1. Best Defender, Javier Mascherano.
It was a shame that Javier Mascherano did not win any sort of award, his play certainly merited it. Mascherano’s World Cup campaign was incredible. The stout defender’s willingness to risk life and limb on each challenge, most noticeably against Robben in the semi-final, was the primary reason Argentina found themselves and their wildly drunk caravanning fans in the final.
2. Best Thing to Come out of England since Harry Potter, Daniel Sturridge.
Sturridge proved that he belongs at the very highest level of football. The striker was easily the most dangerous player for England in all three games, well, except for Leighton Banes if “dangerous” is evaluated negatively. Btw, I still think it is hilarious to say that England only played three games… Anyhow, Sturridge’s awareness of the goal and newfound maturity to see his teammates (a skill that forsook him at Chelsea) was on display during the group stages. England, if they are smart, should make him the focal point of what could be a very potent offense just in time for the Euros.
3. Best Goal, Jermaine Jones versus Portugal.
Best goal lists are easy to make, but for me, the greatest goals have the biggest impact on a team, a tournament, or a season. Call me a homer but Jermaine Jones goal was great, if not life-changing, for a variety reasons. First, it changed the course of the US World Cup Campaign, only James Rodriguez’s wunderstrike can stake such a claim, but even that goal was coming as Colombia dominated for long stretches against a Suarez-less Uruguay. Jones’s goal capped off the United States’ best period of play in the entire cup and gave the team belief they could progress to the next round. Second, the goalie didn’t even move! Rui Patricio’s feet appeared bolted to the ground such was the magnitude of Jones’ shot. Finally, the goal validated Jermaine Jones’s career as a US player. A touch hyperbolic? Maybe, but it is easy to forget how maligned Jones was as a central midfielder for the US. For me, Jones was our most important player at this World Cup as his effort pulsed through the rest of the team at the most crucial times. Here it is again, ahhhhhh goosbumps!
4. Best Tackle, Manual Neuer against Gonzalo Higuain.
Not only was this not a foul on either player, this was easily the best tackle I have seen in years. The final was full of physicality, which is a good thing. Goalies have the right to defend their box come hell or high water and forwards should be leery of challenges made in and around the penalty area. Association Football is strongly against the double penalty for last -man fouls and penalty kicks awarded on the same challenge, so kudos to a keeper like Neuer who makes unsuspecting passengers pay a price for lingering too long. For more Neuer time, watch this,
5. Best Coach, Herrera.
Let’s move on.
6. Biggest Money Maker, Deandre Yedlin and Men in Blazers.
First let’s start with Yedlin. Other than the conception of my first child, never has a short performance cost so much money. Yedlin’s marauding runs down the right flank against Belgium could have been just that, but the young dynamo finished his 75 -yard scampers with quality service delivered into the Belgium penalty area. Oh, did I mention he shut down Europe’s next best thing, Eden Hazard? Yedlin was a revelation, do you still want Brad Evans as your right back folks? Yedlin has been linked to Roma and Liverpool, whether either pans out remains to be seen. Not in doubt is that his next paycheck will exceed his current. The Men in Blazers were well-known to many hard-core US supporters prior to Brazil, but ESPN’s full embrace of the two gifted commentators brought them to another level. Whether the duo will be able to maintain their shtick as more executives line up to pay them will be a challenge, but one they will likely overcome.
7. Best City to Watch a US Game, Chicago and Kansas City.
These Midwest towns appeared to attract the largest watch parties, could they serve as capable hosts to a large US men’s fixture next qualifying campaign? Let’s hope. To be a footballing nation we should not have to every game in Seattle.
8. Best TV Coverage, ESPN.
This is more of a lifetime achievement award than anything else. ESPN’s coverage was masterful. It just goes to show you what that network can do when they buy in completely. Fox and BeIN have some big shoes to fill. Let’s hope they do not try to reinvent the wheel on their respective coverage of the 2018 World Cup and 2016 Super Copa America.
9. Best Game, USA v. Belgium.
Imagine how good this game would have been had Wando finished? Actually, it would have been a crap game just like the Ghana game but who cares!!!!!!!!!
10. Best Goal Celebration, Miguel Herrara.
This was a tough one, my heart says John Brooks. The look of astonishment over what he just achieved will live on in the pantheon of great World Cup moments, but Miguel Herrera is the master. I cannot stand the Mexican national team. Their tactics are questionable and their players disgrace themselves when the team struggles, e.g. Cobi Jones 2006. But after witnessing one Herrera celebration I wanted another, and another and another. After the second Mexico game I almost found myself rooting for Mexico, all because I wanted to see the little man commence another drunken-like tackle celebration Chris Farley style.