Americans have been heralding the arrival of soccer as a major sport — and America as a major soccer power — for, let's see. . .
Well, this was written in 2005: "Thirty years ago today, the world's greatest player landed in New York. Soccer was suddenly the hottest ticket in town." For those of you who need math help, it was 1975 when Pele came here to revolutionize soccer in America and to inspire a new generation of young soccer players.
You know the sports palaver that follows: "Kids will start playing soccer as their major sport, like in Europe, South America, even Africa. How long will it be before we match up with the best teams in the world? And American fans are 100 percent behind us!"
Well, the U.S. was eliminated from the 2014 World Cup in the round of 16, losing in overtime 2-1. But pundits are the opposite of discouraged,
World Cups have been growing in popularity among Americans for some time, but this tournament has felt different. Explanations for the surge vary, with some pointing to Brazil’s time zone being favorable for American viewers, especially compared to South Africa four years ago.
Say, how did we do in the 2010 Cup in South Africa? The United States was eliminated in the round of 16 in overtime by a score of 2-1 at that World Cup. Sound familiar? Now we hear the recommendations that Americans find or develop some game-changing strikers. Pardon me — why haven't we found such a player in the last four years?
Duly heralded was the outstanding performance by American goalie Tim Howard, who made 16 saves, a World Cup record. But do commentators realize why he had so many saves? Howard had to save so many shots so that the U.S. would only lose by a little. Do you want to hear another impressive record? Belgium's 38 shots tied for fourth most since 1966 and is the most shots taken since 1974 in the World Cup.
The U.S. match with Belgium was completely one-sided. The Belgians spent the entire game on the U.S. side of the pitch, with the U.S. taking 14 shots against the Belgians' 38. The U.S. not only didn't score in regulation time in their elimination match, they didn't score a goal against Germany in the prior match (they lost 1-0) that, due to statistical complexities, got the U.S. into the final 16. Three hours running up and down the pitch wih nary a goal!
By the way, do you know what Belgium's population is, compared with the 300,000,000 or so people who live here? Eleven million. Wouldn't you want to root for that tiny country just on the grounds of underdog sportsmanship? And that's not the worst of it. Costa Rica also advanced to the quarter finals. CR's population? Five million.
So, tell me, who are you rooting for Saturday in the match between Costa Rica and the Netherlands, that behemoth of 17 million people? Tell me, if a nation of five million people like Costa Rica played against one with 300 million people, which would you root for?
Stanton Peele has been empowering people around addiction since writing, with Archie Brodsky, Love and Addiction in 1975. He has developed the on-line Life Process Program. His new book (written with Ilse Thompson) is Recover! Stop Thinking Like an Addict with The PERFECT Program. You can follow Stanton on Twitter and Facebook.