Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Soccer: America's Favorite Sport (on June 23, 2010)

By Kelson Fagan

I am a fake soccer fan. I admit this at least, but I am a fake soccer fan. My soccer memories are few and far between and they go like this:

1) Sports Illustrated for Kids Cover 1994 - Alexlei Lalas and Coby Jones. - Who could’ve predicted that the red haired freak with the awful goatee (so awful that Captain Jack Sparrow would probably scalp him just for the chance to wear it. I probably smelled too. Let’s move on) and the guy with the dreads would both still impact my life heavily today! Oh what’s that? Soccer only catches on 1 out of every 48 months? And Coby Jones is dead (unconfirmed) and Alexei Lalas cut off all his hair? And can pass a drug test now?

2) The start of the MLS. I used to love almost any LA sports team when I was a child. So I tried to like the Galaxy. That didn’t work out. I couldn’t name one player that ever played for them until David Beckham graced us with his abs. So ...1 player in 15 years is...uhh..not the mark of a good fan to say the least. Let’s move on.

3) David Beckham moving to America, screwing his hot wife on the soccer field or “pitch” (look at me growing and typing all at once!) and capturing the casual fan for years to come on end. (Unfortunately, I stopped paying attention when I realized that his wife wouldn’t be naked at any point in time and that perfectly shaped grapefruits wouldn’t see the light of day.)

That is the extent of my soccer career (excluding a hat trick I scored when I played for the “green team” as a youth, but I’m not here to brag...much.) But every four years I strap on ole USA beer hat and cheer for the team because I like USA Pride. I remember 2006, and that we were in the World Cup, but I remember nothing, other than the fact that we didn’t make it to the second round. We lost, but I was not affected, like every other fairweather fan, I’m pretty sure I had recovered early enough that afternoon to enjoy All My Children in peace.

So it’s 2010 and I’m on the horse again, except this time something changed. I’m watching other countries play at 7:30 in the morning, I’m learning rules, I’m calling fields “pitch” and jerseys “kits” (which if someone could explain that to me, that’d be lovely). Hell, today I even taught someone what the rules of offsides were.

I even get defensive about the entire sport as a whole now. The other day I was reading a certain gossip blog (alright, you twisted my arm it’s Perez Hilton, and yes I read him on the reg,) and he commented and posited out loud wondering if “anyone even cared about this “World Cup” tournament.” I felt belligerent, I wanted to scream that “YES, I CARE (for at least 2 more weeks!),” I wanted to punch a gossip writer who obviously doesn’t have his finger on the pulse (but it would definitely be considered a hate crime).

I have made many declarations about soccer in the past. No one scores, it’s a whole lot of boring, offsides are stupid, the kids who played on the soccer team in high school were douche bags, the kids who played on the soccer team in college were douche bags and most of all the braggadocio of soccer players who claim they are the best athletes in the world because they run for 45 minutes straight (I’ve seen these games there is a whole lot of standing around. And flopping. My god do they know how to flop, with their perfectly chiseled jaw and their full heads of hair flailing around and.....uhhh, let’s regroup, I think I just stroked out and my fingers kept going.)

Once I started watching this summer, I have made many more declarations. I’m going to watch the Premiere League (which apparently showcases MUCH better play than the World Cup), I hate Vuvuzelas, offsides are stupid, the flopping (although Pau Gasol has now officially made basketball Soccer with hands) and of course, where is Mali, I’m going to burn that mother to the ground.

After today’s match (I did it again!) that the US pulled out against Algeria, I might be totally hooked (although to be fair, I was probably hooked when we (America) came back from 2-0 (which I feel like 49-0 in american football) or when Portugal destroyed North Korea 7-0). I’ve realized that even though there are still pretty much 78 minutes of boredom, the 12 minutes interspersed throughout are just phenomenal and breath taking. I could have never have thought I’d be yelling at my TV early in the morning as Mexico sealed France in it’s own white flag wrapped coffin in SOCCER (...wait, I almost stroked out again just typing that sentence, my body is still learning).

I was unhappy that I was scheduled to work during the match today, that I wouldnt get to see the result, but on the way home, we stopped at a pizza place, walked in and the ENTIRE restaurant was glued to the TV’s. I immediately looked up and saw (live) Landon Donovan kick the goalie’s original deflection into the net. I wasn’t sure what the appropriate level of celebration was for this event (I know that if it’s an own goal, we kill that player once he returns home). So I just clapped a little, and every body else clapped a little and then I got goosebumps and then I felt this overwhelming feeling of sports pride that I haven’t had since Carlos Beltran decided to look at strike 3 with the bases loaded in 2006’s NLCS (why is it frowned upon to kill baseball players after things like this?). I connected with 20 strangers about a sport that I knew nothing about in the middle of a state that cares nothing about soccer, this has to mean something. Something had to change inside uh-mere-e-cuh today.

Today, I now know at least seven players names FROM AROUND THE GLOBE (impressed?)

Today, was the day that it changes for everyone else (since, you know, they filled up my facebook news feed for literally an hour straight with chants of USA, videos of “America, Fuck Yeah” and of course, Hulk Hogan. (Then I remembered why everyone in the world hates us)).

Today was the day it all changes for me (meaning I’m gonna watch at least 2 more games this year!). I am a true (ish) fan.


  1. I find it interesting that you cite 2006, when the US had high expectations (compared to most years) and flopped. Whereas in 2002 we got to the quarterfinals for the first time in a long time, and caused mass suicides in Mexico. Well, maybe it wasn't that extreme, but it hurt their fans pretty bad.

  2. I told you, I can't remember 2002. Soccer didn't exist back then.

  3. Yes Americans are really big fan of Soccer even they play and watch two types of Football that thing is showing their interest in Football.

  4. My first soccer watching memory was the USA 3-2 victory over heavily favored Portugal in WC 2002. Seeing as the game took place at 5:30am our time, I woke up early, walked to a friend's house (Mike Z) to watch the match. We were sophmores in highschool and the bus didn't pick us up until 7:03am, so we had time to watch the whole match. Mike's mom bought donut holes and orange juice for us. USA had an early lead, and hung on barely. I've never been so excited or so awake in my life.

    So that's what I remember; donut holes, shock from defeating Portugal, and chanting USA walking down the street at 7am on Tuesday in June 2002.

  5. your "kit" is actually your shorts, shirt, and socks/etc. If someone tells you to get "kitted up", it means to get dressed for the game.

    ...the more you know