First, a bit of a disclaimer: This post is about introducing soccer fandom, not introducing soccer as a sport. Also, always keep in mind that I speak fluent sarcasm.
Soccer is my favorite sport. I’ve played it as long as I can remember and continue to play it, watch it, read about it and (at least today) blog about it.
I love the World Cup. I love that the US Men’s National Team is playing well and has a huge game today. I’m excited that unprecedented numbers of people are watching the US team play. If this World Cup has planted a seed of interest in soccer, please allow me to introduce what US Soccer fandom is about.
But before I move on, indulge me a brief HSO (hot sports opinion). Soccer has haters and I shouldn’t let them bother me. But let me say this to (some of) the haters:
If you don’t like soccer, you’re not a fan of sports. You may think you are because you like basketball or baseball or football, but if you hate a sport then you’re not a sports fan. So stick to your NFL or College Football or NBA, but drop the label sports fan. And remember – SportsCenter is for sports fans. If you rue the presence of soccer on SportsCenter then stick to the NFL Network or MLB Network or whatever (just not the Longhorn Network – that thing is an abomination).
1) The World Cup is a tournament that is the culmination of 2+ years of qualifying. Qualifying is done by region, with each region receiving a certain number of spots in the WC. The US is in CONCACAF – a ridiculously long title for what is essentially North & Central America and the Caribbean.
While the US has qualified for 7 straight World Cups (from 1990 to 2014), this is only the second time (albeit in a row) that the US has won qualification for our region.
The furthest the US has gone in a World Cup (to date) was in 2002 when they reached the quarterfinals, by beating Mexico in the round of 16, losing to Germany 1-0. (Frings!)
What you need to know is that being a US Soccer fan requires great patience – we are not a world power, yet, but we are on the rise and will surprise the world one day soon.
2) As an American, you are perfectly entitled to your opinions about how to improve the game, but understand this – soccer is a world sport and the rules won’t change just because Americans want them to change.
Major League Soccer already tried the countdown clock (meaning no stoppage time) and already tried ending tie-games in a shoot-out – both attempts to Americanize the game were failures and were dropped in the early years of the league.
Every sport has rules that fans want to change.
In the same vein – ties are not like kissing your sister. Ties are better than losing and in some cases (such as today for the US), ties can be strategically beneficial.
Of course you may mean “ties are like kissing your sister” in a positive way. In which case, I encourage you to stop your perverted Lannister cosplay. (Game of Thrones reference = #Winning)
3) Feel free to use American sports terms but also be willing to experiment with soccer terms (after all, there was a time in your life that you had to learn what a venti mocha non-soy latte was…).
Here’s a few English soccer terms to learn:
Pitch = Field
Kit = Uniform
Nil = a Zero Score
a Howler= a Mistake
a Screamer = an Amazing/High Velocity Shot that Ends in a Goal
Here’s a few Spanish soccer terms to learn:
El Equipo de Todos = the Team for Everyone (the US Men’s National Team’s Spanish nickname)
Dos a Cero = 2-0 (This is the best term ever. The US team’s recent dominance over Mexico’s team has resulted in many games won by the US by a score of 2-0).
4) Next Steps in Fandom:
Watch the World Cup.
Pick a English Premier League (EPL) Team to follow and watch their games starting in the fall. Thanks to TV rights, more EPL games are on TV in the US than in England. (Further proof that soccer will never make it in the US, right?)
Attend a MLS game. If you’re in the DFW area – support FC Dallas. The team plays an attractive style of soccer and the atmosphere in the stadium is outstanding.
(For those who are Euro-soccer snobs who refuse to watch MLS, let me ask you, did you watch any games involving Stoke City this past year? Terrible style of soccer even though it was played in the glorious EPL)
This World Cup is exemplifying that soccer is the beautiful game. Enjoy becoming a fan.