Thursday, June 22, 2006

Soccer is dead. Too bad.

So the US - fielding its alleged "best team ever" - lost to Ghana, 2-1. I actually got up and watched it. Now I wish I would have slept in. What a complete dissapointment.

Now, I don't know a whole hell of a lot about soccer, but you can just tell the US doesn't play it right. I'm sitting here watching the Brazilians play - now this is how you play soccer. They get a shot on goal about every four minutes. They pass the ball a ton. They find each other all over the field. They move with a purpose. I realize the US doesn't have the talent of a Brazil - well, no one does - but still. They should at least try to play like them.

Even if the US played like this, they wouldn't have the success of the Brazilians. But its the right way to do it, I think (even though I don't know what I'm talking about). Like when yuo learn how to type....maybe in the beginning, yuo get better results by just hunting and pecking, but in the long-term, its better to do it the right way. The US is still hunting and pecking, and Brazil is flying along at 120 wpm.

I don't know any technical stuff, but it seems to me the more you pass, the better your offense is. The more goals you score. Most of the goals I've seen in the World Cup are either off free/penalty kicks or off a series of nice passes. Seems to me the successful teams are the best passers.

The US does none of that. Their typical offensive "set" - if thats what you call it - goes something like this (or at least this is what it looks like to someone who doesn't know to much about futbol): Kasey Keller takes the ball out of the back of the net and sets it down on the ground. He then motions to four or five of his teammates, apparently positioning them for a long pass, and then proceeds to boot the ball the length of the field to no one in particular. Hopefully, someone from the opposing team knocks it out of bounds, and the US gets a throw-in. That really seems to be our best bet. If that somehow happens, we throw it in, screw around with the ball for as long as we can, play it back, play it back, play it back...and then find a way to get it to the other team as quickly as possibly. Rarely we'll get a shot off - if we do, it generally sails fifteen to twenty feet over the goal (honestly, if the goal was 30 feet high, the US would have destroyed Ghana. Like 7-2) . Then we play defense.

And that really doesn't work. Just once I would have liked to have seen Keller pass the ball to a teammate and see the US try to work the ball up the field and try to put together an offensive set. Jacking it down the field - essentially hitting and hoping - doesn't work. It resulted in exactly zero goals this World Cup (our lone goal came off a silly turnover). Italy scored as many US goals as the Americans.

Still, US soccer is still growing. They are recognized as someone to take seriously. They are still relatively "young" in terms of national-level experience. The fact that an early exit in a very tough group is seen as a huge dissapointment means alot. The sad part is that this performance has probably extinguished any budding interest in soccer among Americans. I'm not saying it was exploding, but this has to be the most hyped and most covered the event has ever been in the US - mostly because the US was expected to do well. Now soccer interest is on life support.

Soccer is hard to get into. The US implosion in Germany doesn't help, but there are a ton of other reasons why Americans don't get into it. Here's some of them:

1. Soccer players are the biggest pansies in the world. Honestly, outside of syncronized swimming and and ribbon twirling, is there a softer bunch of "athletes" in the world? During the US-Ghana match, the stretch was brough out at least four times. Four! Have you ever seen a sporting event, outside of the beautiful game, where the stretcher was brought out twice? And the shameful thing is, every time some one was stretchered off, he was back in within 5 minutes every time. Incredible.

2. Soccer players are rewarded for being pansies and fakers. They are probably stretched off every 15 minutes because they get rewarded for being wusses. The more you fake, the better off you are. How easy is it to trick a soccer ref? Do they have any what it takes to knock some one over? I mean, any idea? I wish they would have had a soccer ref as a high school teacher. You could cheat your ass off and then blame the kid you were cheating off; you'd get an A and the smart kid would get suspended.

And the grimaces these players make when they take a dive...c'mon, man. Have a little respect. They go down like they were just shot in the calf. Screaming and grabbing...its so embaressing, isn't it? Do they have any pride? I guess its just a different mindset thean the US (at least the Americans don't do that...although when Reyna gift-wrapped that first goal for Ghana, I'm not entirely sure he was that hurt). Probably why Vlade and Manu are the two biggest floppers off all-time...I really would like to see coaches at foreigh they have flop sessions? This drives me nuts. I half expect someone to go down, writhing in pain, during the pregame handshake. Embarressing.

3. Stoppage time. Possibly the dumbest rule in sport. Has there ever been a remotely believable explanation as to why no one can really know when the game is over? Imagine this in other sports..."Three, two, one - and that's it! The Heat are your 2006 NBA Champs! No...wait...There's seven more seconds....Dirk grabs the ball Wade just chucked in the air, feeds Harris under the rim...MAVS WIN! THERE WILL BE A GAME SEVEN!!" Or..."And that wraps it up, ladies and gents, the White Sox win their first world series in 80 some, I'm sorry, the ref awards the Astros 4 more outs....sorry, Chicago, you'll have to wait a little longer for that championship..." It's ridiculous. Its a rule a king or a dictator would make; it makes no sense, but I say so, and we've been doing it for so long, we're not going to stop now. Why can't the clock stop on substitutions and penalties? Let everyone see? Would that really be so hard?

4. Being a "good sport." Here's the situation. Franco takes the ball from Bobino and is about to head up field when he hears Franco screaming in pain a few yards behind him. Being a "good sport," Bobino kicks it out of bounds. Once Franco either recovers or is taken off the field, Franco's team will kick it back to Bobino's. But any advantage Bobino may have gained after the steal in nullified. Because Franco got "hurt."

Seems thoughtful, but its bullshit. 100% BS. First of all, Franco is never hurt. Soccer players are notorious fakers, pansies, wusses, exagerators, cheaters...its rarely genuine. So one team makes a great, clean play, the other fakes an injury, and the guy that makes the great play gets screwed. Well, sportsmanship should apply both ways, no? If one guy is going to be a good sport and kick it out of bounds, shouldn't the guy who is "hurt" be genuine? Just something to think about.

5. Offsides. I know this is like tantamount to sacrelige, but I just don't get it. Why can't I sneak behind a defender? Why? Is it to make the goals more beautiful? I'm being serious here. I don't even want this rule necessarily obliteratied, I just want it explained to me. Since there is offsides, mos goals, at least to me, come off free/penalty kicks and or headers after long crosses (and about 89 failed attempts). Wouldn't there be some prettier, more beautiful goals if you could go any where you wanted?

(The only good thing about offsides? With scores always bein 1-0 or 2-1, no sport gives you more "Oh...Oh...OOOHHH!" moments than soccer. Not even close. So that's fun. Maybe 7-5 games would ruin the sport...but I don't think so. Would it?)

Don't bash me for not getting it, just explain why the rule exists. And change the other four. And figure out who Kasey Keller is pointing at. That's all I'm asking.

Oh, and some other random soccer players always clap to the stands even after a 3-0 beatdown, that a game can actually be decided on penalty kicks (hey, lets end baseball games with a HR derby or basketball games with a dunk to see, not a good way to decide who has a better team) and that two yellow cards gets you suspended for the next game. Seems a little steep, no? OK, I think that's all for now.

4 comments so far. Might as well add your own.:

Witness the dog said...

i'm surprised you didn't mention about not being allowed to sub. that yellow carded suspended player. I think that is crazy, you have two kicks to the opposing teams ankles and not only do you lose a good player but you can't even sub a bad player in for him. That is cat shit man.

jjb said...

you have the worst opinions ever. maybe you should learn a little about the sport before you talk about it.

point 23 said...

This might be my favorite comment ever. I can't decide if it is because this post is nearly a year old or because i readily admitted i didn't know what the hell i was talking about. either way: cheers, jjb.

Jon said...

This article must be a joke? Because I'm laughing at all of your points. You should try playing soccer or at least learn a little about it before you bad mouth arguably the most popular sport in the world .