How New Soccer Fans Can Continue Their Passion For the Sport

After a month of World Cup action, facing this week’s matchless void was like stumbling out of a bar and into the blinding sunlight. And if the USMNT’s addictive run was your first taste of the sport then you may be feeling like Lindsay Lohan sitting poolside at the Château Marmont right now – despondent and wondering “what now?”

Thankfully, there’s never been a better time to be a soccer fan. Here are six ways how you can keep that World Cup high going:

1. Watch Major League Soccer:

Is the quality of play anywhere near that of the top European leagues? Absolutely not. But that excuse doesn’t cut it. After all, college football is our second-most watched sport and March Madness is one of our biggest sporting events. Finding the next USMNT star is easy thanks to extensive coverage on ESPN, NBC, and MLS Live. With 19 teams mostly playing in beautifully intimate soccer specific stadiums, you’re probably not far from being able to experience soccer up close and in person. Like baseball, you’ll enjoy the sublime thrill of drinking beer and eating a hot dog outside on a sultry summer night, but unlike baseball you’ll be watching an exciting sport in a loud atmosphere that won’t take four hours to finish.

To learn more about MLS, check out World Soccer Talk’s primer.


2. Watch European Soccer:

England’s Premier League is the de facto choice for American fans if only because of our shared language. And compared to our cross-pond brethren, we’re spoiled as every single match is available through NBC’s Live Extra app. WatchEspn offers Holland’s Eredivisie, the incubator of near-world conquering Dutch talent and Portugal’s Primeira Liga, whose clubs consistently appear in the latter stages of the Champions League and Europa League. beIn Sport offers a trifecta of top European leagues in Spain’s La Liga, home of the Latin world’s brightest stars, France’s Ligue 1, producer of some of the Premier League’s silkiest strikers in history from Eric Cantona to Thierry Henry and Didier Drogba, and Italy’s historically dominant Serie A. If you’d like to actually see actual Englishmen playing soccer, try beIN Sport’s Championship coverage. Germany’s Bundesliga offers the chance to see most of the world champions playing in fervent and festive fan atmospheres. But to catch the Teutonic tussles, you’ll need the increasingly hard-to-find Gol TV.

Many of Europe’s elite clubs will be playing all over America this summer, highlighted by Bayern Munich match against the MLS’ best in Portland on August 6.

World Soccer Talk has a full schedule of summer friendlies available here.


3. Read a Book:

Soccer is a fast-paced sport whose finest moments pass in a flash. The best soccer writing allow us to revel in glorious times gone by or wallow in the low ones while illuminating aspects of the game we never thought of. Arthur Hopcraft’s “The Football Man” collects his 1960s ruminations on the English game. Jonathan Wilson delivers an entertaining and edifying introduction to soccer tactics  in “Inverting the Pyramid.” “Soccernomics,” by Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski, challenges many popularly-held notions about the sport. Nick Hornby’s “Fever Pitch” eloquently expresses the irrationality of being a sports fan.

Here at World Soccer Talk you can find insightful book reviews, a gift-giving guide, and a selection of the best books available.


4. Watch a Movie:

There are enough soccer-themed classics in every genre to fill the shelves of a shuttered Blockbuster Video. “Mike Bassett: Football Manager” is a hilarious look at a gaffer’s life. Your soccer-hating significant other will warm to a young Colin Firth in the adaptation of Nick Hornby’s “Fever Pitch.” The acrobatic Stephen Chow delivers stupefying stunts in the family-friendly action movie “Shaolin Soccer.” “Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait” is an intense and intellectual film that pairs Mogwai’s moody music with footage of the legend from a random 2006 Real Madrid match. No list would be complete without the John Huston-helmed “Escape to Victory.” Comedy, drama, bromance, action, suspense, history, Michael Caine, Sly Stallone, Pele, and Bobby Moore, this one truly has it all.

Here’s a list of 20 crowd-pleasers to get your soccer film festival started.


5. Wear a Shirt:

The NHL has some of the finest-looking logos in sports, but wearing their bulky and heavy jerseys in public will make you look like Kevin Smith. Baseball jerseys are almost as bulky, which, conversely to the sport’s nature, makes them uncomfortable to wear in the summer. The NBA knows that you can’t wear one of its jerseys without awkwardly pairing it with an undershirt, which is why they pushed those unpopular sleeved jerseys on their players last season.  As for NFL jerseys, repeat after me, “I’m not a number…” Most soccer shirts are works of understated beauty by simply combining a T-shirt’s wearability with bright colors and your chosen badge of honor.

There’s no better place to begin your collection than at World Soccer Shop.


6. Play the Sport:

More and more kids are playing the beautiful game thanks to organizations like AYSO, but it’s just as important that adults get out there too. These days we’re more likely to bump into our friends in a Bed, Bath & Beyond parking lot or under enemy fire playing “Call of Duty.” Most sports are hard to play the older you get. Good luck finding a football league. Basketball is great until years of jumping up and down on concrete leaves you with a Deron Williams-esque vertical and a concussion from 19-year olds down at the park rejecting your lay-up off your forehead. Between paying for ice time and gear, you’ll need a second mortgage to play hockey. And softball is about as good a workout as sitting at your desk sweating out TPS reports.

Soccer is perfect for adults because you can get a decent game going with as little as four people and next to no equipment besides cleats and shirts for goalposts. All that running on grass provides a great workout without ravaging your joints. So get off your bumpy couch, America, and get onto a bumpy pitch.

22 thoughts on “How New Soccer Fans Can Continue Their Passion For the Sport”

  1. Hasn’t Gus Johnson done all these things? Yet he’s still an idiot when it comes to commentating it.
    Number 7…know what you are talking about if you choose to immerse yourself in the sport.

  2. Excuse my dumb question… I’m finally ready to get my first shirt and don’t know whether or not I should get a name/number on the back. Is that something adults do?

    1. RJ, it’s a good question. Adults definitely do it. All the time. So it’s completely up to you. No one is going to think any different of you if you do it.

    2. I’d say it’s ok to get a number, no to the name if you are over the age of 25.)
      As you get older, you should support the club regardless of who’s on the squad or where they are in the league. Besides, sans Ryan Giggs and Steven Gerrard etc, how many players do you trust to stay with the same club nowadays?

    3. I usually put my own name on it. I never wear another player’s name. Unless you’re a big fan of the specific player, I don’t see a reason to wear their jersey.

  3. “1. Watch Major League Soccer:”

    I’ve tried. Sorry, 90% of the time the games are poor. I tried very hard to watch the Portland-Seattle game this past weekend, could only hang in their for the 1st 45 min.

    First of all, games shouldn’t be played on artificial surfaces – NO, NOT, Nada, Nein!

    Second, the play continues to be chaotic, erratic and sloppy. I’m not expecting Top Class European League play but come on, it should at least be at the level of the J-League (it’s not).

    Announcers – some are even worse the Gus Johnson.

    Field size, quite are barely FIFA minimums.

    For me the worst part is the play and tactics. Just not enjoyable to watch.

  4. Finally!! Someone else who has seen Mike Bassett!! The funniest football movie ever… Series wasn’t bad either


  5. “1. Watch Major League Soccer:
    Is the quality of play anywhere near that of the top European leagues? Absolutely not. But that excuse doesn’t cut it.”

    But it does “cut it.” Why waste time on such a bad product, when you could be watching the good stuff on NBC, online, youtube, dvds. Seriously, subjecting yourself to being a fan of MLS makes absolutely no sense at all, unless you’re the kind of person who would rather watch little league baseball instead of MLB. Why waste the time?

    And if you are new to the game, why wouldn’t you watch the best? It makes absolutely no sense.

    1. Why?

      Because you can’t go to Europe every weekend to watch a game.

      The more people go to watch games, the more they’ll watch at home, the more ad money comes in, the better the product.

      It’s fun going to live games even if they aren’t top quality-yet.

      1. “The more people go to watch games, the more they’ll watch at home, the more ad money comes in, the better the product.”

        This sounds like a MLS advertising campaign, sponsored by Home Depot and Budweiser.

        But as a fan, instead of waiting for ad money to better the product, why not just watch the best there is to offer now, rather than waiting on something that may or may not happen? Are you saying that unless you guys keep shelling out cash to watch this inferior stuff, the league will get worse? It already blows. It’s been around for decades, and still stinks. You guys are willingly supporting a watered-down product. I just don’t get it.

        I understand that you might want to experience something in a live setting, but if you really love high-quality soccer, MLS is clearly not the answer.

    2. MLS games rarely conflict with European games. No reason one couldn’t start a Saturday or Sunday morning with a Prem match, then have a hearty breakfast, play some footy in the afternoon, then settle down for some beers and an MLS match in the evening.

      1. Most people would rather do something more productive with their lives than watch a bunch of MLS headless chickens running around.

  6. I’ve got to quibble about watching MLS first too. Going from the crowd noise and quality of play at the world cup to MLS is going to be pretty stark.

    There’s just something wrong with the broadcasts. The fan noise simply sounds wrong. I don’t know what it is. I always feel like I’m watching a college game. The audio environment is just off somehow.

    The one thing I would add to the list is going to see your local club. All of those first touches that look AWFUL on TV don’t seem so bad when you’re at the same itself. Live soccer is magic…..except for college soccer. That’s just weird with the backwards clock, no stoppage time….I mean they STOP when the horn goes off. Lots of subs…. weird. Go see your local USL/NASL/PDL team.

  7. I stopped by a local little league field a couple of months ago, it is now soccer field. To my happiness there were a bunch of older guys playing there. After watching for a few minutes they asked me to come and play-it’s been many years-but I accepted. I have now joined an over 40 league, here in Rhode Island. What a way to spend a Sunday morning and then going home to watch EPL.

  8. Reading books and blogs definitely helps. I was lucky enough to have friends who had watched English football for a long time so I would sit with them at the pub and ask them questions and listen to whatever they talked about.

    Learning about the league and the sport was and still is a great passion of mine. Welcome to all the new supporters.

  9. 7. Enjoy it – you don’t have to o all 1-6 if you can’t. It’s a sport, it’s a beautiful game. Don’t make it a “work”. Don’t waste time arguing with the haters why soccer is boring, why someone should enjoy soccer, etc etc. Don’t hate other teams’ fans: life’s too short for that. Soccer is too beautiful to be littered with hate.

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