I suppose it would be easy to draw up a list of super stars and say "Follow them!" However, I want to single out a few players that I will be excited to watch and possibly you will help me keep track of their exploits. Should I try for eleven since that is a good soccer number? Okay, but it won't be by position.
(A brief note: The computer I mainly used is unable to produce sound, so I hadn't noticed DMX's excessively homophobic track over the Taiwo clip. DMX is a moron.)
1. Taye Taiwo- Nigeria LB
I am really high on this left footed left back. I am partial to speed players with booming shots. He also takes free kicks. Pundits moan the dearth of African creativity, but I find running straight past people to be rather clever. He plays for Marseilles.
2. Giovanni Dos Santos- Mexico MF
Again, speed kills and I seem to be a sucker for it. Watch this guy destroy France. It will happen. This 21 year-old plies his trade at Galatasaray.
3. Tim Cahill- Australia MF
He is labeled as a midfielder but will probably play as a withdrawn striker. I hate this guy so much when I don't want his team to win, but doesn't that mean he is a good player? Cahill plays with the mental attitude, the tenacity and drive that I wish every footballer had. Would he not fit in perfectly on the American team? Wait for him to get a goal just from always showing up wherever the ball is. Also, quality tattoos. Play at Everton.
4. Zeljko Brkic- Serbia Keeper
But wait, he didn't make the team!!! For shame. I saw this guy play live against Japan and he was some freakish keeper android. His goal kicks were literally played as set pieces around the other teams penalty box. I was very much looking forward to watching him get robotic. Maybe you can catch him at FK Vojvodina.
5. Marcus Tulio Tanaka- Japan DF
How much more ruckus can this F'r cause? He scores against England and then score for England against Japan later in the same game. Then he flying knees Africa's greatest hope straight onto the surgery table. He is a bull in a China shop and that is what Japan needs as the rest of the players are trying to wrap the China properly and fit it delicately into a gift bag. He plays up the road at Nagoya Grampus.
6. Mesut Ozil- Germany MF
Look at the name again. Now look at the country. Something has changed. Yes, in fact the immigration laws of Germany have changed making people born in Germany of Turkish heritage into the real Germans that they are. So now people who would have played for Turkey can play for Germany. As much as I hate to root for the bastards, watch this kid burn. He is going to be a star. Straight out of Werder Bremen.
7. Kevin Prince Boateng- Ghana FW
Speaking of Germany, Boateng grew up in Germany, the son of immigrants from Ghana and choose to play for his parents country after playing for Germany's youth squad. Not so odd you say. However, his brother remains a player on the German World Cup squad. Curious. More dramatic still, it was Boateng who took out German uber captain Michael Ballack, rendering him unable to play in any more World Cups. Drama from the man from Portsmouth.
8. Jong Tae-Se North Korea FW
They call him "The People's Rooney." Not just because he is built like an Asian brick layer, but because he also likes to lay bricks. In fact he pledges to score a goal a game at this tournament. Unfortunately North Korea's entire strategy consists of parking the bus and throwing away the keys. Jong plays ball for Kawasaki Frontale. Why? Because he was born and raised in Nagoya. He went to college in Japan as well. But it was a North Korean college. Since his parent are Korean immigrants, he could not become a Japanese citizen so he took North Korea's offer. Curious.
9. Park Ji Sung- South Korea MF
Speaking of a divided Korea, here is a real super star popping up on the list. Sorry, but Park Ji Sung is probably my favorite player in the world right now and I would be remiss in leaving him out. Nicknamed "Third Lung", Park is all over the pitch, all the time. He is tireless and speedy. He has abbout the best work rate I have ever seen in the game and plays all out. I love the dude and there is no need to point out that he plays for Man. U.
10. Wilson Palacios- Honduras MF
He is a big, reckless defensive midfielder who sometimes gets his team in trouble by flat out running over dudes. Witness Nani in the penalty box. As an American I feel some responsibility to pull for Honduras. Not that it is a chore, but that somehow we are in this together. Honduras might have more technical ability but he symbolizes the effort and drive that I love about CONCACAF. Watch him knock fools around for the Tottenham Hotspur.
11. Neven Subotic- Serbia DF
Two Serbs on one list! An inherent bias. The only thing about this Serb, other than that he actually made the squad is that he is an American. Well, pretty much. He could have been and maybe his paperwork is. Although he wasn't born in the U.S.(He was actually born in Bosnia) he grew up there and was discovered there, playing football in a park, much like Jozy Altidore. Subotic came up through the U.S. system and played for the under 20 team. He is now one of the more sought after defenders in Europe. He will always be the fish that slipped of the hook. I can't be mad at the guy for feeling he wants to play for his parents country, but it would have been great to have him. For now he plays his club ball at Borussia Dortmund.