Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Remember way back in the 1960's, when the North American Soccer League was starting up in the United States and everyone was convinced that soccer was the sport of the future? (Note: the demographic of readers skews pretty old.)

And then remember in the 1970's, when the Cosmos were filling Giants Stadium with a team of world all-stars including Beckenbauer and Chinaglia, when soccer was the sport of the future?

Or was it when America finally got to host the World Cup in the 1990's?

We've been waiting for that one moment that might signal that all those kids who have been playing soccer for the past few decades might translate into some actual interest in watching the darn game.

That moment, or perhaps more specificially, game, might have come today.

Americans got a lesson in the dramatics in the sport today when Team USA took a 1-0 decision over its arch-rivals, Algeria. (OK, that sentence isn't completely accurate, but it sure was fun to type.)

Defensive games can be very exciting when the stakes are at their highest. Remember Game Seven of the 1991 World Series between the Twins and Braves, when Jack Morris just wouldn't let Atlanta score? Or some of the many hockey games at playoff time when a single shot could end or prolong a season for the two teams?

This was just like that. With America needing a win to advance to the Round of 16, it kept applying the pressure on thrust after thrust down the field. Certainly one of the attacks had to result in a goal, right?

Maybe not. You've seen baseball games in which one team leaves 18 men on base in a shutout loss. This seemed like it was headed for that fate ... until Landon Donovan, the face of American soccer, scored in the last two minutes to win the game, 1-0. Even I, someone who has trouble understanding the offside rule, can see what an elegant athlete Donovan is.

I've learned not to jump to conclusions when it comes to soccer. The women's World Cup of 1999, you might remember, was going to start some sort of boom for the game. We're still waiting for that.

Still, many Americans got a lesson that soccer doesn't have to be 90 minutes of keep-away. And maybe they'll learn some more lessons on Saturday against our arch-rivals from Ghana.

That's a fun one to type too.

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