USA holds England to Draw: World Cup Opens with a Bang?

13 Jun

Despite not winning, or losing for that matter, the US soccer squad’s opening match against the English was a success. Or at least that’s what the ginger giant Alexi Lalas emphatically proclaimed in ABC’s post match analytical breakdown. “We tied! We tied! What a great day for US soccer and a great way to start off the most popular sporting tournament in the world.”

What?

I don’t know about anybody else but I watched the 90+ minutes of riveting elite soccer action with all the emotional intensity of a conservative Republican father at his son’s cheerleading competition.  But that’s fairly typical right? I mean I’m an American; soccer is a sport on par with indoor lacrosse and Formula 1 racing — basically right below the NHL for the average US sports fan.

But why?, I asked myself. This is the most popular and exciting sport in the world. I get amped up about girls gymnastics during the Olympics not because I care about the uneven parallel bars, but because it’s the Olympics. It’s a singular sporting event with no emotional context; there is a natural intensity to the clash of nationalism, culture and good old fashion jingoism which makes for some quality pole vaulting. How is the World Cup not the same.

But for some reason the 1-1 tie this afternoon involving soccer’s seminal nation, England, and the colonial upstart Americans, just didn’t have it. I mean it’s not the pace. We here in America relish the excruciatingly slow pace of baseball, for 162 games no less, hanging on every pitch. We can handle the rhythmically numbing sequence of halfback to fullback back to halfback to left wing.

It was during one of these multiple passes with seemingly no offensive gain that I realized why soccer doesn’t have it. Because despite all the FIFA I had played on XBox, I had absolutely no concept of the strategy. And what was worse I honestly didn’t care.  I’m sure I’ll find myself watching a good portion of the World Cup, and will certainly be moved by the later round intensity of the match, but at the end of the day Americans just don’t get and don’t care about the strategy. It just doesn’t fit neatly into our mindset. We need the setup, the bottom of the ninth, two on two out, down by one run situation. We need to savor the moment.

This of course is why hockey remains the 4th of the 4 major sports, which in this blogger’s opinion is a correctable travesty.  But that is for another post.  To end, I will simply say that I will never claim to understand soccer, American sports fans’ second cousin once removed, but that won’t stop my pursuit of a genuine caring for the world’s most popular sport.

Soccer: America’s second cousin once removed.

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2 Responses to “USA holds England to Draw: World Cup Opens with a Bang?”

  1. Paul June 13, 2010 at 1:41 am #

    Let’s be honest here. You enjoy women’s gymnastics not for the fact that it’s the Olympics, but rather because…they might show the John Tesh “little girls, dancing” spot again!

    …and Dominique Moceanau was smokin hot back in 1996.

  2. Cynthia June 14, 2010 at 11:50 pm #

    paul… i said the same thing

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