I'm not generally much for the soccer or futbol or football or footy or whatever you wanna call it. I usually leave that up to Mustafa to cover up here on the Deuce. A funny thing did happen while watching USA actually compete and ultimately lose to Brazil 3-2 in the championship game of the Confederation Cup however...I watched.
And i didnt just watch when we got into the 2nd round and beyond, I actually watched us lose the first couple games. Not sure why either. Maybe i was just bored, working from home and in desperate need of something interesting on the television. Well, i did indeed find interesting television, great drama even, and it made me keep watching, even when USA was losing. I watched and for the first time saw what the rest of the world sees when it watches soccer...that it is actually a pretty enjoyable sport to watch.
No offense to the MLS, but, it just isnt as interesting. The players arent as good, plain and simple. Brazil and Spain were all-star teams, USA as well to a much lesser degree, but they competed and showed that USA soccer might just be beginning to turn a curve in international soccer. USA can now show up with the best of the world and, at the very least, compete for 90 minutes...and sometimes even win.
This is what USA Soccer needs to do if it wants people like me, the non soccer fan, to watch their games. I didnt grow up playing soccer, it wasn't on tv when I was a kid, we had crappy indoor scocer as our local "pro" teams that came and left quicker than swine flu, so it has taken me quite a bit to warm up to thinking that soccer is a real sport that I would think about watching. 2 things were needed for me to really care about the game: 1) Have a team to care about; and 2) have that team be interesting to watch.
Sure, I could watch the DC United play, they would be my local team by default, but the quality of play in the MLS is so much lesser than, say, the Premiership, that it's like watching the XFL...and we all remember how much that stunk. I could watch Premiership soccer like Mustafa, but I've never been to England and could give 2 shits about what is going on in that country's soccer leagues. In reality, I just want to watch good, American soccer, because I am a gigantic homer. Now, I actually can...sorta...at least in international play. I cannot wait until the World Cup games.
So, congratulations to the USA Soccer team. They did more than just not embarrass themselves and they bought themselves many new fans of soccer. Its ok that they didn't win, they were interesting. They competed and they did so with energy and passion. For that, I thank them. They were a joy to watch.
(AP Photo/Martin Meissner)