116street Soccer

Footballing from a lesser authority...

Location: New York, New York

Monday, December 18, 2006

Malicious Matchups

Seems as though our guest bloggers have the state of the U.S. game on their minds. Today we have Joe Sweigart, who seems to want the USMNT to go up against... the Axis of Evil? I'll let him explain further...

What’s more exciting to an American sports fan than The Grudge Game? Redskins vs. Cowboys. Yankees vs. Red Sox. Islanders vs. Rangers. Who can forget the days of Dr J’s Sixers taking on Larry Bird’s Celtics? You find yourself drawn to the contest. The drama of the contest draws you deeper into the sport. You find yourself talking about it. Looking forward to the next Grudge Game. Checking the papers, researching statistics on the Internet, watching SportsCenter for highlights, team news and gossip. And that, simply put, is what is missing from U.S. football.
Other than Mexico, the USMNT rarely plays meaningful games against quality opponents. Even for the rabid football fan it’s tough to get excited about watching USA vs. Jamaica (again). You can sell it (I paid $20 to watch England vs. Macedonia from the comfort of my sofa), but only if there is the promise of something better (like England vs. Croatia) coming soon. The matches against Mexico are always highly charged affairs that even the novice can appreciate. We’ve all seen it happen; our regular footie bar is invaded by people we’ve never seen before, and they lose their minds screaming “USA! USA!” when we score. They sense the animosity on the
field. They sense the passion in the crowd. They get caught up in the moment at the bar. Naturally, the next game the USA plays is against Canada (Yawn). There is no momentum, people lose interest, the fan base doesn’t grow.
If the big brains in charge of the U.S. program are serious about building the sport, give the public something to get excited about and a reason to follow it. How about a whole grudge series? USA vs Mexico followed by USA vs. Russia, Iran, North Korea. How about giving everyone in the world with a chip on their shoulders about America a chance to take a shot at us on the pitch? And how about this for a dream; schedule a double header on ABC – USA vs. Russia, followed by an international “friendly” between England and Argentina. Promote the hell out of it and show the American public what football – proper football – is all about. And for the love of all that is holy and true, hire Andy Gray and Martin Tyler to do the commentary.


Anonymous McCrum said...

What America needs is to put someone like Cobi Jones out there to get hit by any opponent enough to make them bleed. McBride did it in Columbus, that's where a lot of it began. I pick Jones because watching him being beaten up by Canadians would make me tune in and Tivo the hell out of it.

11:27 PM  

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