Exciting and Unpredictable World Cup Going A Long Way to Silence Soccer Critics in US

The most vehement criticism of soccer from those who aren’t fans of the sport has always been “there’s not enough scoring!” Noted sports columnist and troll Dan Shaughnessy from the Boston Globe has been writing since 1990 that there is no “natural or organized progression to the goal in soccer. It’s 90 minutes of nonstop turnovers.”

I wonder what Shaughnessy and his ilk think now, after seeing more than 100 goals scored in the 36 games played so far in Brazil. That average of 3 goals per game is up from 2.3 in South Africa four years ago at this same time. Yellow cards, which often stem from “turnovers,” as Shaughnessy calls them, are down significantly from (as of press time) 3.8 to 2.7, and teams are completing an average of 387 passes per game, instead of 353 as they did in 2010. While I grant you that the merits and value of passing figures is a hot topic amongst those who analyze statistics, it must be said that teams are managing to keep the ball more, and in much more difficult conditions than in South Africa.

As of press time, we’ve seen 11 of those 94 goals (11.7%) scored in the last ten minutes of a game to either tie the game, put one team ahead by a goal, or put one team ahead by two goals to seal the match. Three of those occurrences, in fact, happened yesterday, with Divock Origi winning the game for Belgium against Russia in the 88th minute, and Clint Dempsey seemingly lifting the US to victory with his chest nine minutes from time against Portugal, only to see Cristiano Ronaldo’s jaw-dropping cross headed in by Silvestre Varela to equalize with the latest goal ever scored in normal time in World Cup history. They’ve been playing these things since 1930. Fourteen players have all scored two goals or more at this tournament, including five players with three tallies each.

The unpredictability of each game makes those ninety minutes must-see television.

The traditional big boys, like Spain and England, who will also be leaving the tournament early after losing their first two group matches, seem to have made way for some new faces. Colombia, missing their best player and goalscorer due to injury, who haven’t even qualified for a World Cup since 1998, are in pole position to win their group and are candidates to make a deep run on Brazilian soil. Costa Rica, whose last World Cup appearance in 2006 ended with three defeats in three games with nine goals conceded, will likely win their group and perhaps seal England’s embarrassment. Nigeria hasn’t advanced to the knockout round since 1998 and hadn’t won any of their previous six World Cup games, and they are likely to move on. Fellow African nation Algeria hadn’t won a World Cup game since 1982, and played perhaps the most attractive game of the tournament yesterday in beating South Korea 4-2 and moving a step closer to the knockout rounds.

This World Cup has been a dream so far. Millions of people around the country are doing the same thing as me, watching games at their desks during work, and then hurrying home to catch the rest of the late kickoff. The excitement and fervor generated by the United States team is probably a major contributing factor in this; as long as they stay in the tournament, you can count on record viewing numbers. With that said, though, even when the US get knocked out, soccer (much to Shaughnessy’s chagrin) has reached the masses in this country. The sport is here, and it will only keep growing.

17 thoughts on “Exciting and Unpredictable World Cup Going A Long Way to Silence Soccer Critics in US”

  1. Shaughnessy and his ilk are part of the old guard of sports’ writers. They are no longer as popular or relevant in this digital age where people get their news via the internet and have access to international news and writers.

  2. I used to care what people like Shaughnessy used to think, say and write about soccer. Like we had to convince people.

    I haven’t cared about them for years now. If you’re too soulless to appreciate the art/sport/spectacle/culture of football, then I can only feel sorry for you.

    Like Martin J. says above, soccer haters/misunderstanders are part of a dinosaur culture who would rather spend their time right now talking about the NBA draft or NFL training camp injury reports than sit back and marvel at the wonder and pure joy of the Beautiful Game.

    1. Could not agree more with your words of wisdom. It is their loss. You can add Ryan, Lupica,and any other old white sports reporter stuck in the 90’s. words to live by Quality Over Quantity. :)

      Will be very interesting how espn will treat soccer since they lost the upcoming World Cups. If it is not on ABC or espn they treat it like garbage.

      1. I’ll be watching Univision, not FOX. And I don’t speak Spanish, I just despise FOX and everything they do.

        1. This will be Univision’s last World Cup for a number of years, too. Telemundo will have 2018 onwards.

  3. This World Cup is the best for me since ’86 and it introduced me to…




  4. I’ll be hoping for an italian win, be great to see Suarez have to scuttle off and take his “Engalnd doesn’t respect me” rant to the next level as he tries to force his way out of liverpool.

    he won the Sports writers player of the year and the players player of the year ffs what is he prattling on about.

    anyways…Forza Italia

  5. The people like Shaughnessy are becoming smaller and smaller every world cup or actually every year as the game continues to grow but no matter what Shaughnessy and his type will never give up on their hate of the beautiful game.

  6. The old guard would criticise soccer out of patriotism rather than fact. Soccer in the past was viewed as that sport foreign people were better than the USA at so the old guard job was to demean the game as much as possible.

    I never got why the old guard would always claim the sport was boring especially in comparison to American sports that had more stoppages, less continuous action and less repetitive actions. This is why the world rejects the big four Americans sports as international interest has declined. Basketball is the on international sport and that is just because of Michael Jordan. The sport is nowhere as popular now as it was then.

    Once people understand soccer that is when people see the beauty of the game and voices like Shaughnessy become irrelevant than they already are. In Japan Baseball used to be the most popular sport, then the Japanese began to understand soccer and soccer took over as the most popular sport

  7. I agree that it’s been a splendid world cup so far. I just wish “we” didn’t have to sound like we need/want/desire the approval or acceptance of “the mainstream”.

    It’s already mainstream enough that you have every world cup game on TV, access to every MLS game, access to every EPL game, all the worthwhile games from Spain, Italy, Germany and France. Lots of soccer from Latin America. Scottish soccer, English Championship soccer, wall-to-wall FA Cup coverage, Euros, Gold Cup, Copa America, Club World Cup…..

    OMG….we are mainstream enough. There’s probably more live soccer on my TV than any other sport. Just go enjoy your football and stop sounding insecure.

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