6/12/06 2:30PM Update: Well THAT was ugly. Oy. Sluggish, sloppy, and generally uninspired play by the Americans. Hopefully they’ll step it up next Saturday against the Italians. The Czech Republic had some beautiful finishes on plays that were set up by American lapses. They’re not out of it yet, though. Bring on Italy!
They say that the national pastime in the United States is baseball. Everywhere else in the world, it’s football. The original football is not the Americanized gladitorial combat that passes for football in the USA (which is admittedly really fun in a totally different way). No, what we’re talking about here is a game of finesse, strategy, speed, and power. We call it soccer.
And the rest of the world is absolutely bonkers over it. Let’s use a dubious (and completely unscientific) measuring stick. Crazy fans. Soccer’s psychotic fans far outstrip anything American sports fans can offer. Observe:
- Basketball gives us crazy college students rioting after a big win. Soccer fans routinely die in stampedes at matches worldwide.
- West Virginia University football fans have been rumored to throw batteries and liquor bottles at opposing players. Team USA was targeted with bags of urine and animal blood (ew).
- Detroit Pistons fans storm the court causing a riot with Indiana Pacers players? The ultimate psycho soccer fan (no, that’s not a compliment) sees your riot and raises you a murder. A Columbian player was killed by a fan for scoring an own goal in the 1994 World Cup.
Okay, that took a somewhat more grotesque turn than I had intended. The point I’m trying to make is this: international soccer fans really, REALLY love their sport. And, for the most part, Americans don’t. We’re just not big soccer fans. Yet. Which makes it all the more galling to the rest of the world that the USA is closing the gap.
The United States squad is talented, deep, and well-coached. Wow, listen to me spout off as if I know something. As a casual soccer fan, here’s what I know. The talking heads are all saying that this is the best USA soccer team in a long time. They say that the USA is SLOWLY gaining ground on the rest of the world and could POSSIBLY put together a decent run in this World Cup. As somebody who wants to be excited about the World Cup and the USA’s chances, I translate that to “deep, talented, and well coached”. So sue me.
The USA is in the “Group of Death” with the Czech Republic, Italy, and Ghana. So getting past the first round won’t be easy. But the more I read about it, the more I get excited and hope that they put together a decent run. Regardless, the next few weeks should be fun for soccer fans worldwide, both hardcore and casual. Tune in and watch a game or two!