Wednesday, July 02, 2014

An American Watches Some Soccer

I said it four years ago and I’ll say it again now but I really, really want to like soccer. I really do. But man alive, there are some things that have got to change before I can take it seriously. Let’s break it down shall we? 
Diving/Whining 
We Americans are a tough bunch so we’re never going to have warm feelings about someone who drops to the ground grabbing their legs as if they’ll never walk again only to moments later spring up and start running again. Not gonna happen. I understand you’re trying to get a call but come on, be a man. You go down like that you better leave on a stretcher, son. And don’t be a baby when the calls don’t go your way. It appears to me that most calls are coin tosses anyway. 
Wildly Inaccurate Shots
I hear stories about soccer teams practicing but then I see games where dudes launch off shots that end up in section 200 of the stands. What’s up with that? Y’all ever practicing shooting the ball? Seems to me that would be maybe 50% of practice time for the guys up front. 
Wildly Inaccurate Passing
Again, I’d think passing would be something teams would practice a lot. So to see guys totally whiff a pass is confusing to us Americans. 
Not Trying Hard Enough to Intercept Passes 
Often I’ll see a back-checking (I speak hockey better than soccer) defender positioning himself between two opposing players as the ball is passed between them. Stick a leg out! Take a chance and see if you can’t poke that ball a bit and then make a play on it. Play to win, as we say here in America. 
Kicking the Ball Out of Bounds 
I understand that when a team is driving the ball down into your side of the field it’s tempting to stop the bleeding by kicking the ball out of bounds. Sure, it allows you to get more gauze pads but it also gives your opponent more time to get all of their blood downfield. Seems to me a kick back upfield or to a teammate in the center of the field would be more advantageous. But that’s just me.  
Going Backwards 
Yesterday the US team took the ball right at the opening and passed it twice all the way back to the keeper. Our first move was to go the wrong way. The way I see it, we were already halfway to the opponent's goal so what could be gained by going back and having to then cover the whole field? It’s stupid. Go forward. This isn’t that hard. 
Wasting Time
You’re down by a goal with say 10 minutes left in the game. Where’s the urgency? Ball goes out of bounds? Don’t dilly dally, grab that thing and get it back in. Again, America likes a winner so do your best to make that happen. 
Goalie Uniforms 
I get it, you need to stand out from the rest of the team. But why not choose a color related to your country or team? The team’s wearing white? Maybe wear red or blue. But neon green or yellow? Come on. We see you, we see you. 
Shaving Cream 
Just when I thought soccer couldn’t get more precious they’ve now given the refs a can of shaving cream for marking out free kicks. You could always just point to a spot. I mean, soccer doesn’t seem too overly concerned about accuracy so why start now? 
Extra Time
Speaking of accuracy, why not just stop the clock when someone gets hurt or someone runs on the field or whatever? But randomly adding an arbitrary amount of minutes on to the end of a game? Not in this country, pal. 
Bibs 
Here in America we have a little system for differentiating players who are currently in the game versus those who are out of the game. We call it a sideline. I believer soccer has one, too. So why in god’s name do the reserves need to wear those x-ray-at-the-dentist bibs? We can tell who’s playing, we don’t need special bibs. 
Scoreless Games 
I like watching grown men kick the ball around for 90 minutes with no result as much as the next guy but come on. Make the field smaller or the goal bigger or something. And ties? Come on. If there ain't a winner there ain’t gonna be much of a crowd, at least here in the US of A. 
Calling it What We Want
It’s “soccer.” They play “games.” Between two “teams.” On a “field.” Who cares what terms we use to describe it? Must we call it a football match between two sides played on a pitch? I say call it what we want. 

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