Following the USA’s loss to Ghana in the World Cup’s round of 16 on Saturday, now seems like as good of time as any to inform everyone of what I’ve learned about the global game.
Criticize a coach, and all is lost: Take France and England as examples. The French players basically had a mutiny, and they didn’t even advance out of pool play. John Terry of England criticized his coach recently, and they got embarrassed today by Germany in an elimination game. It’s just not like that in the States. Heck, the 1985 Chicago Bears had coaches that hated each other, and they just kept winning. Sports teams over here just don’t need to get along. In soccer, they must.
When a player falls victim to a hard foul in a blowout, there’s much less pain. You know what I’m talking about. In a one-goal game, if a player collapses after being tapped on the shoulder, that player will roll around on the ground for a minute or so. In a blowout game like some of the ones we’ve seen earlier in the tournament, those players get back up right away. Amazing, isn’t it?
Unless I missed it, there wasn’t any rioting after the Americans’ loss on Saturday. No torched cars. No looting. No National Guard. Where’s your soccer spirit? If you need any proof at all that soccer will never be as big here as it is overseas, that proof can be found in the lack of rioting. And it’s safe to say that’s a good thing.
Apparently, as some sort of sign of sportsmanship, players from opposing teams exchange jerseys after games. Nothing promotes camaraderie like slipping into another man’s sweaty uniform. Yuck! If it was me playing, I’d say, "Thanks, but not thanks."
That’s the way that I and many other sports fans feel now that the United States has been eliminated from the World Cup. The USA lost to Ghana 2-1 in extra time Saturday.
Sure, I’ll probably keep an eye on the rest of the games, but I won’t watch as intensely as I would have if the U.S. was still going.
This is the challenge that soccer faces in this country. For Americans to care, the U.S. must be great.
But the biggest challenge in my opinion is that Americans are used to seeing the best athletes all of the time. Major League Baseball. National Football League. The NBA. The NHL. The best athletes money can buy play in those leagues.
Major League Soccer is a solid product. To be honest with you, I never thought it would have lasted this long, but it has. But those players aren’t the best the world produces. They’re good players. But the MLS isn’t the English Premier League. Real Salt Lake shouldn’t be confused with Real Madrid.
And that’s not something that’s going to change. It’s a chicken-and-egg scenario, and Europeans just care more about soccer and spend a lot more on it than we do. So unless Mark Cuban decides to go hog-wild and invest his own money to buy the best and hope he breaks even, it’s just not going to happen.
I really do enjoy watching the World Cup. But for me, it’s like the Olympics. You get jacked up every four years, and that’s how it will remain.
I figured a future "30 for 30" ESPN documentary would be developed for June 23, 2010, the way this day had started.
The United States’ soccer victory against Algeria with a winning goal in stoppage time marked the first time the USA had won its group at the World Cup since 1930. And without that goal in the final minutes, the USA doesn’t even advance from its group.
Landon Donovan‘s shot into the back of the net off a rebound saved FIFA a lot of headaches after the U.S. had another goal disallowed by a referee’s call. This particular call was hardly as egregious as the one made in the USA’s tie against Slovenia last time out, but still could have proven costly.
The Americans will face Ghana at 1:30 p.m. Saturday as knockout play at the World Cup begins.
But without question, the craziest event to take place in the world of sports started around the same time as the USA’s morning game against Algeria, but took about four or five hours longer. And that’s only counting Wednesday’s play.
John Isner and Nicolas Mahut started their first-round Wimbledon match Tuesday before darkness postponed the remainder of it until Wednesday. But as Wednesday came and went, there was still no winner.
The match is in a fifth set, and that set is tied 59-59! Many records have fallen. Both players passed the previous record for aces in a match. The 118-game set is a record. The 10 hours combined play between Tuesday and Wednesday is a record.
Both players looked gassed as play wound down Wednesday, in particular Isner. But he was the one when the postponement was announced Wednesday that looked upset by the decision after Mahut complained he could no longer see the ball.
We’ve got a big show slated for "Sports Talk" today from 1-2 p.m. on WDAY 970-AM.
Joining me in studio – making his radio debut – is my Forum colleague Andrew Gottenborg. He’ll be filling in for the departed Kerry Collins for the next couple of weeks. Gottenborg is just like Collins, except there’s less risk of him cursing on the air. I’m sure he’ll be a big hit.
Today, we’ll be talking to Fargo auto racer Donny Schatz about tonight’s Tony Stewart Night at Red River Valley Speedway and about his season on the World of Outlaws circuit.
Then, we’ll discuss the USA’s thrilling World Cup victory this morning in the final minutes to push the U.S. into the knockout round. If you didn’t care about the World Cup, will you start to care now?
And last but not least, we have UND athletic director Brian Faison. He’ll talk about The Summit League’s decision to evaluate his university and we’ll get his reaction to the conference choosing to explore adding football.
To take part in the show, call 293-9000 or (800) 279-9329 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
All I know is when MLB umpire Jim Joyce made a bad call to ruin the perfect game attempt by Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga, Joyce couldn’t have handled it better. He manned up. He faced the music. He admitted he made a mistake, and people forgave him for it.
I just haven’t seen this ref do the same. Maybe FIFA doesn’t permit refs to discuss calls. But it seems even the players and coaches involved can’t seem to figure out what the call was.