Going full soccer nerd for the World Cup

The last two weeks have been a sweet, delicious fever dream of side volleys and spot-kick saves. My head spins trying to remember it all.

Last-minute heroics have been bested only by first-minute screw-ups; matches start drenched in drama and end in either ecstasy or horror. And all the while bedlam reigns.

It's been brilliant. It's been amazing. It's been heaven.

Between the World Cup and the on- and off-field developments in Crew SC land, my cup, as they say, runneth over these last two weeks. What follows are a few of my favorite moments.

Shock & Ball

Few sports elicit as many moments of instantaneous joy and surprise as soccer. Russia's penalty-kick-shootout victory over the mighty Spaniards stands out, of course, but I'm also thinking of Belgium's last-gasp goal against Japan, and Denmark and Croatia's back-to-back junk goals in that game's opening five minutes.

Then there were the moments of individual brilliance that left my mouth slack. I've watched that ridiculously stunning volley from French defender Benjamin Pavard at least 400 times, no lie. (Have you seen it in slow motion yet?)

Pavard's compatriot, Kylian Mbappe, has been absolutely unplayable, and the Spurs fan in me has taken a particular joy in watching Harry Kane continue to score buckets in every way possible.

But I've been most consistently impressed with Brazil's Philippe Coutinho, my player of the tournament so far. In the Group Stage, Coutinho scored or assisted in three of Brazil's goals and has consistently looked like not only the best player on his team, but, perhaps, the best in the tournament. Or, as FourFourTwo put it: “Neymar gets the headlines. But [Coutinho] is the player Brazil can't be without.”

Unbalanced Brackets

It's Monday as I write this, so I've yet to watch the rest of this Round of 16 play out. But it seems apparent the winner of the Cup will likely be one of Brazil, Belgium, Uruguay or France. Luckily for us, the former two and the latter two play each other next, and the winners of each will face other in the final four.

The downside of this is the final could be anti-climactic, or so goes the traditional thinking. But imagine a final featuring England, the perpetually forlorn, against the GOATs, Brazil. Or … OK, that's all I got. The final's probably going to be awful.

That other bracket though …

The Country's Worst Landlord Exposed

You Know Who's shameful efforts to let Crew Stadium, the heart and soul of U.S. soccer, deteriorate like some two-bit county grandstand deserves a broader audience. (Like, ahem, Austin City council?)

Please keep emailing my colleague at the Dispatch, Crew SC beat reporter Andrew Erickson, if you see any signs of You Know Who's derelict landlord act over these final home games. You can email Erickson at aerickson@dispatch.com.