The U.S. team's spectacular last-minute win Wednesday has again fueledspeculation that soccer may be on the edge of going mainstream in this country. America is famously bored by the world-beloved sport, preferring baseball or football; what's more, soccer seems to dredge up the sort of hate
in some quarters that would seem strong even at an
anti-Yankees rally in Boston. With all this working against them, American soccer fans were worried that something as small as poor refereeing
might reverse the pro-soccer momentum of the past weeks. The
photo-finish Algeria match, though, may have swept those worries away. Is
soccer finallyat the tipping point, as people have been predicting for years?
Soccer, American Style The New York Times' George Vecsey
argues that the U.S. team's fight against Algeria was carried out in a
particularly American fashion, with a heavy emphasis on athleticism and
These were not foreign athletes. These were
Americans doing something recognizable--Jordan thumping his chest,
taking the court for the last shot; Jeter clapping his hands upon
getting to second base, summoning something from within, something
Americans have seen before ... As the need for a goal increased,
Bradley sent in Benny Feilhaber at the half, Edson Buddle at the 64th
minute, then Beasley. Now it was the old pro football drill of
everybody go long. How American was that?
The Perfect Storm "American soccer fans have been waiting for this moment for decades," writes Ken Gude,
co-founder of Association Football, at The Huffington Post. "Support
for soccer in the United States has been growing steadily," and
broadcasters have adjusted accordingly. "The missing ingredient seemed
to be something that would capture the attention of the casual sports
fan and the broader American public. Nothing does that like outrage and
winning," both of which have been in good supply in this tournament.
With the U.S. advancing into plausibly winnable matches in the
octafinals and quarterfinals, "everything seems to be coming together
at the right time."
'The Day I Was Waiting for My Whole Soccer-Fan Life' Will Bunch
at The Huffington Post remembers wishing Americans would once celebrate
an American soccer win like Argentinians do for their team. "June 23,
2010, the day that Landon Donovan scored the greatest goal in American
history, and people honked their horns and poured out into the street,
just like I imagined 20 years ago." He links to photos and stories of
celebrations on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, bars in D.C.
and San Francisco. Particularly sweet for him, though, was the reaction
in Philadelphia, his "adopted NFL-crazed hometown."
tuned into Philly's current sports talk king and heard caller after
caller wanting to talk soccer, about how exciting the game was. One
caller said he was a UPS driver in the middle of his daily route--he
said he saw people literally running out into the street after the game
ended; that's how excited Americans were, and how anxious to share the
incredible thing they'd just seen with their neighbors.
running out into the street, in Philadelphia, Pa. Over a soccer goal.
Just the way I'd once fantasized, yet in my heart doubted would ever
Okay, I'm Convinced "For as long as I can remember,
soccer was supposed to be the next big thing on the American sports
scene," writes a skeptical John--not
a huge soccer fan--at PowerLine. But he thinks that this year it might
actually happen. "As evidence, I offer this video from a bar in
Nebraska--Nebraska! OK, it was Lincoln, but still. The video shows the
last minute and a half of the U.S. victory over Algeria, with Landon
Donovan's winning goal:"
Oh, Please No Foreign Policy's Dan Drezner acknowledges that the victory "seemed tailor-made for pushing the popularity of the sport in this country to the next level. Americans like winners, but they really like
last-minute, come-from-behind winners, and this American team seems to
excel in that area." Still, he's got visions of Americans rioting over
soccer like the French do, or"Philosophers using a national team's sporting performance to opine about the state of the union." Says Drezner, "I'll take American semi-engagement with soccer over French obsession any day of the week, thank you very much."
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