Rory Smith

Recent and archived articles by Rory Smith

16 Jul 2018 | 8:00 PM

The World Cup Changed Russia, but for How Long?

MOSCOW — More than anything, Boris Belenkin was excited by the prospect of finally being able to get his hands on some good, quality chewing gum.

16 Jul 2018 | 6:00 AM

France, a World Cup Champion That Stood Above It All in Russia

MOSCOW — They waited until it was over, until the fireworks shot into the sky and the rain soaked them to the skin, until that glistening trophy was safe in their hands and golden confetti sparkled in their hair.

15 Jul 2018 | 2:00 AM

Croatia, Cast in Underdog Role, Has the Look of a Champion

MOSCOW — Something was bothering Croatia’s players and staff members as they reflected on the game that had brought them to the brink of greatness, and on the month that may culminate in what would — by most estimations — be the greatest achievement in World Cup history.

13 Jul 2018 | 10:30 AM

Four Countries. Two Games. One Goal.

They gathered beneath giant screens in London, packed out bars in Brussels, filled the Old Town in Dubrovnik and the Vieux Port in Marseille. They painted their faces and wrapped flags round their shoulders. They bought plastic glasses of beer to throw in celebration, or down in sorrow. They crossed their fingers, and they held their breath.

12 Jul 2018 | 10:30 AM

Third Extra-Time Duel Sends Croatia By England and Into Its First Final

MOSCOW — Their legs had stopped working long before the end. Their muscles ached, their lungs heaved, their bodies creaked and groaned. Croatia’s players had hit their limits and traveled beyond them, yet again; they had drained themselves of adrenaline; they had passed deep into the red, into the pain.

11 Jul 2018 | 9:00 AM

France, With Flash to Spare, Dispatches Belgium in World Cup

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia — They were only glimpses, fleeting and flickering and ultimately insignificant, but they were so tantalizing they were impossible to miss.

11 Jul 2018 | 5:00 AM

Ronaldo Leaves Real Madrid to Join Juventus

Real Madrid had made history only a few minutes before and already Cristiano Ronaldo had grabbed hold of the spotlight, casting it onto his future.

10 Jul 2018 | 11:30 AM

Belgium's Blueprint, Croatia's Chaos, and the Murky Path to World Cup Glory

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia — As with every one of these journeys that is transformed by hindsight into a road map, Belgium’s route to the World Cup semifinals started out in bitter disappointment.

8 Jul 2018 | 8:30 AM

The Clock Strikes Midnight on Russia's Hard-to-Believe Bid

SOCHI, Russia — It was only a couple of minutes to midnight, and Miroslav Romaschenko did not want to leave. As Croatia’s players bounced around in ecstasy and as Russia’s collapsed, disconsolate, onto their backs, the losing team’s assistant manager sat down, frozen in place on the Fisht Stadium’s turf.

6 Jul 2018 | 12:00 AM

When the World's Greatest Soccer Players Gather, Scouts Stay Away

MOSCOW — In the weeks before the World Cup, a flurry of phone calls went around the recruitment departments of some of Europe’s major clubs.