Monday, July 10, 2006

This American thinks Soccer needs some major changes

It's been said before and I'll go ahead and say it again. Soccer is weak, my friends. Too weak for most Americans to bother with. It's downright painful to watch. Once again, I invested a couple of hours to watch the World Cup final. My biennial affair with soccer was as satisfying as eating Angel Food Cake without any toppings. I can officially vow -- in writing -- not to watch another.

As a basketball fan, the problem is obvious. Soccer is ridiculously, egregiously skewed towards defense. Example: do soccer statisticians track the number of turnovers in a match? If so, what's the record? 5,000?

Selecting (yet another) World Cup champion with penalty kicks is like deciding a Super Bowl with a Punt-Pass-and-Kick competition. Or choosing a World Series champion with a Home-Run Derby.

And it's especially bad when one team -- France -- dominated the pitch for the last 75 minutes. You heard that right: France literally controlled every bit of action for that period. Only a lightning-fast save by Italy's goalkeeper on a brilliant Zidane header kept the match tied.

In the meantime, Italy stacked defenders in their backfield like cordwood and played the least offensive-minded attack one can imagine.

Here's a suggestion: outlaw the goalie. Or get rid of the offsides (I'll admit it, that's still something this gauche American can't even begin to fathom... so let me get this straight: my reward for outhustling the defender is a turnover!). Make the goal bigger. I don't care, just tweak the game to get enough offense that every critical match doesn't end up with penalty-kicks!

That would involve adjusting the rules a bit to get the average score to, say, 5-4.

I'm sure the soccer-holics don't care what Americans think. But I think your sport -- as currently constructed -- isn't worth watching. I suspect there are a lot of other Red-Staters who agree with that sentiment.

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