World Cup Notes

I must say, this soccer stuff is pretty addicting. When we were home this weekend, the games were on. And for the most part, they were good ones. U.S./Italy, of course. Ghana/Czech Republic. Korea/France.

But is soccer winning over Joe Sixpack, sitting on his couch in his oversized Peyton Manning jersey, engorging himself on the hockey and/or NBA finals (not to mention fistfuls of Chicken Kickers from Dominos)? Does Joe realize that a 1-1 draw, such as U.S./Italy from Saturday, can be one of the most intense sporting encounters he’ll ever witness?

Probably not. Discussing that match with someone who won’t be named, that someone (Hey Dad!) seemed proud to report he had not, in fact, watched the game. “I heard it was 1-1,” he sneered, full of soccer-is-boring indignation, before adding, “Hey, did you watch the U.S. Open?”

There you have it. Soccer is dull. Golf, on the other hand – now that’s exciting!

A handful of futbol thoughts from the weekend…

I wonder if the image of Brian McBride’s bloody face, which ran on the back cover of the NY Post yesterday, will change the thinking of those who still see soccer as some pansy Eurotrash activity. When was the last time you saw an NFL guy with blood streaming down his face?

The coverage on ESPN and ABC has been very good, though I have a few quibbles. I know the announcers are forced to spoon-feed information for soccer neophytes without alienating the serious enthusiasts. But I have no idea what an offside trap is (though I bet it’s painful), and to have the phrase repeatedly tossed at me in crucial game situations without an explanation is irritating.

So is the use of the term “result,” as in, the U.S. needs a result against Ghana. I know that, in this context, result means win. But if we want to get nit-picky, like that freakin’ Uruguayan ref who did U.S./Italy, a loss is a result too. So is a draw. So is everything short of a rainout.

I know “result” is a common part of the overseas soccer lexicon. But when U.S. announcers say it for U.S. viewers, it comes across like your friend who just returned from his first trip to London, saying he was gobsmacked by the country, even if he’s too knackered from the flight to go into detail.

And I’m also tiring of all the clichés about Brazil: how they play the game with the joy and enthusiasm of children, how they’re artists and poets on the pitch, blah blah blah. We get it. With three weeks left and the knockout rounds approaching, I’m afraid it’s only going to get worse.

By Michael Malone