After weeks of grueling follicular play, the Group Stage of the World Hair Cup has ended. Now, what you've been waiting for: the results.
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To address the most burning issue: You can vote in the Round of 16 here. But first, a bit of ceremony. Congratulations are in order to all teams that advanced—after we bid a fond farewell to a few MVPs who were left behind:
Guillermo Ochoa, Mexico. Position: Goalkeeper.
Guillermo Ochoa, your unbelievable saves against Brazil were echoed only by the glory of your hair. Disciplined by the headband, stunningly spontaneous in its tumble of curls, your hair, bobbing in the aftermath of dive after dive, was a lesson in splendor. Your World Cup journey continues; 'tis a pity your World Hair Cup voyage must stop here.
Keisuke Honda, Japan. Position: Forward.
Keisuke Honda, as with your laser-like accuracy in the 16th minute against Côte d'Ivoire, your spiky blond head raised FIHA's expectations. Alas, as in soccer, hair: Your team's skills aren't yet to your level. Regretfully, we must bid you adieu.
Rodrigo Palacio, Argentina. Position: Forward.
Rodrigo Palacio, a singular hair talent, you are the Lionel Messi of the Argentine hair team. Nature gave you hair that might not look like that of a hair champion—an unremarkable color, a texture lacking verve—and a similarly gifted player would be forgiven for looking at his hair and calling it quits, opting for a basic crewcut. Not you, Palacio. You have the imagination, the vision, and the strength of character to pave your route to an unmistakable hair win. And just as with Messi, your team will never equal your exquisite aptitude. True, the rattail is one-hit wonder, but has a more remarkable hairstyle been seen on the pitch in 2014? You played for Argentina with vigor, might, and majesty. From the FIHA headquarters, we cry for you.
The true loss here, though—and I am not just saying this because I am American—is the hair talents of Kyle Beckerman. Yes, it's the dreads. Yes, it's the mass of the dreads. But even within the standards of high-mass dreadss, Beckerman remains a remarkable player.
In game play he's fluid:
He enables excellent hair assists:
He's unafraid in the face of fierce competition:
And for ceremonial purposes he does all right too:
Kyle Beckerman: You, sir, are the Ghana of your hair group. Thrust into the Group of Death, you played with the passion and ingenuity you're known for, and were you in another group, we may well have seen the United States advance on your merits alone. But in the Group of Death—Meireles's mohawk with matching beard, Gyan's bleached jersey number at the temple, Pepe's glistening curls—even your magnificent mane wasn't enough to save us. Your team is unworthy of your skills. For chrissakes, the third-most-remarkable hair on your team belongs to Michael Bradley.
Michael Bradley, USA. Position: Midfielder. Hair: None.
Kyle Beckerman, on behalf of all of us here at the Fédération Internationale de Hair Association: We salute you. We salute your hair.
Yet: The game must go on. Congratulations to those who made the Round of 16: Brazil, Cameroon, Netherlands, Child, Côte d'Ivoire, Greece, Italy, Uruguay, France, Ecuador, Iran, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Portugal, Ghana, Algeria, and Belgium. Who from the Group of 16 will advance to the quarterfinals? Vote here!
(Confused by how the bracket system works? Click on the above image for a full-size visual.)
(Confused by why The Beheld is temporarily dominated by soccer hair? More on that soon.)