Two games. Two games and the World Cup, sadly and incredibly, will be over.
All that’s left now is a third-place game between the Netherlands and Brazil on Saturday (3 p.m., ESPN) — which figures to be a wake for Brazilian soccer that neither team is all that keen to attend — and a potentially brilliant final between Germany and Argentina on Sunday (2 p.m., ABC).
After that, the World Cup goes back into hibernation and won’t return again to titillate, frustrate and entertain until 2018.
But before it goes away, let’s look back at the best goals of this World Cup so far. There have been 167 of them — many of them have been of the exceptional variety.
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Here’s The Full 90’s Top 10. (Apologies if the videos auto-play. ESPN has a pesky and hard to override auto-play feature.)
Bonus #1: Miroslav Klose sets the record
Germany scored seven goals — all of them of varying degrees of incredible. Klose scored the second and, in the process, became the all-time leading scorer in World Cup history with 16. It’s wasn’t the best of the bunch (Andre Schurrle’s goal for #7 was) but Klose breaking the record is worth celebrating again.
Bonus #2: David Villa’s back heel
It wasn’t a great tournament for Spain, but Villa managed to bury this beauty of a goal in the last game of the group stage. Imagine if he can bring this sort of class to MLS next year with New York City FC? Exciting times.
10. Wesley Sneijder breaks Mexican hearts
With Mexico just minutes away from pulling out a victory over the Dutch, Sneijder absolutely destroyed a loose ball at the edge of the box. After Arjen Robben “earned” a penalty in stoppage time, Mexican hearts were broken in the most brutal fashion possible.
9. Silvestre Varela’s last-gasp header
Soccer is a cruel, cruel game. Against a team with someone as good as Cristiano Ronaldo, you can’t switch off. Ronaldo, a non-factor most of the game, needed just a millisecond to make this pass and upend the game. He’s pretty good when healthy.
8. Gervinho’s legs are made of plastic
The Ivory Coast disappointed big time at this tournament, but Gervinho’s wobbly-legged run through Colombia’s defense was a bright spot.
7. Karim Benzema finishes Paul Pogba’s spectacular assist
The finish is pretty standard for a top-notch striker like Benzema. But the pass by Pogba? The pass alone gets it on the list. That’s a Messi-level pass from a 21-year-old central midfielder. Pogba is a treat to watch.
6. Clint Dempsey gets America off to fast start
Yeah, like I’m not going to include Dempsey scoring the fastest World Cup goal in U.S. history. He’s so dangerous when given space on the wings, it’s a shame that the U.S. couldn’t figure a way to get Dempsey the ball in space very often the rest of the tournament.
5. Lionel Messi embarrasses Nigeria
Messi is so good at soccer that it’s often easy to underrate when he does something merely excellent. Like this free kick, which bends so quickly and beautifully, Nigeria’s Vincent Enyeama can only spin around in hapless frustration. I am so happy we get to see another match from Messi this tournament.
4. Jermaine Jones brings the hammer
Were there better long-range goals? Yeah. Maybe. But Jones is an American. I’m an American. This blog was written in America. And I’ve never seen an American pull this sort of goal off in an international game like Jones did against Portugal. So, it’s #4.
3. Tim Cahill’s first-time volley
The word you’re thinking of to describe what you just saw is ridiculous. Sadly, this is the last World Cup for Cahill. But, what a lasting memory this goal will leave though.
2. James Rodriguez becomes the new King James
This was the coming out party for Monaco’s James (or, Haimez to you). He scored six goals in five games and was, for my money, the best player in the tournament. The control, touch and audacity of this goal — in the knockout stage against Uruguay no less — is next-level bonkers. A close runner-up on his personal highlight reel was this masterpiece against Japan in the group stage. (I had to sneak in a second. He was that good.)
1. Robin Van Persie’s perfect header
This goal happened on the second day of the tournament and, 161 goals later, it still stands as the most aesthetically outstanding goal of the tournament. It’s about precision. Everything — Daley Blind’s outstanding vision to pick out the pass, the lax defending from Spain keeping the play onside, and Van Persie’s timing to get to the pass, body control to reach header while parallel to the ground and timing to get it over Iker Casillas — had to be perfect. It was. And you just don’t top perfect.