Tim Howard versus Ghana. Photo (Kevin Djansezian, Getty Images)My focus on soccer is about to take quite the plunge. Think sky-diving, but without the parachute to slow you down. Sure the World Cup is/was exciting. Somehow though, with the loss of the US, the stage just got a whole lot less intense.
The US soccer team falling to Ghana Saturday was just one more reminder of the inferior status of soccer in America. Sure it was a good run, like a Cinderella excavating its way through a March Madness bracket, the US soccer team carved through the first round of the World Cup in cardiac fashion. Sure all American’s felt as if we could take the whole cup after the ending of the pull through match-up against Algeria, it was a dramatic finish; crazy things seem to come out of the mouth of people following spectacular circumstances, just ask Ron Artest. In losing to Ghana, the US lost to an even lower ranked country and a country 90 percent of American’s probably cannot even point out on a map. Somehow it just doesn’t feel right. In the sports world, and I suppose, in testament to our sense of geography.
Those of you whose focus will now head back to your jobs or other important things, like sleeping at 7 a.m. instead of watching soccer, can look at the positives to the US punching its ticket early:
No more vuvuzelas: Ever take a bat and thrash a wasp nest with it then stand by for 90 minutes to see what may happen? Thirty-thousand people blowing vuvuzelas gives off a strikingly close sound to just that, and amazingly inflicts the same amount of pain one could expect from the wasps. Those of you who were left beating the top of your TV thinking ABC and ESPN were experiencing technical difficulties throughout the World Cup can take a seat. That was just the sound of 30 thousand elementary school kids learning to play the trumpet. The sounds of the Vuvuzelas became so entrenched in my head the eloquent feeling of a tack to an eardrum began showing up in my daily TV shows. I began to wander why the crew on the set of Seinfeld was blowing the African horns.
Good bye referees: Never have I witnessed a sport where a game can be changed by a ref as much as World Cup soccer. I realize every country in the world hates the US; I just didn’t realize FIFA was a country. The best example of the pours’ refereeing came from Koman Coulibaly in the US match against Slovenia. What again was the penalty? Oh, that’s right you don’t have to state what you called. Ok. I guess we’ll just take your word for it. Coulibaly’s call, taking away what would have been a go-ahead goal for the US, made Jim Joyce’s call almost look like the right call.
All of those cards: I don’t care what color it is. Yellow, red, purple, hell even turquoise, try running up to Ray Lewis right after he de-cleats Eli Manning and stick one of those cards in his face then right his name on your little pad. The outcome probably wouldn’t be so great. I’m giving this part of the game a billboard size red card.
All of the faked injuries: The amount of flopping in the average World Cup match rivals watching a Celtics game. It’s one thing to fall to the ground because you got your legs taken out. But to cover your face with both hands then grab your left ankle…wait no, the right ankle...wait, what one did you get hit in again? Are these grown men playing a sport we’re watching or an improve class on Broadway? Last time I checked a baseball player getting hit with a 95 mph fastball in the leg takes a deep breath, and then takes his base. What, Fabio, you don’t think people are getting stepped on with cleats in a football pile? It seemed as soon as a player realized there wasn’t a penalty, that once compound-fractured leg seemed to be well enough to cherry pick a goal. Do you believe in MIRICLES! A little note to FIFA; A lot of your boys are pansies.
All of the ‘self proclaimed soccer experts’ can shut it now: I for one feel comfortable to say I did more question asking than watching during the matches. I felt a little alone though. Suddenly everyone in the country that knew nothing of the world’s most popular sport were giving speeches, preaching and doing book signings on soccer. I’m all for supporting the US, or whatever country you’re pulling for, but some took it to their heads a little far. Parts of the US games gave me goose bumps. It’s special when countries compete. But all the American fans who badmouthed soccer for the last four years, or since the last World Cup, can get off the out of control bandwagon they've been riding. It almost made out-of-state Yankee fans look noble. A large portion of the US couldn’t care less about soccer, ‘large portion’ meaning nearly everyone. Oh, no? How many MLS soccer teams can you name, city and mascot? I’m stuck at three. I think there are more though.
At least we made it farther than France. I shouldn’t have to say anything else on that one.
Now that it’s all said and done for the US team, they should still be walking off the field with their heads held high and be thankful they leave the before mentioned behind. This team was able to do what previous generations and Bend it like Beckham could not do. They were able to get the entire US to back soccer. Suddenly, millions of American’s sports fans focus was on the worlds sport. Not Stephen Strasberg, Kobe’s fifth ring, or Ben Roethlisberger, it was on Soccer. That’s a win in itself.