THURSDAY UPDATE: With the U.S. in the second round against Ghana, and with a road to the semifinals that includes Uruguay and South Korea, the U.S. is the highest ranked of the four, giving them a very realistic shot at the semis…Below is a thread we posted before the World Cup started about the U.S. team’s zero chance, according to our soccer man Nick Green. He was wrong about one thing, Americans are watching, and Americans care. Ratings are good, what more could you ask.
Pre-World Cup prediction: We received a few emails and phone complaints over Nick Green’s soccer column in which he says the U.S. has no chance in the World Cup that starts on Friday and Saturday for the United States against England. He’s probably right, but the way he wrote it sure has irked soccer followers. Care to weigh in?
By Nick Green, Soccer Columnist
The United States will not win the World Cup that begins at 7 a.m. Friday in South Africa when Mexico takes on the host nation in the opening game. You know that, right … soccer fan or not? The experts, the pundits, the oddsmakers all say so. The likely champions of the month-long, 32-team, quadrennial tournament are Brazil or Italy or Spain or Germany or Argentina or even England. But not the United States. So why should you care? (To continue, click thread).
The nation doesn’t have the deep player pool, the top-notch league, the tradition.
The U.S. won’t, can’t and simply isn’t capable of lifting the trophy.
You know all that, right?
Lump them in with the minnows, the losers, the no-hopers.
Think New Zealand, North Korea, Algeria.
And the U.S.
Take your pick between weak regional qualifying rivals, inexperienced strikers and a sieve-like defense as the reason for the Americans’ soon-to-happen failure.
It’s OK, really, to think the worst of the Americans.
Everyone else does, including most Americans.
So why even bother attempting to watch?
Games generally are on at 4:30 a.m., 7:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. daily through June 21 (except for Friday, when they start at 7 and 11:30 a.m., which is the same kickoff times that prevail beginning June 22 as the tournament enters the latter stages).
Sleep off the celebration of a Lakers’ NBA Finals victory a little too long and you’ll miss most of the games anyway.
It’s not like there will be a gaping hole in water-cooler gossip if you skip the whole thing.
The true-blue Dodgers, as always, will be there throughout the summer and into the fall and almost into winter playing day after day after day after day.
This month-long, 64-game tournament is only a blip in comparison to the every-moment-counts 162-game season of a Major League Baseball team.
You won’t miss a thing.
Sure, the Brits will be packed into pubs watching England (fail, likely, just as it has every World Cup since 1966).
Mexicans will jam into taquerias to see El Tri.
Asian-Americans will watch the big screens on the streets of Koreatown or pack into Japanese pubs.
And with South Africa in virtually the same time zone as Germany four years ago, Southern Californians of virtually every race and nationality will revel in a second successive breakfast/brunch World Cup.
You, as an American, don’t want to experience that, do you?
And anyway, how American is it to watch a sport in which the U.S. has no chance of winning?
Oh sure, in 2002 only a blatant goal-line handball by a German defender in the quarterfinal prevented what would have been the equalizing goal off a shot by defender Gregg Berhalter from entering the net.
It’s not possible that if the now Galaxy defender had leveled the score against an organized, yet unadventurous opponent, an inspired and determined American team would have had a chance to make the tournament’s final four.
And even if they had gone through, it’s not like they would have had a chance of making the final, right? Oh, what’s that? They would have played co-hosts South Korea, another nation with no tangible soccer heritage, who similarly and narrowly lost, 1-0, to the Germans, who went on to lose to eventual champions Brazil in the final. Well, OK.
But look at 2006 in Germany.
Look what happened to a team many considered the best U.S. team ever. It was three and out. Gone. Bye-bye.
Sure, the Americans drew, 1-1, in the second group game against Italy behind a typically bloodied, but unbowed Brian McBride who led the team to a gritty and honorable tie. And the Americans had a goal disallowed for offside, too. That performance, that near victory, came against the eventual World Cup winners, you say? Oh.
Only seven nations have won the World Cup in 80 years. And besides, soccer is boring, there’s no drama and upsets (like goals themselves) are rare. Right?
So don’t worry about paying attention to the most anticipated game of the opening round, England-U.S. live at 11:30 a.m. Saturday on ABC. Remember, the U.S. won’t win.
So, now you can ignore the tournament, safe in the knowledge nothing earth-shattering will happen.
Remember, real football – the type played with the, um, hands – begins Aug. 8.