Over at Strategy or Soccer, Yan feels that yesterday was a disaster because new fans who saw the match would be turned off to soccer as a whole. I’m not sure I agree with that – I think it helped … a lot. Yan notes:
[…] with many inexperienced American fans who may have been watching a weekend afternoon World Cup game on a network – well, that could be their first and last game. There were too many aspects of the game that would not appeal or even outrage 1st time soccer viewers and reinforce their prejudice towards the game.
Overall, this was a disaster for ABC in its quest to attract a new audience. Any 1st time viewer of the game would be turned off by the yesterday’s match
I’m not sure I agree with that at all. Americans are used to fouls – most of our sports are riddled with them during contests. In American football or basketball, they makeup a substantial part of the contest and in basketball are used as strategy in the closing seconds. Only true soccer fans knew this was an abnormal match in terms of fouls and cards.
I believe that McBride walking off bloodied after the elbow did more to attract people to soccer in the US than anything up till now. This isn’t a sissy sport – it’s rough and tumble with minimal protection. Too many Americans discount soccer as a non contact sport where nobody touches each other. McBride’s blood bath aside, even the slow motion replays of vicious tackles at the ankle make viewers cringe, and we Americans LOVE that stuff.
Consider this – if two baseball outfielders collide chasing a fly ball, guess what highlight leads that night. In soccer, players are cracking heads every match going up for the ball and sometimes swinging an elbow or two.
Add to that, the match was thrilling and exciting, even if it was because of the 10v9. I know in the pub where we watched the match, everyone was on the edge of their seat for the entire 90 minutes. I can assure you when Beasley found the back of the net at 65′, every US fan watching that match went crazy. Were many confused as to why it was called back? Sure. But for once, the TV commentators explained why and the replay clearly showed McBride offside, lifting his foot up to let the shot go by. He screened the goalie, no question. Offside confuses everyone, but that’s part of the mystique of soccer and Americans love to question the officiating of sporting events. Needless to say, soccer gives them PLENTY of opportunity to do that.
Was it an ideal match – no. But I think new fans who saw yesterday’s match would come back because what they saw was NOT what they expected. It was an exciting match with very intense play. The action was non stop and the saves and shots where breath taking. It’s not the boring sissy sport they’ve been conditioned to expect by our media.
I think this was a coup for US Soccer and any fans sitting on the fence yesterday will be back for more. We should welcome them with open arms.