FanDuel - WFBC

June 06, 2006

Get ready to dislike America: American soccer players should enjoy being ridiculed: soon enough they'll be boring world-beaters says SpoFi stalwart Steven Wells.

posted by squealy to soccer at 03:08 PM - 72 comments

OK, let me refine that slightly. The vibrant slice of America that spends every weekend coaching or "scrimmaging" or glued to the Fox Soccer Channel or GolTV is agog with World Cup fever. I resemble that remark. Great link.

posted by Texan_lost_in_NY at 03:14 PM on June 06

I love Steven Wells. He loathes/fears/loves the US so well. However, everytime I read him, much like everytime I watch CNN or FOX News, my opinions of humanity plummet.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 03:19 PM on June 06

That was a great read! I'm a brit, but moved to Canada ten years ago. I'm ridiculously psyched for this World Cup, moreso than any prior one for some reason. I want to share my enthusiasm and excitement. But of course I'm screwed, because on the sports channels it's all: Hockey Hockey Hockey Hockey Hockey Hockey Hockey Hockey Hockey Hockey Hockey Hockey Hockey Hockey Hockey Hockey Hockey Hockey Hockey Hockey *sigh* So I'm largely alone in my excitement.

posted by Drood at 03:28 PM on June 06

Swells is a bit of a troll. A very good and entertaining troll, though. Special kudos for his reference to the Nike ad which pretty much destroyed Jim Rome's ability to mouth off about the game. And for his use of 'spatchcocked'. As for the main point: there's a sense of inevitability about a US win, whether it's four, eight or twelve years from now. (Not this year. Sorry.) And when it comes, I suspect it'll bring a huge wave of bandwagon-jumping, because it's a team sport. Individual success rarely changes the position of a sport in the American collective psyche: that's why Olympic athletes like Michael Johnson remain relatively obscure. (The exceptions: gymnastics and ice skating.) Team success, though, in conjunction with the take-up of the game at the school level? If anything, parents will start to see dollar signs behind little Johnny and Jennie's practice.

posted by etagloh at 04:24 PM on June 06

Yeah. Real boring. I mean, they stop play every four to seven seconds to reset the play from a new line of scrim... oh. wait. Wrong football. It's ok, you're a fellow Saints fan. Sometimes we get confused.

posted by igottheblues at 04:58 PM on June 06

Get ready to run screaming from your computer daily for the next month or so Halomaster.

posted by trox at 04:59 PM on June 06

oh..it's soccer...WHO CARES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! BORING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This comment rings true with other head-in-the-sand rednecks. Yet he thinks golf is a sport. Give me f*cking break.

posted by Texan_lost_in_NY at 05:03 PM on June 06

> the Nike ad which pretty much destroyed Jim > Rome's ability to mouth off about the game. Clue me in. I've seen some of Joga stuff and really like it, but what about them specifically discredits Jim Rome? I know he hates soccer, but so do a lot of other US talk radio wahoos.

posted by drumdance at 05:03 PM on June 06

Drood, Canada's a great place to be for watching the world cup! Every game is on basic cable (either TSN or Sportsnet), sometimes twice, and even The Score has jumped on the bandwagon (although you have to put up with their idiot 'reporters'). I'm thoroughly looking forward to the World Cup, and kinda wishing I was unemployed like last time.... And hockey's over soon...

posted by sauril at 05:21 PM on June 06

Soccer is what you put your kid in when he/she is to little to play Football (American) and Tee Ball

posted by sgtcookzane at 05:35 PM on June 06

You keep thinking that way Sarge. The rest of the world is going to be having a wild party whilst you're sulking in your room.

posted by squealy at 05:48 PM on June 06

Soccer is what you put your kid in when he/she is to little to play Football (American) and Tee Ball Your loss. You don't know what you are missing. I'm completely done with american football(Eagles fan). Soccer is much more fun on many levels. And just imagine-whole nations grind to a halt to follow their teams, not just 18-60 year old males like the NFL. At least you could root for the USA(do it quick because they won't be there long).

posted by pauleye at 06:13 PM on June 06

Football (American) is what idiots put their too-fat kids in who can't run for more than 5 seconds at a clip. And I'm positive the sarge has no idea in hell how physicall the Beautiful Game actually is.

posted by Ricardo at 06:25 PM on June 06

Soccer is what you put your kid in when he/she is to little to play Football (American) and Tee Ball posted by sgtcookzane This is simple. Don't like soccer? Stay out of the thread.

posted by justgary at 06:27 PM on June 06

The rest of the world is going to be having a wild party whilst you're sulking in your room. Since high school, it has been my sneaking suspicion this is true, regardless of my ardor (or lack thereof) for football.
See also: Bragg, Billy The Saturday Boy.

posted by yerfatma at 06:32 PM on June 06

Your loss. You don't know what you are missing. Yea. And there's these. Stupid soccer players and their butt-ugly women.

posted by Texan_lost_in_NY at 06:54 PM on June 06

The Top 5 reasons why soccer is better than football: Soccer players don't wear as many pads Soccer players don't use their hands to play with balls There are no T.V Timeouts in soccer There are no Injury Timeouts in soccer A soccer game is over in half the time it takes to play a football game, but games are a half-hour longer

posted by roscowilly at 09:53 PM on June 06

10 more reasons.

posted by Texan_lost_in_NY at 10:07 PM on June 06

The rest of the world is going to be having a wild party whilst you're sulking in your room. Come on! No one Party's like americans on Super Bowl Sunday.

posted by PGHTOS at 10:41 PM on June 06

PGHTOS, your proof of this is? Besides your uninformed opinion, that is.

posted by billsaysthis at 10:49 PM on June 06

Come on! No one Party's like americans on Super Bowl Sunday. Obviously someone who hasn't seen what goes down in Brazil during the World Cup. Or Germany. Or France. Or Spain. Or Portugal. Or Italy. Or Greece. Heck, check out Little Italy or Greektown in Toronto during the World Cup! Super Bowl parties are as exciting as poetry readings, compared to World Cup bashes around the world.

posted by grum@work at 10:54 PM on June 06

Anyone have the viewership #'s on the NCAA soccer championship? Exactly.

posted by skorch at 11:00 PM on June 06

No one Party's like americans on Super Bowl Sunday. I use to think like that until I happened to be in ireland in 2002. I've never seen anything like the world cup. I knew nothing about soccer, and by the end I was packed into a pub daily to catch it all. The superbowl in america pales in comparison.

posted by justgary at 11:17 PM on June 06

I'm always amused that these internet soccer debates always gravitate toward the US attitude towards the game. There are other countries where soccer has a similar status to the status is has in the US. It's not especially popular in India, Australia, or New Zealand where it has domestic competition from other sports. This is also what will probably keep it from ever being a big deal spectator sport in America. Even if it could rise to the level of the other big sports, it would still trying to share the pie with American Football, Baseball, basketball, and hockey. There's just not that sports money and coverage to go around. That being said, I can appreciate a good soccer match and wish the game well. Now if only we could drum up some interest in Rugby Union, that would be good.

posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:19 PM on June 06

I like the Landon Donovan reference. For some inexplicable reason he irks me big time. If the fates permit, O Great Celestial Blatter in the Sky, let the USA qualify to play Australia in the second round. I want to see Lucas Neill kick pretty boy Landon all the way back to Ohio, or wherever it is he comes from. (Ah, that's better)

posted by owlhouse at 02:56 AM on June 07

What in the world does viewership on the NCAA soccer championship have to do with anything. That just means people here don't watch soccer. We know that and it's their loss. When we watch American football, we get about 30 minutes of action as is evidenced by DirecTVs showing on mondays of each game from play to play. Don't get me wrong, I love football, but it isn't nearly as good to watch as a soccer match. MLS is beginning to put a very credible package together on the pitch and it's just going to get better and better and hopefully bigger and bigger.

posted by Ricardo at 03:02 AM on June 07

What in the world does viewership on the NCAA soccer championship have to do with anything. That just means people here don't watch soccer. Good job. You answered your own question. They don't watch because they don't care. Soccer is not a mainstream sport in the U.S. Never has been, never will be (except in the under 6 year old demographic.)

posted by skorch at 03:40 AM on June 07

Great, skorch. From the article, which I assume you read because of your totally reality-based comment: "[P]ro-soccer in the US is already better attended than in most European countries while the grassroots game continues to explode..." "Never has been, never will be," eh? Yeah, those under-6's are buying an awful lot of MLS tickets, there, Kreskin.

posted by chicobangs at 03:54 AM on June 07

@chicobangs MLS ATTENDANCE SUMMARY 1996-2005 Year G Total Average Growth Median* 1996 160 2,785,001 17,406 15,093 1997 160 2,339,019 14,619 -16.0% 12,733 1998 192 2,747,897 14,312 -2.1% 11,871 1999 192 2,742,102 14,282 -0.2% 12,973 2000 192 2,641,085 13,756 -3.7% 12,690 2001 158 2,363,859 14,961 +8.8% 13,431 2002 140 2,214,878 15,821 +5.7% 14,108 2003 150 2,234,397 14,898 -5.8% 13,719 2004 150 2,333,797 15,559 +4.4% 13,285 2005 192 2,900,716 15,108 -2.9% 12,619 TOTAL 1,686 25,303,092 15,008 -13.2% 13,188 A quick look at some raw data. If 15,000 fans at a game represents an "explosion" and is a greater number than most European countries can muster then I stand by my comment, genius. Also seems that the explosion is a bit of a dud since the average attendance is significantly lower than it was 10 years ago. !5,000 fans at a pro football game in the US would make for a very empty stadium.

posted by skorch at 04:11 AM on June 07

We're arguing the same point. Americans are ignorant of the sport of soccer. I thought we were arguing over whether the World Cup parties were bigger than Super Bowl parties. Whether or not those ignorants are watching doesn't change the fact that MLS is improving every year. The problem with MLS right now is it's kind of like NFL Europe. Whereas I love to watch an NFL game, I would never turn on an NFL Europe game. In the same vein, I don't typically watch MLS games, but instead watch the leagues in England and Spain and Italy. Not that I have a Neilson box, but I'd bet alot of people who do have them and are watching soccer are watching the same things I am. That is why there are now at least 2 dedicated soccer channels on DirecTV (GolTV and FSC). Also, what those stats fail to show is that MLS has much better coverage now than it did 10 years ago. There was maybe 1 game on tv each week and sometimes not even that. Now people can watch 1 or 2 games every week and can get the MLS Pass to watch every game. So there is no doubt that more and more people are watching MLS even if they aren't showing up in the stadiums in droves.

posted by Ricardo at 04:55 AM on June 07

I doubt the MLS is actually better supported than most European leagues. Wells always sprinkles his opinion pieces with "facts" he's just invented to support his argument. No one Party's like americans on Super Bowl Sunday You should try England during a World Cup. We have a riot. Literally.

posted by squealy at 05:07 AM on June 07

It will be like Detroit after an NBA championship...oh wait. Soccer is cool, I played as a youth and still enjoy watching the game when it's played at it's best. Go USA but you gotta know we just don't have the talent pool to draw from. When we aren't the best at a given sport we don't watch or play it much. I am on a softball team named after the Bad News Bears, I should know, we stink.

posted by GoBirds at 05:54 AM on June 07

No one Party's like americans on Super Bowl Sunday. And nobody spells like us, either. Damn man, if you're going to be ignorant in a misguided pro-American way, at least capitalize "Americans." Unless you've been on the European continent during the World Cup, you have no idea what you're talking about. World Cup parties on the Emerald Isle make American Super Bowl parties look like Bingo Night down at the Lions' Club. And they don't do the ungodly horrible halftime shows, either.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 06:18 AM on June 07

No one Party's like americans on Super Bowl Sunday. Yeah, when half of the people are more interested in the fucking commercials, you know you've got a real party going. Dimwit. (And that's not even mentioning the apostrophe.)

posted by blarp at 07:54 AM on June 07

Whatever - some Americans feel it necessary to relate everything to the American idea of whatever it is we're talking about. Be thankful that it's a minority here on Spofi. It is not necessary for America to love futbol for the World Cup to kick unholy ass. It's been doing fine without them, and will do even better with them. And if you're not interested in futbol, do yourself a favour and watch a couple games. Ideally with supporters. If you like sports, you're bound to love this stuff. World Cup is absolutely the greatest tournament in the world. I can hardly wait (and I barely pay attention to the EPL otherwise). It's gonna be fannnnnnnntastic.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 08:26 AM on June 07

It seems like the World Cup is getting a lot more hype than usual in the US. ESPN is doing tons of commercials. All of the practice matches are being discussed. It's been getting plenty of press. Let's not compare football and futbol. There is plenty of love to go around. Lots of us grew up watching them both and still enjoy them (go Rowdies! go Bucs!). And another thing, Super Bowl parties are generally terrible. Tons of people who could care less about the game or choose which team to root for some terribly lame reason. Please let's not use Super Bowl parties as a reflection of the game of (American) football.

posted by bperk at 09:51 AM on June 07

Football (American) is what idiots put their too-fat kids in who can't run for more than 5 seconds at a clip. Actually it's the other way around. The reason the US men's soccer team has never been good is because all the athletes in the US are playing Football, basketball, baseball...and soccer as a distant 4th. One thing I've learned is that an athlete is an athlete, regardless of sport. In college, the guys I played football(American) with could play just about every other sport well. These guys could pick up a basketball and compete with the guys who'd been playing their whole lives. They could get out on a track and compete in the 100m or long jump. Same was true of the other athletes in basketball (one doubled as the high jumper for the track team). If you could get these "athletes" to commit to soccer instead of the other 3 sports, the US would be instantly competitive in soccer. But as it stands these "athletes" concentrate on the other big sports(in general...there are always exceptions). Whereas in other countries these "athletes" generally only play soccer as the other sports are of lesser interest to them

posted by bdaddy at 10:04 AM on June 07

the US would be instantly competitive in soccer The US are ranked 5th in the world by FIFA. I think they've been "competitive" for quite a while now.

posted by qbert72 at 10:29 AM on June 07

Even as a hugely patriotic fan of the US, I'm pretty sure noone here believes the US is then number five team in the world regardless of rankings qbert.

posted by Ricardo at 10:34 AM on June 07

Is it friday yet ? Let the games begin!

posted by trrron at 10:51 AM on June 07

Even as a hugely patriotic fan of the US, I'm pretty sure noone here believes the US is then number five team in the world regardless of rankings qbert. No, we're not 5th best, and there's nothing wrong with that. Italy, England, Argentina, Spain and France (all teams currently ranked below the U.S.) are all better than us, though anything can happen when the whistle blows. Unless you're playing Brazil. Then your screwed 6 ways from Sunday. I'm just ready to get this thing going. Less than 48 hours and counting. It's been a long, looooooooong four years.....

posted by Texan_lost_in_NY at 11:22 AM on June 07

It's been a long, looooooooong four years..... Which is why it's so great... If you mess it up, (mentioning no France 02), it's like water torture waiting for your chance to get back. The idea pushed forward by FIFA and now G14 to play the World Cup every two years is baaaaaaaaad. So it'll probably happen.

posted by Mr Bismarck at 11:34 AM on June 07

But you know why they want the two year thing, Mr. Bismark; it's all about the money. And you're right, four years is perfect. Can you imagine what qualification would look like if it were held every two years? And what it would do to the leagues? No. Every four years is the way to go. Now if we could get a new American president every two years....

posted by Texan_lost_in_NY at 11:47 AM on June 07

Bdaddy is correct. It's a situation that might never change. I think cheerleaders and high school libidos have something to do with it, too: if the captain of the soccer team traditionally dated the captain of the cheerleading squad and they were the ones screwing in the back seat of a limo, wearing their prom-king-and-queen crowns and tiaras, I bet more high-school boys would play soccer. Shit, you could play end guard tackle (end of the bench; guard water bottles; tackle anyone who comes near) on the gridiron team and get a date. I mean, kids need to know that when they sign up to play soccer, half the girls in school will be gagging to wear their letter jacket. Until that changes, America's youth will follow their dicks right onto the football field.

posted by Hugh Janus at 12:06 PM on June 07

if the captain of the soccer team traditionally dated the captain of the cheerleading squad and they were the ones screwing in the back seat of a limo, wearing their prom-king-and-queen crowns and tiaras, I bet more high-school boys would play soccer. There is no doubt whatsoever in my mind that there are more than a few schools (and that number is definitely not shrinking) where this is exactly the case.

posted by chicobangs at 12:21 PM on June 07

if the captain of the soccer team traditionally dated the captain of the cheerleading squad and they were the ones screwing in the back seat of a limo, wearing their prom-king-and-queen crowns and tiaras, I bet more high-school boys would play soccer. There is no doubt whatsoever in my mind that there are more than a few schools (and that number is definitely not shrinking) where this is exactly the case. I know it happened in Richardson, Texas, from 1974 to 1976, except for the screwing part. She was a good Baptist girl. Which meant we broke up and got back together. A lot.

posted by Texan_lost_in_NY at 12:26 PM on June 07

"she got screwed up by religion. she got screwed by soccer players. she got high for the first time in the camps down by the banks of the mississippi river. lord to be seventeen forever."

posted by yerfatma at 12:30 PM on June 07

You keep thinking that way Sarge. The rest of the world is going to be having a wild party whilst you're sulking in your room. I'm gonna go out on a limb here. I'm gonna volunteer my leadership to this platoon. A soccer thread without haters is like a foot without a big toe. And Sergeant Sulka isn't always gonna be here to be that big toe for us. I am American, and not a soccer fan. Due to a childhood trauma involving a soccer ball, I likely never will be. I am not inflexible though -- I have had my opinions changed on many sports from reading this site. I just don't like the arguments presented here for soccer at all. -- "Hot chicks." Not a novelty in any professional sports arena. -- "Biggest parties." I'm not going to Europe anytime soon. I'll be lucky if I make it to Canada. And parties are a terrible way to sell a sport that, rightly or wrongly, is closely tied to rioting. -- "More action than American football." I am a baseball lover -- I don't need to be fed with "action" non-stop. By this argument we should dump both footballs and watch marathons 24/7. While I admire marathon runners, I don't find it a particularly engaging spectator sport. My problem with soccer is that it has appeared, to my untrained, ignorant eye, to be hockey on quaaludes. There is some great athleticism, definitely, but it seems infrequent -- most of the play seems to be long, drawn out attempts to transition to the other side of the field, there seem to be precious few serious attempts at the net, and the final score seems to always be 1-0. And for a game that has so little scoring, there just seems to be little drama because of the apparent difficulty in getting the ball anywhere near a net. This is my perception, and I suppose I am not alone. It is based on some but admittedly not a lot of soccer watching. Maybe if I watched with somebody who could better explain the nuances of the game, I would get more out of it, but how many Americans get that opportunity. As the writer of the post said, even most of the soccer journalism here is Google-based and short on passion, let alone good information -- not that I read all that much soccer journalism anyway. Perhaps you can write this off as, "Your loss," and move on -- I didn't jump in just to bash the sport, but to illustrate one American's reasoning behind failing to love the game. (With apologies to Weedy for throwing yet another Americacentric viewpoint in here, but it is what this post is kinda about.)

posted by BullpenPro at 12:45 PM on June 07

I think BullpenPro has written an extremely insightful reply here. The marathon comparison is very good. Once I stopped to think about it, I am not sure how to even explain what it is that is so beautiful about the sport. I didn't grow up a soccer fan in the slightest, but happened upon some of the televised games of the 94 Cup (I was 24 at the time) and was just absolutely sucked in from the start. It took me a long while (since I had nobody to explain anything to me) to realize much of what was going on. Most of the rules are very contrary to most American sports. For instance: injury time, offsides (close to hockey but not quite), why some fouls were called and some were not, penalty kicks (once again close enough to hockey). I think it was more of the intrigue of who will advance and who will go home that sucked me in at first until I began to understand the game a little. The passing and creativity of certain players, see Zidane, Riquelme & Totti is an amazing draw. The absolute skill of other players, see Henry or Ronaldinho, with a ball at their feet will sometimes leave you breathless. Maybe it's about the slow buildup toward a goal, because those which consist of 8 or more passes in a row tend to be the most beautiful, not because of the product of the goal itself, but how it got there. It does seem to be a near impossibility to turn someone who is not pro soccer onto the sport. Once you can appreciate the "action", then your reward is a good 45-48 minutes of watching it nonstop.

posted by Ricardo at 01:08 PM on June 07

My problem with soccer is that it has appeared, to my untrained, ignorant eye, to be hockey on quaaludes. There is some great athleticism, definitely, but it seems infrequent -- most of the play seems to be long, drawn out attempts to transition to the other side of the field, there seem to be precious few serious attempts at the net, and the final score seems to always be 1-0. And for a game that has so little scoring, there just seems to be little drama because of the apparent difficulty in getting the ball anywhere near a net. This is exactly how I, and all of my friends, feel about Soccer. I'd be willing to bet most of Americans feel this way. Very well put. The only part you forgot was about how a very large part of the game is built around a guy falling to the ground as if he's shot when someone kicks his ankle...going so far as to get carried off on a stretcher sometimes...then when the card comes out they're suddenly fine and able to go on. You have "flopping" in basketball, but not to the extent where the guy pretends to be hurt to warrant a penalty. That always seemed babiesh to me. The argument I always hear about Soccer vs. Football is the "5 yard burst" mocking that soccer fans always make to football fans. For 1, that's a very simplistic view of football (that disregards the recievers and DBs running about 50 yards every play and also disregards the fact that even those that are only running 5 yards are trying to push a 300lb man who's punching them in the head and chest while he's doing it)...for another...from my view of soccer you have a lot of people just standing around as well. It's not like they're doing full sprints the whole game since the field is so large. I think Basketball and hockey is more impressive from a phsyical stamina part as they (with the exception of Shaq) go up and down the court continuously. Hockey, though I don't follow it at all being from the South, to me has the most impressive athletes. If you ever watch a hockey game in person you will learn to respect the men that play it. Non-stop, up and down momentum...from 0 to 100 on ice skates, no less...all the while looking out for someone to smash your head into the boards when you're not looking. (oh and nevermind the small plastic item flying around over 100mph)

posted by bdaddy at 01:38 PM on June 07

I remember going through Junior High and High School, and being a Venezuelan Native, everyone expected me to play football (soccer as they only call it in America).... and I tried out, to go on to play football (Americano)... where I ended up playing guard and linebacker for the rest of my highschool days... But I'll tell you this: - Football was "easy to play" compared to the skills needed to play soccer.... Holly molly, I'm amazed at the shape you got to be in to keep up in soccer, and then the footwork is unbelievable.... plus, when you get hit.... you really get hit.... Every time I hear the soccer bashers talk, I think... They simply are stereotyping.. and have no clue what it takes to be out there.... Football Americano is also great, I love it... I still reminicent of the day I played vs. Mo Vaughn (running back for Trinity Pawling back in 84ī)... felt like I was hitting a Mac truch comming at you at 70 MPH... but I loved it.... Soccer, I just never had the required skills to actually play it well... My hats off to all those soccer fans.. itīs a great Sport! Soccer is like an athletic Chess Match... Yes, there are few goals... but it's more than just a score...it's about dominating the field, controling the ball, and overpowering with not only skill but witt, your opponent... Soccer is a War of dominance..... No wonder countries get so hyped about it.... National prides are at stake!!!! And to me here lies the reason why Soccer is not liked in the US... The US is soo competitive, and likes to Win at everything (which is great), but when it comes to soccer.. they just Can't Do It! ... So it's easier to hate the game and bash it! That way, there's an easy excuse for the failure! (simple truth)

posted by zippinglou at 01:46 PM on June 07

I think Basketball and hockey is more impressive from a phsyical stamina part as they (with the exception of Shaq) go up and down the court continuously. Basketball players would have to run up and down the court something like 21,000 times to match the amount of running put in by Steven Gerrard last season. If they go up and back 100 times a game*, (which I'd guess all but the barest few don't), they'd only have to play 210 games or so to match Stevie-Stand-Around. But back to what seems to be the point of the comments, if not the OP, I know lots of English people who don't like football too. They're in hell right now, but it's perfectly fine to not like it. And on the OP, as an Ipswich fan, I enjoy being in the Championship a lot more than being in the Prem. I know that the Premiership is going to be a battle for survival every week, whereas in the championship, (even though we finished in our worst position since 1966 this season), we have a chance to win, every week. So being an underdog, one rung off the pace is a fine and fun place to be. Of course, if another Roman Abramovich appears with a love of small eastern English port towns and extremely deep pockets, I'll bite his hand off and be very happy being boring and successful. * Math done in head, based on there being 5280 feet in a mile and 94 feet in a basketball court.

posted by Mr Bismarck at 01:55 PM on June 07

but when it comes to soccer.. they just Can't Do It!
May I add an important note to this: I was refering at the mens since the women, as the article accuratly points out, have been dominating for a good while.... Go girls! No wonder in the US tries to associate soccer with it being a "girls sport"... It's there where the success has been!!!!

posted by zippinglou at 02:01 PM on June 07

What some in the US have failed to see, is that its National Soccer team is increasingly getting a lot better. It may not be at the level of the World Soccer Powers, but it is rapidly getting there. They just defeated Venezuela (a real nobody in soccer) 2-0, but it shows they are making progress. In a few more years, many will be jumping in the soccer bandwagon, as it will start making headlines around the globe. Making all those silly detractors look like prehistoric dinosaurs that were unwilling to show support in times of growth!

posted by zippinglou at 02:13 PM on June 07

We love the sports we were involved in as a kids. It doesn't even matter if we had "game". So, at the end of the day...MLSoccer will continue to grow in the US because of the grassroots explosion. But it won't have any affect on NFL, or MLB, or NBA, or even NHL growth. Because by the time we "follow our dicks" into High School Sports...we usually just end up playing the sport we are best at. We Americans will still love all the regional sports we played...but MLS will have a larger pool of talented athletes to draw from. And the rest of the Pro-4 will have selectively better athletes as well.

posted by True Blue at 02:14 PM on June 07

Anyone have the viewership #'s on the NCAA soccer championship? Exactly. Yeah, excellent point. I watched a bit of those, just because it's so hard to find televised soccer in this country, and it was awful. No wonder people like you dislike soccer. Comparing the NCAAs to the World Cup is like comparing a NCAA regional trackmeet to the Olympics, if the Olympics were actually fun to watch. I am an American; I grew up with American sports. I still have my favorite teams in each, but having developed an appreciation for soccer I can't believe how dull and ordinary basketball, football and baseball seem to me now. A good soccer match- of which there will be many at the WC- is like the last five minutes of a close basketball game, but sustained over 90 minutes and without the constant interruption of timeouts and commercials. Yes, they don't score nearly as much, but that's a charm of the game. In the recent Champions' League, Arsenal and Real Madrid played a two-legged match, one game in Madrid and one in London. In those two games only one goal was scored. It may seem boring, but those two games were incredible. The goal scored, by Thierry Henry, was magnificent, and the game played in London- a 0-0 draw- was never dull, was played with such urgency and imagination that only the most jaded would complain about the lack of scoring. If you don't like soccer, fine, but I'd keep quiet about it because you're only proclaiming your deficiency.

posted by chazschwabb at 03:05 PM on June 07

it is not 'ignorants', but rather 'ignoramuses'

posted by garfield at 03:13 PM on June 07

The hardest part of soccer for me is having no one to root for. During the world cup I have the U.S. and Ireland (at times). But since I had nothing to do with soccer growing up, I have no connection to a team. I'm not the type of fan to watch even a whole lot of baseball if I'm not interested in the teams, so that poses a big problem. I think bullpenpro is a rarity, in that he would give the game a chance. Most who say "it's boring" wouldn't. I went through that whole routine with baseball for years. I'd try to convince anyone who said baseball was boring to give it a chance. Not to compare it to other sports. Point out the little things that make the sport great. For the most part it was futile. So now I just enjoy the game and help anyone who 'wants' to learn more. The ironic part is that most of the people who've told me baseball was boring were soccer fans, though they seem much better about interupting baseball discussions with their dislike of baseball.

posted by justgary at 03:59 PM on June 07

I grew up here in America enjoying the "traditional" sports. I thought soccer was for "fags", as we used to say when practicing football. I by chance started to watch some EPL games or Champions League games or even the UEFA Cup games. The skill and athleticism I saw swung me to the "dark side." I am echoing the sentiments of others, give it a try and don't compare to other sports. Passing a ball to someone over 35 yards away is difficult, these guys do it spot on regularly. Just watch the talent and skill and never mind the lack of scoring. The build up to a goal can be and often is beautiful. I am a convert and am looking forward to the games to begin and hope the USA can live up to the ranking by FIFA. Otherwise I will root for England.

posted by chuck'n'duck at 04:26 PM on June 07

I never get the chance to interupt a baseball discussion, though I probably watch more baseball than 99% of Englishmen. I appreciated BullpenPro actually taking the time to explain why he couldn't take to the game rather than merely taking a cheap swipe. And he's right, the World Cup isn't about hot chicks and parties. It's about football. And beer.

posted by squealy at 04:38 PM on June 07

Bullpen Pro, I think you make some excellent, logical points. The hot chicks thing---it was meant as a joke. I think it's very difficult for the passion of the supporters to come through in a thread, but I'll give it a shot. It's a personal account, and very long, so bear with me. In 1970 as a 12 year old in Richardson, Texas (Dallas suburb), the students in my English class were given an assignment to write an essay on a subject we knew nothing about. That night I rode my bike to the newly opened Richardson Public Library and went straight to the sports section. I played baseball and football for a few years and loved sports, so my task was to find a sport I "knew nothing about." I walked through the aisles until my eyes set on a book on the very bottom row of one shelf. To this day I can't remember the title but it was a soccer book on tactics and techniques compiled by the English Football Association. I vaguely remembered soccer games from England being shown on ABC's Wide World of Sports but that was all I knew about the sport, which meant I knew nothing. I checked out the book and set about the task of writing my essay. As I skimmed the book to pull material for my assignment (I rarely read books cover to cover at that age), I noticed the author describe a position called midfielder as one that required a lot of running, generally more than 6 miles a game. The previous summer I spent a few weeks with my grandmother in Kemp, Texas, riding horses and eating at her fantastic Gateway Cafe. Seems I ate enough chicken fried steak and homemade ice cream that summer to put on a few pounds. As I read this book on soccer and all the running midfielders did, I started to wonder if there were any local teams to play for. As it turns out, Richardson Jr. High was trying to assemble its very first soccer team. Try-outs were being held the following Saturday. I vaguely knew a classmate named Mark Plugge and it turned out his father was trying to put the team together. The first "try-out" wasn't exactly very challenging. Only 8 guys showed up, 3 short of what we needed just to field a team. This was Texas. Football country. The kind with pads. Obviously. Anyway, over the next couple of weeks word got around about this new sport called soccer and we went into our first season with 13 players: 8 Americans, 3 Canadians and 1 Guatemalan. I was the only natural left-footer on the team, had a bit of a mean streak, and that was enough to make the left midfield position my own. We played against mostly Catholic and other private schools who all had strong immigrant influences in their coaches and players. We got thumped pretty good early on but we improved consistently and were competitive as the months and years wore on. To be continued...

posted by Texan_lost_in_NY at 05:59 PM on June 07

The Dallas area, particularly North Dallas, was becoming quite a hotbed for soccer and was heavily influenced by the Dallas Tornado of the old North American Soccer League. The Cowboys obviously owned the city's sports landscape as there was no local NBA or MLB franchise at the time, but the Tornado drew decent crowds, mostly kids in their soccer uniforms and their parents/coaches. I'll try to speed this along.... It seemed my love for the game grew every time I stepped on the field. I had a stepfather who was a "typical" Texan of his generation: former high school football star, golden gloves boxer and Marine. He HATED soccer and never gave me a moment's peace about it or anything resembling support. He called it a sissy sport and constantly ridiculed me for playing, saying "real men play football"....over and over and over again... And the more he said it, the more I dug my heels in, determined to show him he was wrong. I think my relationship with him more than explains the replies I give to SpoFi members who come here bashing the sport. Yea, I admit it. It opens old, deep, very personal wounds. Anyway... ...as I said, the more I played, the more I loved it, and the more I had a point to prove. It wasn't easy to find kids to kick the ball around with back then and I would spend hours upon hours by myself at the football field close to where I lived, Greenville Ave. Stadium. The admintrative offices for the school district were right next to the stadium and I would spend hours there alone, as long as it was light outside, kicking the ball against those red-bricked buildings. To become better, I would kick with my left foot, then my right; kick it high, kick it low, hit it first time, head it, trap the ball with chest, thigh, feet....every part of my body except the arms and hands...over and over and over. Then I would go over to the field and run sprints with the ball, slaloming in and out of imaginary defenders and taking shots at invisible goals. I would then drop down and do push-ups and sit-ups until my muscles burned and I was completely exhausted, then I would have a drink of water and do it again. I became a good player, not great, just good, and that extra weight I put on that summer of '69 was long gone. I could run all day and in the summers, that's exactly what I did. From 1968, there was a team selected for a summer tour of England called the Texas Longohorns, nothing to do with the University. They were coached by an ex-pat from Blackpool, England, named Ron Griffith. (This is the first I've seen of the story in the link...gonna have a closer look when I'm done here...for chrissakes.) Anyway, the Longhorns of the early days were the most respected amateur soccer club in all of Texas and every decent player worth his salt wanted to play for them. In 1974, I was lucky enough to be selected to play for them and tour England. I can't even begin to describe how excited and proud I was to make that team...and I had done it in four years. All that work had paid off, and I was a Longhorn. I was selected in March 1974 for the tour departing that July and in the months leading up to the trip, I've never given so much physically to anything, and that includes Air Force boot camp, which I was to experience 3 years later. I'm telling you, we were fit. Doing that much running and exercise in the Texas heat will take a player to a level of fitness he had never known before. There were 40 players selected for the '74 tour, making up 3 teams. I played games for the second and third teams. I didn't have the skill to make the first team but I had the attitude, effort and fitness to do reasonably well against easily the most difficult competition I ever came up against in the English club players. They were much more physical than anything we came across in the States and it was immediately apparent why we were drilled into such physical conditioning. I'm not even going to compare it to training for American football because the physical requirements of the two sports are so different. The only thing I can say about them is that of you haven't played both sports, you really don't understand how challening they are in their own, unique way. We played 10 games...in 19 days... winning 3, losing 5 and drawing 2. At the end of the trip, we were absolutely exhausted, even though most of us were 16-18 years old. I was 6' at the time, weighing 166 pounds before the trip. When I got back to Texas, I weighed 152. OK, the crap food was part of the reason for the weight loss, but it was mainly because of the running and fitness work...yea, it was all stepped up a notch by the trainers in England. I could use some of those workouts today... TBC...

posted by Texan_lost_in_NY at 06:00 PM on June 07

Fast forward 30 years.... Four years and two days ago, I was cautiously revved up for the U.S.'s first group game against Portugal. Portugal were heavy favorites and the U.S. was coming off a horrible performance in France '98, finishing 32nd out of 32 teams, allowing 5 goals, scoring zero. France was such a disappointment after a decent performance on home soil in '94. We beat Colombia to get out of the first round before losing to Brazil and American soccer fans felt there was something to build on. The performance in France '98 was a real eye-opener and we knew we had a long, long way to go to compete at the top level and earn respectability. In that first game for the U.S. against Portugal in '02, you could see the cockiness in the Europeans right from the kick-off, and rightly so. They had some of the best players in the world, including Luis Figo, 2001 World Player of the Year. As a long-suffering American soccer fan, the most I could hope for is that we wouldn't be embarrassed. Kick-off was 4:00 a.m. Houston time and I set my alarm for 3:30 so I could splash some water on my face with still enough time to whip up a couple of breakfast tacos. I had just finished that first taco when John O'Brien snuck in at the back post to blast in the first goal with his left foot off a save from a Brian McBride header! It was 4 minutes into the game and the U.S. was up 1-0! I swear I thought I was in a dream....I jumped up out of my chair and was running around my apartment screaming!!! We had the lead....hell...we SCORED! Which was more than we did in France! A couple of tears somehow found their way down my cheeks and after all the jumping up and down and screaming I did, I just stood there with my arms folded...completely frozen. I kept looking at the score and shaking my head. I couldn't believe what I was seeing! We were leading! Against Portugal!!! Amazing. Absolutely amazing. My blood pressure was almost back to normal and I had returned to my recliner when....holy shit...Landon Donovan crosses the ball, it takes a deflection off a Portugal defender, competely wrong-footing their 'keeper....and it's 2-0 USA!!!!!! I tell you...I was out of my head! 2-0 in the 30th minute and you can see the frustration all over the faces of the Portuguese. And then, before I had a chance to catch my breath, Brian McBride makes a run to the back post and Tony Sanneh's cross is inch perfect: 3-0 USA!!!!! I'm dancing. I'm screaming. Tears streaming down my face. I couldn't believe it...COULDN'T BELIEVE IT!. We're up 3-0 at halftime against a world soccer power, a country many were predicting to win this World Cup. And we're in the lead. The United States. Leading Portugal. 3-0! In the second half Portugal responds as expected, pulling 2 goals back and looking every bit like they might win the game, pull it even at least. But just when they need the ball the most, the last five minutes of the game, they can't get it from us, and more than anything, this next bit might explain why most of the play seems to be long, drawn out attempts to transition to the other side of the field, there seem to be precious few serious attempts at the net. Portugal can't get the ball off us and they touch the ball only 2 or 3 times in those last 5 minutes. If they can't gain possession of the ball, they can't score. It's like a game of high stakes keep-away: make the other team chase the game (ball) and they're going to get frustrated and tired. It's strategic and done with absolute intent. The game ends 3-2 USA. We go on to get out of our group, beat Mexico 2-0 in the first knockout stage before losing 1-0 to Germany in the quarterfinals in a game we could have won. There was a massive lesson learned in that game against Germany as well; big soccer teams know how to win and kill off a game, even if they're not at their best on the day. I'm just about done...couple of more points to address... ...a guy falling to the ground as if he's shot when someone kicks his ankle...going so far as to get carried off on a stretcher sometimes...then when the card comes out they're suddenly fine and able to go on... Believe me, supporters of countries who play the game with integrity feel the same way. Fortunately, your country is one of those, along with (in this World Cup) England, Australia, to a lesser extent Germany, Sweden and Switzerland. IMO, diving is an absolute cancer on the game and I abhor it. The sad thing is, even for the countries I've listed here, if the situation is desperate enough, players will dive to get a call, especially in the penalty box. from my view of soccer you have a lot of people just standing around as well The game is so demanding that players will grab a breath when they can. Remember, there are no timeouts, and the only break is 15 minutes at halftime, the games are 90 minutes long, only 3 substitutions maximum and once a player comes out, he can't go back in. Have a look at the thread Mr. Bismark referenced. Saying the players are just standing around isn't looking at the totality of the game and what they put their bodies through. You have have to see not just the running involved but the starting, stopping, jumping, sliding, shielding the ball with your body, some all-out sprinting, not to mention the mental part of the game. It's unbelievably draining. Combine all this with the fact that the top players compete in about 70 games in a World Cup year and you'll see why they should take a break when they can. Also...back to the diving issue...players feigning injury is also a way to give himself and his teammates and yes, even the opposition, a breather. Remember, no timeouts. And...I haven't even touched touched on how incredibly difficult it is to master a ball without the use of your hands. I think people who haven't played the sport other than a kick-around in the schoolyard have no idea the amount of effort it's taken for these players to become as skilled as they are. And then there's the reading of the game, the peripheral vision.....don't get me started! Heh. OK...you'll all be glad to know...that's it from me. If I type another word other than submitting my picks in the World Cup Confidence Pool between now and Friday, you all have the right to tell me to STFU!

posted by Texan_lost_in_NY at 06:00 PM on June 07

Excuse my math in part I above...it was 9 Americans... I know, I know...STFU!

posted by Texan_lost_in_NY at 06:10 PM on June 07

Nice Texan, nice. (Although I was trying to divide 94 into 5280 in my head and you struggled with 8+3+1...) A left foot and a mean streak have kept me as a first choice footballer for some 30 years now. Four years ago a left foot would get you near the England team.

posted by Mr Bismarck at 07:20 PM on June 07

That is a wonderful story Texan. Mine is a little similar. I played baseball and basketball growing up and once I began to watch soccer, I wanted to play. I bought a ball and went out to some of the local fields here in Atlanta and began playing by myself. I met some Indian guys (from England) and began playing with them year round for about 9 years until last year when I tore my ACL playing in a league at the still being built Silverbacks stadium (artificial turf). I am getting back to the point now where I think I can play again and I can't wait to get back out there. And for garfield, 'ignorants' is a word I've used since I can remember even though I know it's improper.

posted by Ricardo at 08:15 PM on June 07

All I can say is after getting laid off from Sun in 2001 and finding what was then Fox Sports World on cable I've become a voracious fan. I barely watch NFL after it being 'appointment TV' for my entire life and forget just about any other sport. Well, Australian Rules Football and USC football are cool. Frankly nowadays I watch matches like a hawk, using the Tivo remote like a precision tool to get my own instant replays and making unkind remarks to my wife is she stands in front of the TV. Even if the backline is playing possession. People can watch what they like, no problem for me, and I can't seem to enjoy NCAA soccer either, though I did watch some of the youth world cups last year. MLS, as most of you know, lost me with the way they stole the Earthquakes but that's not to do with quality of play. I know how Baltimore Colts fans feel now.

posted by billsaysthis at 11:49 PM on June 07

The ironic part is that most of the people who've told me baseball was boring were soccer fans, though they seem much better about interupting baseball discussions with their dislike of baseball. Does that mean they are good at interrupting, or good about NOT interrupting? In either case, I hope I am not the baseball fan interrupting a soccer discussion -- I was genuinely trying to get involved with what the post and the thread were discussing, that being the relationship between soccer and Americans. I am glad my post inspired more civil response than the "soccer sux" crowd usually, deservedly, get. I wasn't trying to take a cheap swipe, and I am really pleased by the impassioned responses, pariticularly by Tex (holy cow, Tex) and Ricardo. They have certainly served to make me a fan of Texan_lost_in_NY and Ricardo, if not the game. Thanks for the effort -- I will definitely catch some of the WC games, and I will try to see the virtues in creative passing and the possession game. I'll let you know how it goes. In the meantime, I'll be interested in seeing what develops in this thread.

posted by BullpenPro at 03:26 PM on June 08

Ricardo, I was just riffing on the over-arching 'ignorant' theme of this thread. I'm not much for correcting spelling, grammar, etc, as I'm an offender myself. Thanks for taking it in stride...'ignorants' has been added to my own vocabulary. NYTex, what are you Dickens? Getting paid by the word, I mean. Great stuff.

posted by garfield at 03:57 PM on June 08

Great story Texan. It would've made a fantastic column. In fact, it still could. Think about it.. I would also just like to echo those people who think soccer is wimpy. Dudes, clearly, you've never played it. It requires more fitness than anything I've ever played (hockey, baseball, tennis, golf, volleyball - all poorly) and I played barely twice. Also the level of skill is greater than those other games as well. It's the beautiful game - beccause it's at once simple (rules, objectives) and unbelevably taxing and strategic. Such a wonderful thing.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 03:58 PM on June 08

Thanks for the comments guys. I really do appreciate it. You never know what to expect when you put something so personal out there. Thanks again. I considered a column submittal, Weedy, but BullPenPro wrote his reasoned post and I hoped my experience would be a worthy reply. If the powers that be are interested in the story being a column, I'm certainly up for it. Of course I'll have to tidy up my math...8+3+1=.... 30 years after 1974 is...

posted by Texan_lost_in_NY at 04:21 PM on June 08

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