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Years from now, when Ronaldo's hair has grown back in, when the Italians and Spaniards have stopped whining, and Dae-Han-Min'guk! has stopped ringing in our ears, soccer fans will look back on this World Cup as the one that proved Europe and South America

In the end, traditional powers Brazil and Germany restored order to the unpredictable Cup.

But it was the endearing quarterfinalists from Asia, Africa and North America who truly defined this tournament. Never had teams from those three continents advanced as far, and the way they got there made for great storylines.

It will be a long time before anyone forgets the stunned look on the faces of French players when Senegal -- the former French colony -- kicked off the Cup with a 1-0 win over the defending champions.

As the Senegalese players did a victory dance around their sweat-soaked jerseys, nobody could have imagined the surprises in store over the next 30 days.

Who could have predicted the United States, last-place finishers in 1998, would outlast France, Argentina, Italy, Spain and Portugal and come within a goal beating Germany and reaching a semifinal?

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Michelle Kaufman

The Miami Herald

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