At age 20, Lionel Messi scored 16 goals in 40 appearances for Barcelona. Wayne Rooney played 48 games and scored 19 times for Manchester United. At the same age, Clint Dempsey played college soccer. He played 19 games with unlimited substitutions and a countdown clock. Of the 23 members of the United States World Cup squad, 16 were developed in the U.S., and 11 of those played college soccer. I am willing to bet that they were the only 11 players in the entire tournament with college experience.
-James Rodriguez appears to be on his way to Real Madrid for a silly amount of money. The 23-year old Colombian was the breakout star of the World Cup, claiming the golden boot, and now is on the verge of joining the European champions for a transfer fee of $120 million. That’s a lot of money to spend for a player who scored just nine goals in Ligue 1 last season, but that is also the Real Madrid way. Rodriguez isn’t needed; Real already has incredible amounts of attacking talent. But Madrid loves star power, and no one’s star is brighter right now than James Rodriguez.
“I’ve finally learned to accept myself for who I am: a beggar for good soccer.”
Originally published in 1995, Eduardo Galeano’s Soccer in Sun and Shadow is, at its core, a love letter to the game. There are a lot of books that tell the history of the sport, from its roots to the modern day; this is one of them. But, unlike most others, this tells why that history matters. Soccer in Sun and Shadow conveys the joy of the game in its prose. In short, it is poetry.
So, the World Cup ended, and you’re craving for soccer. If you’re wondering “what’s next;” here’s a brief runthrough:
I want to watch something as soon as possible. Like, tonight, if possible.
Major League Soccer is going on as we speak, with a full slate of games this upcoming weekend. MLS is our league, with many members of the U.S. national team, and worth paying attention to. There are 19 teams, 16 in the U.S. and three in Canada. Below MLS, there’s an assortment of minor league soccer, including the North American Soccer League and USL Pro. Between the three leagues, there is probably a team near you. Continue reading
What can you say about a game like that? You could say that Germany beat Brazil 7-1, but can numbers possibly tell the story? Brazil capitulated, at the sport they love, on the world’s stage, in front of their own fans. To describe it as shocking would be a criminal understatement. I was reminded of the devastation felt when Liverpool gave up a 3-0 lead at Crystal Palace. But yesterday was on a wholly different magnitude. There is no adequate comparison.
The World Cup is coming to a close, and for some less creative souls, so is soccer in the U.S. Of course, this isn’t true. The game thrives on a year-round basis in this country, you just have to know where to look. There are bars in every major city where you can walk in on a Saturday morning in the fall and find crowds gathered for the Premier League. But these are small signs, crumbs in the American soccer landscape. You want soccer in this country? Why not look at the stadiums that are packing in 19,000 fans every week for Major League Soccer? It’s time to stop passing over the obvious. No, the soccer on display is not of the highest quality. But allow me to evangelize, and convince you to start following MLS.
21.6 million Americans watched the USMNT’s round of 16 loss to Belgium on Tuesday. That’s a lot of people, and it marks only the second most-watched match of this very World Cup. But there is the assumption, mostly correct, that when this World Cup ends, so will audiences of that size. Buoyed by a quartet of games featuring the U.S. ESPN and ABC have averaged 4.1 million viewers through the first 56 games of this World Cup. Not only is that larger than the 2010 World Cup, it’s three times larger than NBC’s largest Premier League audience, twice as large as the Champions League final. Even before getting into the Spanish-language numbers, the World Cup dwarfs all other soccer in this country.
It’s time for that to change.