Do Americans really care about soccer now?
Why are there so many soccer haters?
Will soccer ever catch on here? Why not?
As a lifelong soccer player, fan, coach, writer, season ticket holder, and guy who almost threw a bar stool through the Johnny’s North window when Wondo missed that tap-in at the end of the Belgium game, here’s my answer to all of that: Who really cares? I know I don’t.
What I do care about is having fun watching soccer games.
I love watching the US in games that matter, like the World Cup, for example. There’s no better soccer viewing experience for the sheer adrenaline thrill, than watching your countrymen battle it out in a high stakes, win-or-go-home situation. And there’s only a couple games that are more high stakes than the knockout round of the Cup, like the round of 8, semifinals, and final.
Sure, rooting Sporting KC on to a championship last year was great, but that’s about a 5 out of 10 on the excitement scale, whereas the Belgium game was damn near the top.
I really couldn’t care less if “soccer catches on” in the US, or if viewership was more than the World Series and NBA Finals. (Side note: the sport is growing and the viewership has been off the charts).
Granted, I was one of the couple thousand people who showed up at every game at Community America Ballpark for a couple years, so there’s that.
And while I understand the “best athletes” argument, I’m really not all that interested in debating what would happen if LeBron played soccer. OH MY GOD, he would crush that Belgium ginger! Think about Jamaal Charles streaking down the sideline with a ball at his foot, just stiff arming the crap out of mulleted Euros.
Or what if Tony Parker played for the French team?! Just drop it, OK?
I love soccer, most of the world loves soccer, things evolve, trends come and go. Chances are the US will continue getting gradually better and better. However I feel no obligation to defend the sport, to champion it, or to explain why it’s better than Sport X.
Also, I don’t want to explain the rules to you guys anymore. There’s only like two of them. And one of those is you can’t use your hands.
I know what you’re thinking: What about that Jürgen dude? He fucked up big time right? By not selecting Landon Donovan, and then by playing too conservatively against Belgium, right? And why didn’t he play midfielder Kyle Beckerman in the last game? And why didn’t he put in winger Julian Green earlier?
Let me break it down for you.
The US won their first game, with the game winner coming from a guy, John Brooks, that many said shouldn’t be on the team. He’s only there ’cause he’s German! Uh, OK.
The US should have won the second game against Portugal, but they allowed a last second equalizer created by Cristiano Ronaldo. Not really anything Jürgen could do about that.
So instead of going into the Germany game already advancing, the US had to get a result (more or less). Which they did, a 1-0 loss, which put them through.
And then, against a Belgium team that many, many soccer people predicted to win the whole thing, the US could have – should have? – won. Yes, I know that the shot disparity was like 100 – 1 in favor of the Waffle boys. Ever seen a Sporting KC game? But the US was in position to win in the last few seconds if not for a massive choke job from Chris Wondolowski, an old guy that had been subbed in, and that many observers screamed SHOULDN’T EVEN BE ON THE TEAM. Yet there he was, with a prime chance to put the US through to the round of 8.
And oh yeah, Lando’s replacement, 19 year old Julian Green, scored a helluva goal to give the US hope in overtime.
So lay off Jürgen, he’s a pretty good coach.