Mr. Matt Matt. Read more about U.S. Soccer trying not to suck at suckyball.wordpress.com.
I’ll be the first to tell you that I haven’t been a supporter of U.S. soccer for a long time. If anything, without the pushing and prodding of my girlfriends family (who immigrated here over ten years ago) I couldn’t tell you if AC Milan and Everton played in different leagues or if Liverpool had red or blue uniforms. But after three months of watching Fox Soccer and growing to enjoy the game I can hold my own in conversation with other American soccer fans and share in their frustrations and opinions. But there’s a slight catch though ….
A lot of people in America are starting to catch on and chirp up near water coolers across America without the benefit of having family members who actually watch soccer more than three times a week. Somehow watching two games in the World Cup and then watching ten minutes of a Barcelona / Real Madrid game gives them deep insight into soccer happenings. These are the same people who are stat hounds for the other three major American sports (MLB, NBA and the NFL) so in their minds it makes perfect sense for them to latch onto soccer as it grows. The only problem is they don’t watch enough of it to know what they’re talking about.
And sometimes you have to befriend them and buddy it up in office to make your work life run smoother. Here are a few important tips to steer clear of any disagreements and push the conversation into one where the other party is convinced he’s making valid points while you keep up the appearance of being held in rapt attention.
DO: Go along with Messi being the world wide number one player and having no weak points or inadequacies in his game. He should be reffered to as ‘an assassin’ or things of that nature. He should always be thought of as a player that can score three goals in a game (every game) and leave the competition dizzy, sore and confused. While talking about him it’s important to feel empathy for any loser team that has to step on the field against him, because he is the European angel of death that can destroy teams left and right.
DON’T: Don’t be realistic and say that he should play better with his Argentine national team because new soccer fans might not know what country he’s from and half of them will think he’s Italian. They’ll be confused if you say his team choked against weaker countries because they might not want to watch something that’s not the World Cup. And if you bring up that he’s not the type of player who can dominate a game by himself without having to pass the ball all the time (like another Argentine did) you’ll be viewed as a hater. Above all please don’t mention Christiano Ronaldo because new American soccer fans won’t get the comparisons between the two and figure that since Messi is on Barcelona then he must be the better player, because Barcelona is the best team. Don’t even bother with bringing up the point that Barcelona is filled with elite World Cup champions and they are the best passers in the world, just stick with Messi being number one.
Remember, Messi is the sole reason Barcelona is unstoppable.
DO: When discussing David Beckham throw out the 250 million dollar number without abandon. New MLS fans won’t know if he scored a lot of goals or not, but they know that he made 250 million which is a crazy big number in sports. First let the other person say whether they like him or not and then agree immediately. This can go two ways: Either What a huge waste of 250 million! or 250 million might seem like a lot, but it’s a bold, visionary step in getting new American soccer fans.
DON’T: Don’t say that 250 million was an utter fabrication made up by Beckham’s management to drum up much needed American hype. Since nobody in America cares about million dollar contracts his agents threw in things like jersey sales and marketing income, and if you bring this up in your office then you’re the party pooper. And unless your new soccer friend is an MLS executive it’s best not to bring up the fact that the league treated Beckham like a traveling circus for a year and ran him into the turf with insane travel schedules that would make the band Phish give a double take. It’s just better if everyone thinks he gets paid like Michael Jordan instead of treated like Michael Jackson.
Remember, 250 million for David Beckham?!!!
Do: Say that our American team was sooooo close to winning. This counts for World Cups, friendlies against Mexico and the odd appearance against Brazil or Italy. Play up the fact that the other countries were relentless and the U.S. fought the entire way and in two years we’ll finally have a great soccer team. Don’t underestimate the power of playing the ‘right around the corner’ angle. Success was just a goal or two away, so that means America will be one of the top five soccer countries soon enough right?
Don’t: Don’t bring up that the other countries were playing their bench against us, or that we’ve never won in Mexico City ever. Don’t talk about us having to rebuild because Dempsey and Donovan are aging and they were average European players in their time spent over there. Although you can talk about Chicharito, leave him out of discussions when he plays against the United States. Don’t talk about how many good soccer countries there are (Mexico, England, Spain, Italy, Brazil, Argentina, Portugal, Germany …. and the United States?)
Remember, in four or five years America will work it’s collective butt off to be a top 5 soccer country.
Do: Talk about Manchester United scoring dozens of goals and being a super club.
Don’t: Don’t talk about any of their players besides Rooney and Chicharito. If you bring up ‘that Korean guy’ or ‘that guy with the dreadlocks’ you’ll be pushing it.
Do: Talk about European leagues having relegation.
Don’t: Don’t bring up relegation around MLS conversations (if you ever hear them anyway). If you make a new fan imagine the Red Bulls getting relegated their mind not be able to process it.
Do: Talk about flopping.
Don’t: Don’t talk about Italian players shoving referees and then getting on their knees and almost crying. If you bring this up then it might insinuate that American players aren’t passionate or crazy enough to make the game more interesting over here.
Do: Talk about Brazil hosting the World Cup and how enlightening it would be to visit.
Don’t: Don’t bring up Neymar or Ronaldhino, despite them being living representatives of Brazilian soccer. Bringing up Pele or Ronaldo would be acceptable, but only if there is no mention of their teammates.
Well, I hope this helps anyone who has to drag along a new soccer friend to competency (especially if it’s your boss or an important family member).