The World Cup continues with the USA bowing out earlier than desired but still providing thrills for the sport's fans here in the States. It's amazing really that a nation that treats soccer like a colicky redheaded stepchild was treated to such a fine showing on the sport's biggest stage. This is on par with a pick-up team from Bangladesh facing the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals.
Well, not exactly, but it's still pretty surprising.
Since Landon Donovan's goal that shocked Algeria sent the USA into the knockout round, I have read a lot about how the excitement for soccer in the USA that we just witnessed won't last. Writers were quick to point out that soccer will never be a dominate sport in this country.
With all due respect to those who think that way, you are missing the point.
Soccer doesn't have to be mentioned in the same breath as baseball, basketball or football.
The sport would do well–and I believe its governing body here knows this–if it is on par with hockey, America's colicky Moosehead-drinking Canadian cousin.
Heck, if I were in charge of USA soccer, I would set as a realistic goal overtaking hockey in popularity by 2014.
Talk about an achievable goal!
“Give 'em Halos: World Cup Edition, Part Two” represents my attempt to inch soccer closer to that goal.
Watch your backs, blue liners!
Pretend Injury Award
As exciting as the World Cup games have been to watch, there is no doubt the biggest knock most Americans have with the sport is the ridiculous acting. A gentle nudge is treated like a anesthesia-free amputation. Players go down after a bump that my 9-year-old would barely feel.
It's embarrassing, but sadly, its part of the game.
The Angels Pretend Injury Award goes to . . .
The Angels placed their infielder on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left forearm. The odd thing about Izturis' injury is he has no idea how it happened. There is no Mark Teixeira hit at home plate like the one that knocked Bobby Wilson out. No Casey McGehee slide into a leg like what sent Erick Aybra to the DL.
Nope, for Izturis . . . well . . . he just hurts.
Sucks getting old.
Ties are supposed to be like kissing your sister. Ew. Brazil and Portugal just battled to a 0-0 tie and the sports haters laughed. Sure, they can appreciate the thrill of a baseball game that's tied at 0 going into the 10th inning or a defensive battle between two basketball teams, but a 0-0 soccer game draws yawns.
Of course, the main reason for the apathy is because in soccer, a winner is never decided in the early World Cup rounds. Ties are accepted.
Even hockey had the wherewithal to not let their teams tie.
A tie is a good thing for the team that earned it; as in a 1-1 tie. The team that scored the last goal can walk away feeling better about themselves. The team that gave up the tieing goal, well, they are mad. Either way, a tie represents mediocracy. You didn't win, you didn't lose. Pucker up, sis.
The Angels “Tie” Award for Mediocracy goes to . . .
Angels hitters are improving. There has certainly been some upswing, but rankings of 15th in batting average, 7th in homeruns, 6th in runs batted in and 9th in hits reeks of mediocracy.
[Landon Donovan Goal at 91st Minute
The intensity of the moment was amazing. The USA was within a minute or two of being sent home. A 0-0 tie against Algeria wouldn't be enough to send them onto the next round.
When France returned home after their fiasco in South Africa, police had to protect the team from angry fans and media. If the USA would have returned home after a tie or loss to Algeria, not even a single mall cop on a Segway would have been needed to thwart the "throngs” who would have awaited the team's arrival. Their arrival would have been throng-free.