By Mark Vincent Lincir

France bowed out of the World Cup and a few people cared (they were all French). Now Italy has been eliminated by Slovakia on Thursday 3-2 and the defending champs will go home without even getting to the second round…and finishing LAST in their group!

Photo from fOTOGLIF

What’s the World Cup coming to? Are we going to see a new champion? Can the United States get to the Final behind Landon Donovan and Tim Howard? Will the refs ever make a correct call? If it’s ever going to happen, it’s going to happen at this World Cup. Maybe it’s the vuvuzelas? I don’t think I’m ever going to be able to shake that background noise once the Cup stops. So as I sit here in my Landon replica jersey, I can’t help but think about how badly Italy flamed out of this year’s tournament. No doubt they missed Pirlo big-time…he changed the game when he came in. But it was too little, too late. Hats off to Slovakia, they battled and had a couple of nice goals behind Vittek and wanted it more than the Italians. How about Japan? This is my new team! They knock it around with speed, they defend and they look like they’re enjoying themselves more than anyone in the tournament. Honda’s free kick was masterful…but Endo’s right footed blast just minutes later was even more beautiful. Bend it like Beckham my ass…where’s he been? Bend it like Honda and Endo!

Photo from fOTOGLIF

The Netherlands dispatched Cameroon 2-1 and will get deep into the tournament…but as much as I think they deserve to win the World Cup sooner or later, I just don’t think they have enough to take it all. Paraguay and New Zealand played to a stalemate and it put Paraguay through to face Japan next in what I predict will be a wide open thriller.

Nobody can stop talking about the United States’ win over Algeria yesterday and I’m right there with you. My buddy and I were counting the U.S. out at the 85th minute and were sick to our stomachs. It’s not often you see a last second winner like Landon’s and it came at the most critical time.

The United States almost made a mess of a group that EVERYONE except me had us cruising through. I remember when the draw came out, people were hugging and kissing and talking second round like we had a bye through the entire first round.

The World Cup is not like any other animal in the world. You have to earn it all. Just ask France or Italy, crazy things happen. The United States has to play better and keep the ball more. That isn’t going to happen unless Coach Bob Bradley puts a player like Benny Feilhaber on the field that is CAPABLE of holding the ball under pressure and craves the ball and seeks it out. He has the ability to calm play down and dictate the rhythm. Will he play though? Your guess is as good as mine. But if the United States wants to win, he had better. Not sold on Bornstein at left back against Ghana, he’s too small…gotta come back with Onyewu at center back with DeMerit.

Speaking of Jay DeMerit…will somebody big-time please sign this guy?

He hits hard and organizes…he blocks shots, he’s great in the air…he can start for any team in the EPL…I expect to see him playing this fall for a legit EPL club otherwise I’ll be pissed. He’s a throwback in a way to the rough and tumble stoppers of old and the game still needs players like Jay.

The glamour boy for the U.S. might be getting all the ink, but if there aren’t guys there to keep the other team from scoring, all of Landon’s heroics will be for not. Tim Howard is a stud and needs to go to a massive club, though I don’t doubt his happiness at Goodison Park (the stadium is awesome, saw it in person in April!)…but he needs to be starting for one of the biggest clubs in the world (again).

Enjoy all the madness while it lasts because things really speed up once the elimination rounds start and we’ll all be sitting around wondering when we can all do this (avoid real life for 30 days) again…while we fight through Landon-sized tears.

Mark Vincent Lincir has never run the Beep Test and doesn’t plan to. He can be reached at

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