

The Americans were a treat, huh? Mindlessly overhyped by Nike and a media that hadn't actually seen the squad, at least they showed some character in trying to gut out a few games. Well, almost all of them:

 

Landon Donovan pulled one of the biggest disappearing acts of all time as the so-called "playmaker" of the squad. Taunted by the fans as "baby Jesus" when he was at San Jose for his precious, spoiled ways, Donovan is going to have to get used to a new tag: "Reject." Let's see how Nike markets that one.

 

He had some company. We could talk about the faded glamour of Eddie Pope, or the snakebit nature of Kasey Keller; but for plain bizarre, career-killing behavior, look no further than DaMarcus Beasley. Here's a guy who manages to alienate every manager he has at the pro level — Dave Sarachan at the Chicago Fire and Guus Hiddink at PSV were the latest. Beasley still has talent to burn, but he's running out of bridges to torch.

 

Stinking up the joint isn't just the province of also-rans, though.

 

World champ — erm, make that "ex-world champion" Brazil had a couple of lumbering figures on the side. Everyone picked portly Ronaldo as this year's Bill Laimbeer being lugged up and down the pitch, but his Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Ronaldinho, didn't exactly show up, either.

 

But good news, gents: there's this great all-night, all-you-can-eat salad bar we know in Las Vegas. And hey, why not take "tactical genius" Bruce Arena with you? He hasn't missed many meals.

 

Strikers are awfully good at racing for the dressing room after big games (just ask Mia Hamm), and this year's World Cup saw a passel of them. Spain's Raul, Ivory Coast's Didier Drogba, Sweden's Henrik Larsson and even Mexico's Jared Borgetti struggled in front of the nets. Larsson gets big bonus points for a spectacular penalty kick attempt miss that would have been good for three at Giants Stadium.

 

And then there's the Ukraine's Andriy Shevchenko. He smiled! He ran! He did squat! He shouldn't feel bad, however: He has the Netherlands' Ruud van Nistelrooy to keep him company in purgatory.

 

Speaking of Dutchmen, how about that Khalid Boulharouz? Charming, foul-prone, down-right malicious — can you believe that coach Marco van Basten, who had his career ended by a cynical fouler, would actually field this guy? He did. Just ask Cristiano Ronaldo.

 

But for a real can't-top-this, let's-shame-the-whole-nation stinking out, you can't beat Serbia and Montenegro. We knew there was a reason Montenegro broke away just weeks before the tournament — they didn't want to have anything to do with this team. Dead last and miserable — and so charming in their match against Ivory Coast as well. They're a perfect 23 guys to invite to your next party.

 

Jamie Trecker is a senior soccer writer for FOXSoccer.com. Check out his blog from Germany. You can also write Trecker at Jamie.trecker@gmail.com.

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