In the final minutes of Monday afternoon’s (Eastern time) soccer match between Ghana and the USA, reserve John Brooks put a header past the opposing keeper to give the Americans a 2-1 lead they would not relinquish. Brooks, 20, became the first substitute to score a goal in American World Cup history.
And around the country, people celebrated.
It’s well known that soccer isn’t the most popular sport this side of the Atlantic. It’s huge in Europe, and every other part of the world, for that matter, but the game just hasn’t caught on here. Which is a little puzzling to me.
I think the reason is because people’s expectation for sporting entertainment has been rewired by American football. The sport is so insanely popular in this country that people have become accustomed to big hits, fast-paced action and scoring plays that result in multiple points.
Soccer, while a much, much older game, is more subtle. The ball weaves around the field like a pinball machine, jumping from player to player, drifting downfield. Every touch of the ball is pre-meditated. Every player is a cog in a greater machine.
And while goals are few and far between — there’s no more exciting moment in sports. Watch a highlight reel of soccer goals, and it’ll be one of the most beautiful things you’ve ever seen. And yes, it’s beautiful. There’s no other way to describe it. Soccer goals rarely happen by accident.
But anyway, watch it for yourself. If you saw today’s thrilling game, and still remain disinterested, then it’s just not for you. And that’s fine.
If you didn’t know the game was on, then you were probably caught by surprise by all the pro-American Facebook statuses around 8 p.m. Monday evening, as people expressed their satisfaction with the victory.
I don’t like being “that guy” who calls out people for only liking soccer because it’s the popular thing to do right now, or for only watching the sport for a few weeks every four years, because when it comes down to it — for once — we’re all supporting the country we live in.
People throw around words like ‘nationalism’ and ‘patriotism’ around this time, but I’m just happy that people are agreeing on something. It seems like we as humans have become so prone to being combatant and argumentative with one another, that’s it’s refreshing to see everybody unite around one idea.
And in this case, that idea is supporting our country’s national football team. Yes, soccer is the real football. Sorry, Peyton Manning.
Unfortunately, because soccer is not as entrenched in American culture as it is in most countries, our talent level typically reflects that, and the USA usually stands little chance of succeeding in the World Cup. But that doesn’t mean we can’t all hope for the best … who doesn’t support a good underdog story?
So whether you’re a true soccer fan, a faux fan, or someone who spend more time posting on Facebook about the game than watching it, we’re all on the same side.
Until the World Cup ends.
Then we all suck again.