On Friday, the biggest world-wide sports event, the 2010 FIFA World Cup, opens with host country South Africa challenging Mexico. American soccer fans don’t have to wait long to see their team play; on the second game day, a much anticipated clash between England and the United States starts at 1:30 CST. The 2010 World Cup is one month of nearly daily soccer, filled with exciting match-ups and probably with more than a few surprising upsets.
What’s the best way to follow your favorite team? Or at least to stay in-the-know so you’ll have something to discuss with your footy-obsessed friends between June 11 and July 11? With an iPhone app, of course! But which one? Here are my recommendations, for everyone from serious Fußball fans with office pool standings to keep track of, to soccer fans who want to know what’s going on. I’ve even included an embarrassing entry in the World Cup iPhone arena.
Best All-in-One App: ESPN2010 FIFA World Cup
I have a feeling that this strong, well-balanced app from sports behemoth ESPN will be my go-to app for World Cup 2010.The app is free, but to get all sorts of cool options, like live audio, play-by-play commentary, and alerts for all 64 matches, you have to buy the World Cup Premium Package for $7.99. I don’t know that I’ll pay 8 bucks (!) for those features. They do sound nice, but for 8 clams? Hmm. We’ll see.
Unlike a couple other World Cup apps (who shall, for now, remain nameless), ESPN’s news section stays current (nice feature, right?), and this is an absolute must-have for a sports event with up to three games a day during the group stage.
There is a small news ticker along the bottom of the app, but unlike the Fox Soccer Channel app (honorable mention, below), it is minimalist and well-designed. It doesn’t detract from the main function of the app, which is to share World Cup info.
This app also features your chosen favorite teams front and center. (In case you’re wondering, mine are, in no particular order, England, Germany, Spain, Italy, Australia, and Brazil.)
In the spinner below your favorites is where all of the other useful information is located, including Scores & Schedule, News, Video, Tables, Stats, and Teams. All of this information is just a finger slide away. Great design.
Best True Footy Fan App: World Football Tracker
Warning: This $0.99 app is for serious fand only! Or for people who really like entering numbers into boxes.
This app lets you plug in your predictions for every game, then figures group stage tables. Based on group stage scores entered (and maybe on world standings, which can be updated with a single click from the Options menu), it predicts round of 16, quarter finals, semi-finals, and final stage face-offs! Rob and I usually make predictions and compete for highest score (3 points for a spot-on correct prediction, 2 points for the right spread, or 1 point for correctly identifying the winner), so this will really help me to see the effects of my predictions and adjust as necessary. Shh, don’t tell him my secret.
But the app isn’t just useful for score predictions. It shows the time, date, and location of every match, includes a knockout table, and lets you choose a favorite team (although I can’t quite figure out how to do that, and there aren’t instructions in the Help section).
For a buck, it’s a great app for serious footy fans.
Best Year-Round App: iFooty (and iFooty Plus for $2.99)
This is the soccer app that I use year round, and even though I can’t see any World Cup-related stats yet because the app displays results and game breakdowns, I am sure that it will be as useful during the World Cup as it was for checking Champions League, Premiere League, Bundesliga, La Liga, or whichever world league(s) you want to follow. It offers push notifications for any teams you specify. As a fan who just can’t watch all the games I want to live, I really love this feature.
Honorable Mention: Fox Soccer Channel
Wow. This one was disappointing. While it supplies the basic, expected features, like displaying group tables and team information (in a style that I found overly difficult to navigate), the news ticker is flashy and distracting, news items were almost two months old, and the gallery images? There are some “fun” galleries, like World Cup of Hair and Hunky Soccer Players Gallery. The captions in this one sound like they were written by a dude whose women told him which players were hot but not why. Now, I am not one to disagree with anyone who says soccer players are hot. But I think serious commentary is expected. I get the impression that some of these galleries were created ahead of June 11 just fill out the gallery section. They are entertaining, that’s for sure, but junk food when I’m looking for meat and potatoes. Check out the hormonal captions Fox Soccer Channel subjects users to.
Michael Ballack: The Chelsea midfielder and Germany captain makes them swoon. And no, that is not a photo of Matt Damon.
Thanks. Because I was confused. Since, you know, Matt Damon regularly moonlights as a Chelsea player.
Landon Donovan: The face of U.S. soccer is a good looking one, indeed.
[Insert picture of chiseled soccer player here]
[Insert generic comment about how hot said chiseled player is]
Cristiano Ronaldo: The Real Madrid star and leader of Portugal has taken over from David Beckham and the sport’s preeminent sex symbol.
What whack job thinks Beckham has lost his sex appeal? Don’t get me wrong, Ronaldo is one fine specimen. But Becks still has it. Am I right, ladies, or am I right?
See what I mean? Believe me, we don’t need Fox telling us who’s hot. Just show us the shirtless pics and we’ll drool on our iPhones all by ourselves. :)
Have another great soccer app? Share it in the comments! If you feel like writing about it, email it to lam (at) lindenamueller.com; I’d love to feature it as a guest post!