OK, Janine, here we go!
Like many people here in the US of A, I am taking my quadrennial dip into the waters of international futbol by following the World Cup, although I guess I should say the FIFA World Cup so as to avoid potential lawsuits.
I have been following the fortunes of Team USA, and am hoping that they can make it out of Pool Play and into the knockout round. We'll know after Thursday's match with Germany. I watched the game against Portugal on Sunday afternoon in its entirety, and was heartbroken (OK, that may be stating it a bit strongly, but you get the idea) when Portugal scored the tying goal in, literally, the last seconds of the game.
Let me say right off the bat that I have nephews and nieces who play futbol on the high school level, so I really don't want to come off as an Ugly American when discussing the world's most popular game, BUT there are some things about the game that keep me, and I suspect many other Americans, from becoming a rabid fan of the Beautiful Game. I will not even comment upon the lack of offense in these games. That is too much of a cliche, but here are some things that bother me.
- Stoppage Time. The clock never stops running in futbol games so when ninety minutes have expired, the referee adds "stoppage time" to the game for those periods during regulation when play, but not the clock, was halted. The trouble is, no one has any idea how the ref comes up with a figure for stoppage time, and the time is nowhere to be seen on the field of play or the TV screen when the game is in "stoppage time". That USA-Portugal game is a perfect case in point. Would the USA have played differently had they known that there were only seconds remaining in the game when Portugal scored that tying goal? Who knows? By the way, if someone can correct me on this, I am happy to listen.
- Talk is already afoot that the USA and Germany will "agree" to play for a draw in Thursday's match because such a result will allow each team to advance out of pool play and into the knockout round. That does not strike me as being altogether kosher in terms of any sporting event, but such are the machinations of the FIFA World Cup.
- Diving or Flopping. People complain about players in the NBA "flopping" in order to draw fouls, but the NBA guys have nothing on these international futbol-ers. I have seen guys fall down like they have been shot with an AK-47when replays clearly show that they have been barely touched, if they have been touched at all. I mean...
To my many family members, friends, and readers whom I know to be big futbol fans, I apologize for what you will no doubt consider my narrow view. I hope that my final observation will serve to put me back into your good graces.
- Clint Dempsey is one major badass dude who I would love to have on my team in ANY sport.
All that said, Let's Go USA!!!!!!