WATCHING PROFESSIONAL SOCCER HASN’T COMPLETELY CAUGHT ON IN THE STATES
When I mention my love for soccer, only a small percentage of friends say they enjoy the game. A typical response to the game is the lack of scoring. I understand their perspective but does it have to be their first response? Typically, after mentioning this, people not particularly warm to the game are unable to find another fault to the game. Ok, their first and only complaint revolves around the lack of scoring. Point well taken. Therefore, if there were 6 or 8 goals scored each game, would they embrace International Football (Soccer)?
SOCCER RULES CAN SOMETIMES BE CONFUSING
Ok, even though I’m fairly comfortable with the rules of soccer, I’m sometimes confused on the call and if some of these uncertain calls are not explained or placed in context, you may not know. Sometimes, soccer rules or calls on the field remind me of hockey – it appears a foul/penalty is committed and it’s not called. On the other hand, I’m sometimes surprised when they stop play and call a foul. Am I the only one that feels that way? Thankfully, that confusion or lack of knowing is infrequent so most of the time, things can be analyzed and explained.
BOY, CAN THEY PASS…
Years ago, it used to be hard for me to not get over on the idea there’s unlimited scoring but now I appreciate some of the more subtle aspects of the game. Now, I can appreciate the wonderful passing they do while keeping the ball away from the opponents or setting up their offense. It doesn’t matter what part of the field – the way they spread the field to help set up is a thing of beauty. In addition, the way they are able to fit the ball in between defenders is interesting and the way they are able to pass the ball to a location in the field enabling the player to grab the ball and continue to move forward. Sometimes, they take their time setting up their offensive charge – trying to find the right moment when to take charge and strike against the defenders. It doesn’t always result in a shot toward the goal or a shot on goal, regardless, that passing and organizing their offense is a thing of beauty.
Offsides means when the ball is kicked by the offensive player, there has to be two defenders between you and the goal area. What’s the practical application? Sometimes, defensive teams will try to “trap” the offensive player into offsides. In other words, the last defender (besides the goalie) will sometimes move towards the ball right before the ball is kicked. So as to trap the offensive team into offsides. The danger arises when the defense attempts to do an offsides trap but offsides is not called. Therefore, it’s one on one between the striker and the goalie. This is not terribly common but when it occurs, it’s interesting to see it played out between the teams.
COMMERCIAL FREE HALF OF SOCCER (45 MINUTES)
For an American to watch an entire half of soccer on TV without commercials is a godsend. I can’t think of any other sports on TV where this is the case. I know this may sound out of this world but I could use a 2 minute break every 10-15 minutes. Maybe it’s how I’m conditioned with American sports on TV. I’m usually viewing the game and home and it gives me a chance to clean or organize or do a quick task during the commercial break.
PLAYED OUTSIDE ON NATURAL GRASS
How many casual American soccer fans realize that all international games are played outdoors? How many casual American soccer fans realize they play on natural grass? In my opinion, I’d love these playing conditions. And I’d love for these requirements to apply to all College and NFL games.
Many Americans unfamiliar with soccer don’t realize it can be a physical game. It’s not like American football mind you, but there are tackles and challenges to steal the ball not to mention the pushing and grabbing and elbowing during corner kicks.
Frankly, I’d like to see more scoring; it would add something to the game. Maybe widen the goal? Improve the ball so players have more control? I don’t know for sure but I don’t see how additional scoring would hurt the names. Sometimes, the better team doesn’t always win so perhaps an increase in scoring would improve the chance that the best team wins.
DRIBBLING AND BALL CONTROL
There’s a good dribbler, that’s fun to watch too. It’s almost as much fun as watching a very skillful team organizing their offense to attack.
LEGITIMATE TACKLING IS OK IN SOCCER
Tackling or challenging the ball can also be a fun aspect of the game to watch. Where the defensive player can sometimes bring down an attacker if they’re able to get the ball, most of the time it’s legal and a integral part of their defensive approach.
DON’T GET TOO CUTE (COUNTER ATTACK)
Sometimes, the offensive player trying to make something happen may hold onto the ball too long.
This can be dangerous, especially if there’s open field behind the attacker. In other words, if the ball is stolen, the defensive player not only has momentum and speed but also has room to roam. Many goals are scored where the one team is too focused on offense and their defense is vulnerable if the ball is stolen (around the center line) and they have to try to stop the counter attack as they’re out of position. This is called a counter attack.
I love the yellow card, even though earning one during a match indicates a serious infraction. For example, a blatant hand ball may result in a yellow card. If you tackle or challenge the attacker physically without touching the ball, this usually results in a yellow card. Unsportsmanlike contact also can get you a yellow card (if not a red card). There are different guidelines but two yellow cards during a game or a stretch of games in the FIFA (Federation Internationale de Football Association) World Cup means you have to sit out a game. The yellow card is also used by the referee as a deterrent if the game is getting out of hand. If things are really rough, the referee may use the yellow card liberally to maintain order. This is the exception rather than the rule and is up to the referee’s discretion.
IS FLOPPING NECESSARY IN INTERNATIONAL FOOTBALL?
Sometimes, too many players fall or “flop” when slightly bumped, kicked, tripped, or elbowed. Sometimes the victim falls as they’ve been shot. It’s dramatic, and in my opinion, International football doesn’t need. Sometimes, if the player flops to the ground without being touched, the referee has the discretion to give that player a yellow card.
Of course, it has to be clear that the player is “flopping” before the yellow card is issued. Trying to get a free kick or tricking the referee in issuing a defender a yellow card could backfire – the person doing the acting could be issued the yellow card instead. This of course is up to the discretion of the referee. I’m wondering if we’ll ever get to the point that “flopping” done in other major American sports will warrant a similar penalty.