World Cup Musings – Part I
Americans refer to this game as Soccer although to the rest of the world, it’s considered football. To help clarify things within this post, as an American, I will refer to this game as Soccer or World Football.
Drama, Drama, Drama: Too much drama, by many of the players, especially from Central and South America. If they are bumped or slightly fouled,will they often flop? A fairly descriptive definition found flopping to mean to fall or lied down heavily and nosily. They just don’t fall down, they make such a big spectacle of it – to try to entice the referees to call a foul on their opponent. It’s cynical to the game I love, and sometimes this philosophy adds a black mark if not a yellow card.
Instant Replay Anyone? For those penalty kick fouls, you really need instant replay. Those could be a critical piece of the game so you need that instant replay to ensure the referee got it right.
Sometimes it’s Better to be Lucky than Good: So the Americans lost to a superior squad, Germany, in their last group match and they still qualify for the knock out stage. I believe Germany possessed the ball about 66% of the time and had many more scoring opportunities. It appeared to me the Americans were over matched even though they had an opportunity in the closing minutes to tie the score. Tim Howard, the American goal keeper, made multiple good stops during the first and second 45 minutes. He certainly kept the red, white and blue in the game. With an average goal keeper, the Germans may have scored 3 times.
The excellent goal keeping by Howard reiterates the fact that in the soccer, a really good goalie can keep an average team in the game against a superior opponent. Switching sports, Hockey is another sport where excellent goal tending can keep an inferior team in the game. During the Stanley Cup finals between the NY Rangers and the LA Kings, the Rangers’ goalie, Henrik Lundqvist did a terrific job of stopping many shots by the Kings and kept it close for most part. The LA Kings were the superior squad although Henrik made such a big difference, that most of the games were quite competitive.
Red Cards: Great tool referees can use if there’s serious fouls or actions on the pitch.
So Much a Team Game: Even if you have a Messi or Ronaldo on your team, it’s still 11 on 11. You’d better have a strong team behind you. You can’t do it alone – just ask that phenomenal basketball player from Akron.
Very Little Scoring in Soccer & Too Many Ties: According to ESPN, as of June 24, there were thirty-two games played with a hundred and four goals scored. Roughly, 3 goals per game, and only six ties. With 3 goals per game, there were perhaps 3 or 4 times as many chances in each game. Yes, if you want to see the same amount of goals in world football as an average NHL game, you’re probably attracted to the wrong game. If you appreciate passing and moving the ball around to gain an offensive position, what occurs on the pitch is yours. If you appreciate the active struggle between opposing offensive and defensive sides and plenty of subtle play on the pitch, you’ve come to the right place. If you appreciate skillful challenges and tackles, you’ve come to the right place. Perhaps to enjoy the game more, focus less on the amount of scoring and watch the passing on offense, and the challenges on defense.
Yellow cards are Very Serious: Perhaps a good antidote to be more careful with your challenges and play — next one and you are done for that match and perhaps the next one too. Just a quick note for those who aren’t terribly familiar with the game, if you get two yellow cards in a game, your team plays with one less player. That’s typically a competitive advantage for your opponents. This is not like the NBA where they just replace you with another team member, losing a player, can put you in a tough spot, especially on the offensive end.
Dan Patrick Shouldn’t Speak out of Both Sides of his Mouth: So during the Dan Patrick Show, over the last several years, Dan only wants to provide 5 good soccer seconds for his producer, Paul Pabst. Even during the World Cup when he books guests such as Alexi Lalas, Landon Donovan, and NBC analyst, Kyle Martino, the 5 second rule applies. Dan, bring yourself to the 21st century mentality — time to give the world’s most popular sport a little love. BTW, a few days after interviewing Mr. Martino, another Kyle, in Beckerman called in to Dan’s show to talk World Cup. As some World Football fans may know, NBC and NBC Sports now broadcast English Premier League games, often on weekends. As an NBC employee, Mr. Patrick will either be told to start giving soccer more love or he will finally accept the trend that this sport is not going anywhere and will continue to gain popularity, especially for fans under 40.
BTW, he booked a few more soccer players in between my initial notes and actual publication of this blog post.