2010 World Cup

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On This Day: Bornstein becomes national hero – in Honduras

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You know what today is? It’s Jonathan Bornstein day in Honduras.

Ten years ago today at RFK Stadium in our nations capital, a young, hot-shot kid with plenty of hair named Michael Bradley and Bornstein helped the U.S. Men’s National Team come back to draw Costa Rica, 2-2, in World Cup qualifying. In fact, it’s eerie watching Bornstein’s celebration, running to the corner flag and diving headfirst as he’s mobbed moments after by his teammates. It’s a bit similar to what Lanson Donovan did about nine months later.

[READ: USMNT looks to build in match v. Canada]

To add some context, it was the final day of qualifications matches in the Hex. Three days earlier, the U.S. had already secured a place in the World Cup with a wild 3-2 win at Honduras, meaning Los Catrachos needed to win over El Salvador on the final night and hope that the U.S. would keep Costa Rica from winning in the final match.

Who else, but Carlos Pavon gave Honduras a 1-0 win over El Salvador that night. Then, it was Bornsteins goal later that night that put Los Catrachos into the World Cup for the first time since 1982, and left Costa Rica to battle for the shared spot between CONCACAF and CONMEBOL.

In honor of the big day, hundreds of Honduras fans had been mentioning Bornstein on social media, and the veteran defender – currently of the Chicago Fire – retweeted quite a few of the thankful messages to him. Below, here’s video of the call from Honduras TV, as well as from Ian Darke and the ESPN crew.

Unfortunately for Bornstein, this may be the highlight of his national team career. He did make the 2010 World Cup squad and started twice, including the matches against Algeria and Ghana, but he never truly took the next step in his career to become a star left back.

After a calamitous performance against Mexico in the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup final, which also Bob Bradley his USMNT job, Bornstein was dropped and hasn’t been seen from again on the national team stage.

However, even though he’s only a club player these days, he’ll never have to buy a drink in Honduras, that’s for sure.

Top soccer ref Howard Webb reveals how he endures OCD

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LONDON (AP) In his changing room before the 2010 World Cup final in South Africa, referee Howard Webb wasn’t comfortable in his blue shirt.

So he took it off.

Put it back on.

Took it off.

Put it back on.

Did this six times.

Moments from the most important game of his life, Webb was struck down by another bout of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), a condition in which a person has obsessive thoughts and compulsive behavior.

Webb kept the condition secret throughout a career that saw him referee the Champions League final and World Cup final in the same year, fearing the harsh world of soccer would mark him down as mentally unsound.

He has revealed the condition in an autobiography, and told The Associated Press in a telephone interview that he didn’t want to jeopardize his career. “You have to give the impression of being an assured and confident person,” he said.

In Johannesburg, as the Netherlands and Spain prepared for the World Cup final, Webb was trying to get changed. He wrote: “I reached into my kit bag and grabbed my azure blue Adidas shirt. However as I pulled it on, a negative thought invaded my head, my anxiety levels rose and I took the top off again to erase that niggling feeling.

“In the end it took me about six attempts to keep that bloody shirt on my back.”

His mood wasn’t improved by what happened on the field. In a dirty game full of nasty fouls, the ex-policeman showed the yellow card nine times and the red card once, a record for a World Cup final. He also missed a vicious kick to the chest of an opponent by Netherlands player Nigel de Jong.

“There are some that are unrefereeable and that was one of them,” he said about the biggest game in global soccer.

Webb said he tried to avoid sending players off, but agreed that that sometimes meant he failed to show the red card when he should have done.

“I recall a Manchester derby when Cristiano Ronaldo sarcastically applauded me after I booked him,” Webb said. “Of course, I should have showed him the red card (sarcastic applause is seen as dissent, a booking offense) but I thought to myself, `I’m going to change the course of the game by doing this.’ For want of a better word, I bottled it by not sending him off.”

The 45-year-old Webb is a soccer analyst and head of refereeing for the Saudi Arabian Football Federation, and says he’d like to land more roles that help to develop refs.

Famous as much for his bald head as his refereeing, Webb says the OCD began when he was a boy growing up in Rotherham, east of Manchester in northern England.

He noticed that sometimes he kissed his mother goodbye in the morning and a bad thought entered his head that something was going to happen to her. So he would kiss her again – and again – until a positive thought about her entered his head and he could relax.

His parents noticed the behavior, but brushed it aside as “Howard’s habits.”

Webb kept it from his football employers. “I could have imagined some less-than-sympathetic person remarking, `Can we trust Webb on a football field? Or shall we hand that semifinal to a ref who’s, erm, not so flaky?”‘

Until he retired in 2014, Webb was England’s top referee, and his autobiography reveals a profession riven by in-fighting among the small group of elite refs who control English Premier League games.

“What had been intended as an informal beer and barbecue night in Cumbria almost descended into a version of Fight Night … between Graham Poll and Mark Halsey,” Webb wrote.

He said: “Watching them trading personal insults and squaring up to each other was pretty unedifying.” Both ex-referees have denied any such clash took place.

While more and more technology was being introduced to help refs, Webb said footballing authorities needed to recognize that technology has its limits.

“There has to be a clear acceptance that it won’t be the answer to every decision in the game,” he said.

Goal-line technology has proved a big success, but Webb was a less a fan of video technology.

“Some decisions aren’t right or wrong,” he said. “They’re subjective decisions that should be made by the referee.”

Report: South African bid official says $10 mil bribe was for “development fund”

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A report from South African news outlet The Sunday Independent has claimed that South African bid chief and current South African Football Association president Danny Jordaan (pictured) confirmed to them that a $10 million payment was indeed paid indirectly from the South African federation to Jack Warner, but denies the payment was a bribe.

The U.S. Justice Department in its indictment report stated that in 2008, four years after the bid was awarded, a $10 million bribe was sent via the South African bid committee to Jack Warner in exchange for “the Caribbean Football Union to ‘support the African diaspora.’”

According to the Sunday Independent report, Jordaan claimed that the payment was made, but says it was sent to the then-CONCACAF president as “South Africa’s contribution towards their football development fund.” The report does not directly quote Jordaan making these claims, but seems to paraphrase what they claim he said.

“I haven’t paid a bribe or taken a bribe from anybody in my life,” Jordaan is quoted as saying in the report. “We don’t know who is mentioned there [in the indictment].”

The report states that Jordaan said the South African government could not come up with the funds when it was time to pay, so FIFA instead deducted the $10 million as part of their World Cup payout after the tournament, and wired it themselves to Warner. Such a transfer from FIFA funds would, according to regulations, have to be approved by the finance director and the general secretary.

Jordaan also denied authorizing the 2008 payment himself, saying he concluded his business with FIFA at the time the bid was awarded in 2004, and quoted as saying he was unable to do so due to restrictions. “During my tenure as CEO at the 2010 World Cup Organizing Committee, I was bound by regulations set out in the Schedule of Delegated Authority (Soda). Under that authority, I could authorize payments of a maximum of R1 million [currently $82,200].”

Page 85 of the Department of Justice report states that “Soon after receiving these wire transfers, [Warner] caused a substantial portion of the funds to be diverted for his personal use.”

Jordaan was just sworn in as the new Executive Mayor of Nelson Mandela Bay on May 28. On that same day, South African Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula denied any payment was made.

Gerard Pique is Tweeting out his star-studded jersey collection, and it’s impressive

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When you play a starring role on one of the best teams of all-time, you tend to accumulate some cool knickknacks for your home.

In the case of Gerard Pique — save the Shakira jokes — we’re talking about a wealth of big names from the world of soccer’s postgame shirt exchanges.

[ MORE: MLS power rankings, Volume III ]

In addition to Tweeting out photos of shirts worn by Sergio Aguero, Carles Puyol and some Athletic Bilbao fans, Pique put out a cool roundup of his 2010 World Cup additions, and a slew of shirts including Landon Donovan.

A look back at Landon Donovan’s World Cup career

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As Landon Donvan’s farewell match for the United States approaches, take a look at his best World Cup moments in the Red, White and Blue.

[ RELATED: Top 5 goals | video tribute ]

2002

Donovan burst onto the scene as a bright-eyed 20-year-old at the 2002 World Cup. In the United States’ opening match, Donovan helped shock Portugal with a 3-2 win. Donovan’s World Cup debut included a cross that was deflected by Jorge Costa and in the net, giving the U.S. and early 2-0 lead.

[ RELATED: “My Donovan moment…” 

Donovan scored his first official World Cup goal two matches later, netting a consolation goal in the United States’ 3-1 loss to Poland. Despite the loss, the U.S. advanced from the group stage, taking on Mexico in the knockout round.

Against archrival Mexico, Donovan helped lead the U.S. to another surprise victory, this time scoring off a header in the 65th minute to expand the lead to 2-0.

Fast forward to 50 seconds to check out Donovan’s goal.

While the United States was eliminated by Germany in the quarterfinals, the tournament was a massive success for both the team and Landon Donovan. Donovan’s play earned him the trophy for Best Young Player of the tournament, joining the likes of Pele and Franz Beckenbauer to win the award.

2006

By 2006, Donovan was the United States’ all-time leader in assists. With high hopes after a brilliant run in 02’ Germany was a difficult World Cup for the Americans. The U.S. was the only team to earn a point against champions Italy, yet still finished last in their group. Despite the disappointing finish, Donovan led the midfield while playing every minute of the United States’ three games.

2010

South Africa played host to the 2010 World Cup, where Landon Donovan helped the U.S. win their group for the first time since 1930.

Down 2-0 in their opening match against Slovenia, Donovan started an American comeback with a blistering shot into the top of the net. The United States would come back to tie the game 2-2 and earn a much needed point.

Skip to 0:50 for Donovan’s brilliant strike.

Despite Donovan’s superb effort against Slovenia, he is remembered most for his stoppage-time winner against Algeria. In need of points to advance and with time winding down, Donovan scored arguably the most important goal in United States soccer history.

The video still brings chills.

Donovan would finish his World Cup career with a goal from the spot against Ghana, a dramatic extra-time loss for the U.S.

His five World Cup goals are the most for an American player, and he is the only American to win the tournament’s Best Young Player award. But more than his goals and awards is what he has done for American soccer as a whole.

The 2002 World Cup marked the United States’ arrival on the world soccer stage, and it’s no coincidence Landon Donovan helped lead the way. His goal against Algeria is cemented as one of the biggest moments in U.S. soccer history, just as his legacy is as this country’s greatest player.