World Party

June 11, 2010 | Dwayne Showalter

This is what I know about World Cup soccer…er football.  See, right off the bat I’m not even sure what you call it.


I know they play every four years kind of like the Olympics and this year its in South Africa.


I know the fans get all dressed up and sing songs all game long.


I know a lot of European stars have smokin’ hot girlfriends/wives.


I know Argentina won in 1986 with a guy named Maradona.  I really couldn’t tell you who won 4 years ago but I think it was Germany.  (Thanks to Wikipedia, I now know I was close…the tournament was held in Germany – but won by the Italians).


I know names of two U.S. players, Donovan and Altadore.


I guess the point is, like most Americans, I don’t know a whole lot about this thing.  I have my reasons.  One being the injury time.  I mean someone gets hurt (which we all know they are usually faking) and the time is added to the backside of the half.  No one except the referee knows how much time is actually accumulated for the extra time.  That seems fishy to me.  And it takes away any chance for the announcer to exclaim “Five seconds to go…..Do you believe in miracles!?”


Another reason I don’t sprout wood for the whole scene is not so much the lack of scoring but the lack of scoring chances.  A hockey game sees each team put 30 or so shots on goal during game and garner about 15 quality scoring chances a side.  A lacrosse game (unless Notre Dame is playing) sees even more chances.


I’ve heard arguments that a 21-14 NFL game is no different than a 3-2 soccer game.  I’m not sure I buy that.  For one, I’d consider that a relatively low scoring NFL game and a high scoring soccer game.  Also, the element of brutality should make it tougher to score in American football.


I don’t like that on the sports grandest stage, the game can end in a shootout.  That’s like the Super Bowl being decided by extra points, the Daytona 500 finishing under yellow or the Stanley Cup Finals going to a shootout.  Let them play all day if they have to until someone scores a real goal


However, I am willing to give this spectacle my attention over the next few weeks (how long does it last anyway?  I know the Olympics are two weeks, the NCAA tournament is three).  I’ll root hard for the U.S. team.  I’ll root some for Uruguay since I’ve been there.  I’ll probably pull a little for England after we play them in the opener since I speak English.


I wonder what a deep run by the U.S. team would do for the sport in this country.  Would it have some galvanizing affect like the 1980 Olympic hockey team did?  I doubt it.  Shoot, I bet half the people in this country today are rooting for someone else.  The US women winning however many years ago certainly raised the profile of soccer in general here but I think soccer is still looking for that watershed moment – like the ’58 Colts-Giants game or Lake Placid.


I don’t know why I am skeptical about it.  I mean the whole world loves this thing.  And we generally bail on it.  Maybe its because we already have baseball to bore us?  So in this town, with the way the O’s are playing, we should be welcoming the World Cup with open arms.


So hey, lets get this party started.  Go U.S.A.!