Thursday, June 22, 2006

So Much for That

No more World Cup for me.

I've decided three things about soccer: 1) I don't mind watching it, and could even grow to like the action, 2) I cannot stand watching fouls, and 3) I cannot stand the way the referees can take over a game.

Fouls and what comes with them are likely one of those "just part of the game" things to other countries who know a lot more about soccer than I ever will, but watching some of these players go down without getting hit, go down in apparent agony even though they have barely been hit, and writhe on the ground in pain whenever they hit the grass to waste time when their team has the lead is enough to make me retch.

One simple rule change. If injuries stopped the clock instead of the clock continuously running, most of that goes away. Sure, it slows the game down, but the rule to balance the injury time loss (referee's discretion on how much time to add) is worse. Stopping the clock will make the fakers get their asses off of the grass, and cease most of the dramatics -- although some will still remain as players try to turn regular fouls into yellow cards, and yellow cards into red cards.

The referees just seem to affect things too much. I've only watched about 3 1/2 soccer games total from this round of the World Cup, but I've already seen the referees directly affect four goals and alter three of those games all by themselves with questionable (or just plain incorrect) calls.

In games where sometimes no goals are even scored, that's ridiculous. That's too much influence.

Despite that, it's pretty obvious the U.S. team just wasn't good enough to advance. There was funky refereeing in the Italy game, but the U.S. still didn't really deserve to tie that game. There was funky refereeing in the Ghana game, but it didn't cost the U.S. a win -- the score should've been tied. Their record should have been 0-2-1, and even if they could have won the game today I couldn't see them doing anything but getting annihilated in the next round.

So, fire Bruce Arena or let him walk, I think the main problem is the lack of talent in the current crop of players. The MLS should help, but I don't know if we'll see the results of that anytime soon.

I think if we equate U.S. professional soccer to Japanese baseball of perhaps 10-15 years ago, we might be on the right track. I believe 8-12 more years of professional soccer in this country would do wonders for our World Cup aspirations.

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