The idea of evaluating the top 50 players of the World Cup is a good idea... if it's done right. Unfortunately, it was done wrong. ESPN released earlier this week a list of the top 50 players of the World Cup according to a "panel of 23 contributors". I don't know who ESPN got as their "panel of 23 contributors", but clearly ESPN needs to do a better job of hiring "soccer analysts". Coming from a Soccernet reader, it was embarrassing to read this list but I fought through the pain. I honestly have no idea where to begin but I'll make an attempt at cleaning up this so called "list" and again prove why I should be an ESPN soccer analyst.
Maybe it's when I glanced at #50 on the list and saw Landon Donovan slotted in there. Really? I understand ESPN's attempt to intrigue the uneducated American in football, but believe it or not there are some of us out there that actually know football. No one's denying he has been in form for Everton since making his switch, but he isn't even the best American on Everton, let alone the entire Premier League! How Landon is ahead of Tim Howard or Clint Dempsey I don't know. Where's your loyalty ESPN? Because Dempsey has been injured and hasn't been playing for a month or so you forgot about him? He's been nothing but excellent for Fulham for 4+ years. He's made more than 100 appearances for the Cottagers and he'll be back before this summer. Simply put, you owe the kid an apology.
And what about Alexander Frei of Switzerland? He's proven himself in Germany's top flight with Borussia Dortmund the past three years (scoring 31 goals in 3 seasons), he's Switzerland's all time goal scorer with 40 goals (not to mention his 73 caps), he's already scored 13 goals in just 17 games for club FC Basel this year in the Swiss league, and Switzerland have a realistic chance of finishing 2nd in their group that feature favorites Spain and underdogs Chile and Honduras. He belongs on the list, probably some where in the early forties, but not to be on the list period is a little shocking.
The Netherlands, personally favored to make an exciting run in South Africa, only have three players on the list total. Dirk Kuyt, Rafael Van Der Vaart, Mark Van Bommel, Andre Ooijer, and Giovanni Van Bronckhorst are just a few of the world class Dutch players left off the list. Also, I just don't understand how Rafael Marquez, a world class defender who plays for FC Barcelona and Mexico, did not even make the list.
I wonder if the "panel of 23" have been following football recently seeing as they forgot to mention Rio Ferdinand, now captain of England. The fact that I don't even have to tell you who Rio is and why he belongs on the list tells you how inaccurate ESPN is. And as much as I wish Stevie Gerrard is the 9th best player playing in the World Cup, the truth is he's not. He belongs in the 10-15 range, but for sure not the top ten.
Anyone you think they forgot or miss ranked?