U.S. Soccer: Top 6 Misconceptions About the Game from Soccer Critics

Ned HarwoodContributor IIIJuly 31, 2011

U.S. Soccer: Top 6 Misconceptions About the Game from Soccer Critics

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    One of the most frustrating daily occurrences for soccer fans in the U.S. is having to deal with the infamous "Soccer Haters."

    You know who they are. They come in many shapes and sizes, usually wearing the same shirt from yesterday and a flat brim hat on their head.

    They often take shots at the game, aimlessly poking fun at the same weaknesses their own favorite sport likely contains. They are the few still left in this country who have the antidote for soccer fever and are incapable of even watching the beautiful game for merely five minutes.

    When we watch the World Cup Final, they act like they have something better to do, always complaining about inferiority.

    So have a laugh with me, and enjoy reading the marvelous misconceptions by our country’s own.

    I will point out the most common phrases by these "Soccer Haters" and explain why some of them need to hit the research books before they start talking trash. Enjoy!

"Soccer Games Are so Long and Boring..."

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    This is probably the most common complaint by one of their kind. They remark, "How could you possibly watch a sport for two hours when there are only a few highlights?"

    As a soccer writer in a baseball family, it is not uncommon for me to hear this ignorant question a few times a week. I often kindly point out the fact that they have just as much of a chance to see a 4-0 snoozer as I do a nil-nil draw. And with no commercials and an extra hour of my life still left, I would take the soccer game any day of the week. 

    As for the tedious aspect to their complaint, clearly a single scoreless draw in the past has permanently plagued the haters’ soccer-viewing abilities.

    I agree, watching a NASL matchup would likely cause your body to desire a nap, but most top-level soccer games are actually thrilling for the full 90 minutes. The fact that a game-changing, season-changing or career-changing goal could happen at any minute keeps me on the edge of my seat for almost any game I watch.

    Also, the fact that there are fewer goals makes fans appreciate the highlights more, as other goals are often few and far between. I would much rather see three significant goals in 90 minutes than 100 consistent buckets in a basketball game. 

    With the majority of soccer matches being action-packed and the length of the game always shorter than two hours, the credibility of this quote really starts to come into question. 

"There Are No Soccer Fans in the U.S."

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    It is a complaint that really should never have survived the turn of the millennium.

    After seeing the millions of people who watched, tweeted and cried over the 2011 Women’s World Cup Final, it is a wonder why these Americans still think soccer is a sport without support. The Women’s World Cup final was the second-most watched daytime sporting event in U.S. history. If that doesn’t show there are Americans who support soccer, I don't know what will. 

    The MLS has also been increasing in support over the last couple of years and nearly surpassed the NHL and NBA in average attendance in 2010.

    Here were the numbers at the end of 2010:

    • MLS: 16,675/game (2010 season)
    • NHL: 16,985/game (2009-2010 season)
    • NBA: 17,149/game (2009-2010 season)

    MLS attendance is still contending for the No. 3 spot in American attendance rankings (behind football and baseball) despite having two teams (San Jose and Kansas City) without 11,000-plus stadiums in the figures above.

    Not too shabby from the sport that apparently isn’t supported. 

"The MLS Is an Awful League..."

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    This misconception is shared by soccer haters as well as a few hardcore fans in this country. Of course, with the MLS being merely 15 years old and located on the wrong side of the Atlantic, nobody expects it to be contending with the Premier League in prestige.

    However, by no means is the MLS a joke league for washed-up stars. Sir Alex Ferguson stated in an interview last week that the progress the MLS has made over the last couple of years has been impressive, and U.S. Soccer has "unbelievable possibilities."

    The World Football Challenge's poor results for MLS caused a lot of people to question the credibility of the young league. However, those who watched the games know that the scoreline doesn’t exactly equal the competitiveness of the matches. It wasn’t until the second half of the competitions, when MLS clubs put their subs in, that the games got out of hand. For the most part, the competing first 11’s entertained and battled well with their time on the pitch. 

    As for the MLS All-Star game, if anyone really expected 11 non-Manchester United-caliber players (who never played with each other before) to beat 11 Manchester United-caliber players at the game, they were drinking the wrong Kool-Aid.

"All U.S. Soccer Players Do Is Dive and Complain..."

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    YouTube videos might be the cause of this misconception that U.S. Soccer players are dependable divers.

    Having watched the U.S. play against teams like Argentina and Spain, the Stars and Stripes are saints on the field in comparison. Rarely do USMNT players hit the deck easily or complain about calls like other teams across the Atlantic.

    If I may, I would like to demonstrate the common process behind this misconception:

    "Cristiano Ronaldo Dives…Therefore all soccer players dive…Therefore U.S. players dive…Therefore I refuse to watch U.S. Soccer."

    It is a simple process that sadly arrives at an incorrect conclusion. 

"All Other Teams in the CONCACAF Region Are Garbage..."

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    Although most soccer haters probably couldn't tell you the difference between CONCACAF and a yellow card, this quote above is often uttered after the USMNT produces a poor result against one of the inferior teams in the region.

    The USMNT’s domination of the CONCACAF region for the last decade has been a blessing and a curse. The team’s almost constant success results in enormous amounts of pressure whenever an inferior opponent steps on the same field.

    Although the U.S. is always expected to win, upsets can happen for underdog squads like Panama or Jamaica. Just because Mexico and the U.S. have controlled CONCACAF since the beginning of time doesn’t mean the remaining teams in the region are rubbish. Since these smaller teams receive little or no respect, a media massacre is bound to occur whenever they pull off a big upset.

    I am not saying Costa Rica could be your next World Cup champion; just that they are a little more than men with boots on their feet. 

"The USMNT Will Never Compete for a World Cup..."

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    The general consensus of soccer haters in this country is that the USMNT will never be able to compete with the prestigious European/South American powerhouses for the world’s crown. Although the U.S. is currently a few paces behind some of the best in the world, the country is simply too big and athletic to never be a legitimate contender.

    Youth soccer participation continues to go up throughout the country, likely giving the USSF more stars in their player pool as the next generation rises. With football also being deemed controversial by many parents due to safety concerns, the odds are more and more kids will be forced to play soccer instead of hitting the gridiron. (In the majority of states, soccer and football are played in the same season in schools.)

    The U.S. might not be competing for global trophies in the near future, but someday the Stars and Stripes are bound to be on the big stage. 

"Well, What Do You Know?"

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    What other sayings do you hear from soccer haters about the beautiful game in the U.S.? Comment below with some other misconceptions.