Soccer fans might be the minority on campus.
Despite all of the game’s fans, Americans still see it as a boring thing that Europeans do because they don’t want to put helmets on and hit each other. So maybe Europeans are a little off base when it comes to football, but there is no reason for the anti-soccer sentiment.
A few days ago I was sitting on my couch watching the good ol’ boys from the USA take on Mexico in soccer. Some of my soccer-apathetic roommates and friends walked in and wanted to watch Shark Week, but I was having none of it.
I had heard it all before. “They run around for hours and the score is still 0-0.”
So maybe the scoring isn’t quite as frequent as other sports. But when that ball hits the back of the net, it means so much more. The look on the face of a soccer fan that just saw his team score a go-ahead goal is a look of pure joy. The passion that surrounds the sport is a big part of what keeps people coming back to watch.
And then it happened. FC Dallas star Brek Shea drove the ball into the box and crossed it in front of the net. Terrence Boyd knocked it towards the goal with the back of his foot, and Michael Orozco Fiscal touched it over the line.
The soccer haters and lovers at my house jumped up screaming in excitement, spilling their probably non-alcoholic beverages in the process. But that didn’t matter. America scored. We were beating Mexico.
In the final minutes of the match, we were all nervous. Mexican heartthrob Chicharito put multiple shots on frame, but American goalie Tim Howard was a brick wall.
The final whistle sounded, and the result was official. Team USA had beaten Mexico at Estadio Azteca for the first time ever. We had been trying for 75 years to beat them in their house. In 24 matches, the best that we could manage was draw in 1997. We had been outscored at Azteca 81-14, but on August 15, we finally did it.
One of the most comforting facts about the match was that many American stars didn’t play. Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann was using this game as a way for his younger players to gain experience. Mission accomplished, coach.
Call it what you want, but seeing the disappointment in Chicharito’s eyes after the loss was priceless. Maybe I do take pleasure in his pain, but he can rest easy knowing that he makes over $110,000 per week playing for Manchester United, so I think we’re even.
So what does this all mean? For one thing, soccer is now officially cool. Tell your friends. It is now socially acceptable to enjoy a soccer match. Maybe the USA is ranked 36 in the world, but it is rare for a team to succeed immediately after a coaching change. Once the Americans become set in Klinsmann’s style of play, world cup qualification will look like a stepping-stone and less like a hurdle. Missing the Olympics was a reality check, and the USA seems to be back in form. Now is a great time to hop aboard the bandwagon because American soccer is gaining strength.
Greg Devries is a Junior journalism major from Houston and is a sports writer for the Baylor Lariat