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Helpful Advice For New Soccer Fans Getting Into the Sport

Photo by daniel.antunes

First, a disclaimer: This guide is not intended to be the ultimate list for any new soccer fan (which is properly called ‘football’ everywhere else in the world). This is enough to get your toes wet and hope that anything else you need you will research on your own. Please note that your mileage may vary with your fandom and as with all things, your experience is what you make of it. These tips could also apply to any sport, but there may be a few that are specific to this one.

So, after sucking down years of the NFL, NHL, NBA or MLB, you want to try and give soccer a go?

Ask the average American fan about world soccer and our knowledge, if we are lucky, may begin and end with either Pele or most recently David Beckham or the USWNT. Well, here are a few tips from a new fan that may help along the way to help increase some of your knowledge. As for you veterans reading this, feel free to let me know what recommendations you have (in the comments section below).

Tip 1: Unlearn all that you have learned

Start off by reading up on the basics of the game including the rules and regulations and also learn the lingo such as: What the difference is between a penalty kick and a goal kick, what’s considered a tackle, when do red and yellow cards come into play and so on. In my opinion, the game itself is easy to learn because it’s very free flowing as opposed to American football with all the stopping and starting and the massive rules to understand in between.

Another thing to consider is that after learning some of the basics of the games, you need to be mindful that there is no draft in soccer. The teams outright pay a sum for players that they can afford. Think of it almost as when the NFL had no salary cap and teams won or lost based on their payroll; similar principal applies here. Some teams that can afford to buy players can do so and sometimes will buy players from other teams (rivals included) within their own leagues. This is something that doesn’t happen very often in American sports divisions or among rivals. Alex Rodriguez playing for the Red Sox? On a cold day in hell. Ray Lewis in Pittsburgh Black and Gold? That snowball in hell has a better chance. Kobe Bryant in Celtics Green? Red Aurbach would roll in his grave.

Something else that really keeps fierce competition going on is the idea of promotion and relegation. It’s a system that truly divides the best from the worst. In American sports, losers are rewarded by being first to pick the best talent in hopes of making their teams better. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t (Ryan Leaf and Peyton Manning in 1998 anyone?). Soccer doesn’t work that way. Because of the millions of dollars, pounds, euros, or whatever the local currency is on the line, what happens is teams who prove they can play with the best get to move up into better leagues whereas teams who played in the big leagues and have done poorly move down. The rewards of staying in the running is of course money from endorsements and other revenue, which allows you to buy better players which then may help your team get better.

Can you picture how this could work in American sports? How something like this could force teams like the Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Orioles, Washington Wizards, or Toronto Mapleleafs to step their game up or how this would push teams like the New England Patriots, Los Angeles Lakers, New York Yankees, or Detroit Red Wings to constantly push to stay at or near the top. It’s a very different system to get used to but the way it drives teams to stay in competition keeps perennial losers from reaping all of the rewards. If you want the money to thrive, you HAVE to win.

Tip 2: Watching the games; Picking and following teams

Of course, if you are going to be a fan, you have to watch some of the games to follow along. If you are in the US, the majority of the games are broadcast on Fox Soccer Channel. Although ESPN doesn’t carry as many matches as Fox does, there are still some good matches to watch. For the tech savvy readers, if you have smartphones, tablets and/or iPads, then I would highly suggest getting the WatchESPN app and as long as you are a cable subscriber (unless your cable company, like Comcast, doesn’t have a deal with ESPN), you can watch any ESPN event for free and that includes any of the live and replayed events they have loaded on their sites for that week. Fox Soccer also has an app out at the moment but in order to watch games there is a subscription fee you have to pay.

As far as what’s in print, I downloaded the Flipboard app on my iPad and the Pulse news app on both that and my iPhone. I have them both linked up and customized with various RSS feeds which helps keep me in the loop with news and updates going on in my favorite leagues and teams.

If you are a gamer, it also doesn’t hurt to pick up the FIFA games and giving it a go. It did help me some more understanding of the pacing of the games…what happens, what events trigger what and so on. Treat it like it’s a tutorial to help you at your own pace but still YOU MUST WATCH actual games and talk to others to know exactly what’s going on.

That last point is a big one. Talk to people who are already fans! This is not the time to be shy. If you have friends or co-workers who are deeply entrenched in this sport (as I am with the NFL) then take some time to talk and ask questions (what is offside, explain what different formations do, what are some of the teams’ playing styles, and how many points do you get for a win, loss or draw). And also, if possible, watch a few games with them. Some of them, like my two co-workers here, are glad to have someone to be able to talk to about the game and if they are good people, they are even happier at explaining the nuances of the game. Of course, if there are supporters in your area, check them out.

And duh! Go read and join in some soccer forums also!

As far as choosing your teams, that is something that is a choice that you have to make as a new fan. Some people will follow a local team which is good because you get to interact with fans in your area. Others will get behind a team that is popular or well known. There are still others that get behind the underdog.

I say the same thing with this sport as I do about American football in that there is no one way to know how to choose your teams that you want to follow, except don’t do it for just one player. You will be surprised how quickly some of these players who have exceptionally long careers can play for many teams. And just like American football, what if you get behind a team this year because of a player and then next year he is gone? Will you still follow the team? And please, please please…no bandwagon hopping! It’s at its worst here in the States after the NBA Finals or the Super Bowl. People who have never cheered for the Steelers, or the Packers or the Lakers or the Mavericks all of a sudden became new fans. Granted, winning teams brings out new fans but it’s the retention of those new fans that’s the problem. I have met more than my fair share of fans who when teams that won in a particular year do dismally the following years. they disown them. So this, like everything else, pick wisely. Do some research because you have many leagues and divisions to choose from, such as La Liga, Ligue 1, Serie A, the EPL and if you are an American, you also have MLS right here in your own back yard. Don’t forget your local teams and also it helps to follow your national team. Many of the players on the US national team are playing throughout the world in some of the best teams in the world.

A word on kits (jerseys was we call them here). Here in the States, many of us who are into sports at one time or another may have jerseys of various teams and players in our closet. It’s not common for one of our friends to sport a Kobe Bryant jersey today and have a LeBron James Cleveland Cavaliers (see what I did there?) on the following day. Myself, I have a few current players and a number of throwbacks. Since I am primarily a Baltimore Ravens fan, I have three Ray Lewis jerseys, an Ed Reed jersey and one of our first receivers from 1995, Michael Jackson (I can hear the jokes now). I also have a Jerry Rice 49ers jersey, Randy Moss Patriots jersey, a Reggie White Eagles jersey and so on.

One thing that I found out very quickly is that if you are planning on being a fan, and a serious fan at that, cherrypicking kits is usually not a wise idea. While there may be diehard fans in US sports, none can say that they are as diehard as some of the soccer fans that I have met and talked to. Many fans live and die by their teams. Many of them will stop you on the street and dish out a comment, or just drop something derogatory into your lap.

And what if you are wearing the wrong kit? Well, be prepared. This is a sport where wars have started and ended because of games. People have killed and been killed over games. This is a sport where fans have gotten into bloody fistfights over their teams and choosing to have a kit in your wardrobe because it looked cool with a pair of Nike sneakers is certainly not a bright idea if you have no idea about the team you are wearing. Case in point, I saw a guy a few weeks ago with an Inter kit on. Looking at him, I could almost tell he had no clue what he had on and I nicely asked him where he got it from and he replied that “some girl hooked him up with it” at which point I asked if he followed the team to which he said he didn’t, but he watched car racing. Now just imagine if it was a dyed-in wool Inter fan or AC Milan fan! It could have escalated.

Bottom line is, don’t settle on merchandise until you find a team you will follow for a long period. For myself, I haven’t settled on too many players whose kits I will willingly wear as of yet, so keep this in mind when buying your team gear. Also please note, if you are like me and you are taller than average, or larger than average, be prepared to get some of your orders custom made or remember that a lot of what you may want may not be available in your sizes. Kits are not made like American football jerseys, which can be oversized. Kits generally are made to fit and if you find a few really nice ones, they can be wearable in your place of business.

Tip 3: I found a team. Now what?

As I stated before, watch the games, follow the news. Have fun and enjoy them. Once you are watching a game, be prepared in knowing that the clock never stops in soccer, so take a bathroom break and get your snacks before the game starts. Then relieve, refresh and refill (my 3 R’s) at the half. Why? Because you don’t want to miss that cool header that slid by the goalkeeper because you just HAD to have your Cheetos, especially if that was the only goal of the game.

Also remember that most live games are televised from 6 to 10 hours ahead of our schedule so sometimes you may find yourself doing a lot of DVRing of some matches. And don’t spoil it for yourself or other fans if they haven’t watched yet be peeking at the scores because it really ruins the watching of the game even if it’s recorded. Also, if you like ‘quick games’ it’s good to know that on average, a game can be done in under two hours. Games rarely ever drag on because as I stated before, there is no clock stoppage and if the game is extended it’s due to either extra time or penalty kicks.

One of the coolest aspects in this sport is that there is ALWAYS something going on. There is a cup contested here, a qualifying match there, and a tournament elsewhere. This is something you don’t see enough of in American sports. Most American sports teams play for one championship occurring at the end of the season. Soccer is similar but there always seem to be other trophies that can be won during the course of the season. And of course there is the World Cup which occurs every four years and is played on an international stage. In a sense, this is the ultimate All Star game. Don’t forget to use your friends as a resource to ask about how tournaments are set up, what the difference is between knock out play and round robin, what point modifiers are used to determine the winner and so on. If you like to see different types of contests and trophies won in the course of a year, this is the sport for you.

Then there is the all important part. GO TO GAMES. Go as often as your pockets will allow. If you follow a MLS team, it’s not expensive at all and you should get in a good game for less than $100. It’s considerably cheaper than any American football game I have been to. If you get really lucky and a national or international tournament or team is coming your way, it doesn’t hurt to invest a little more to go.

Just recently, some of you may have read my article about going to the Gold Cup semifinals, international friendlies between Everton v DC United and the Manchester United v Barcelona friendlies. As a new fan, what makes these games worth seeing is that the Gold Cup is played once every two years and I got lucky that the US qualified for that match. And Everton, Barcelona, and Manchester United — all of which are huge teams in Europe — made appearances here stateside and no one knows definitively when they will return. So it was a wonderful once in a lifetime experience to see teams that many of us will only get to see on TV play live. However, if you are truly a huge fan and your pockets run deep, make a trip overseas and go to a game there.

This game is a great game to get into if you are a new fan. It’s played all over the world in every country available so there is no shortage of choices to make with who you choose to follow. As stated from the very beginning, it’s a sport where your mileage as a fan will vary and it’s up to you to figure out your dedication. All I can say is, don’t be afraid to jump in, the water here is fine. Take some time and you too can get into deep discussions as to why some think that Lionel Messi is over or under rated, if Evra is better than Abidal, how did Diego Maradona put Argentina on the map or if Roberto Baggio is the best Italian player ever.

Thanks for reading. And with that, any grizzled old timers who would like to share some advice can do so in the comments section below.

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  1. Chaka Labradores

    August 22, 2011 at 9:58 pm

    Every time in the Football Match (soccer game), we should play all along between the players and the clubs respectively. And I’m go to the stadium and watch the beautiful game is very important of football.

  2. lol

    August 7, 2011 at 10:24 am

    POSER’S guiding to posing, brought to you by the #1 poser soccer site on the internet

    shame you have decent “EPL on TV in the US” articles or else i wouldnt visit 🙁

  3. thorpyness

    August 7, 2011 at 6:51 am

    Arsenic. To say people can’t exercise free choice, and for you to try and dictate which teams are OK for them to support is not right, it goes against any principle of free choice, which exists both sides of the Atlantic.
    Now I’ve told you that it”s wrong, I have to say I agree with you 100%. It winds me up as well. Glory hunting just leaves a taste that isn’t right in the mouths of those that support their local team, even though it’s their right to do so.
    Support of a team does come through the generations, and as a younger club, Wigan suffer from people having been taken as kids to Liverpool/Everton and the Manchester teams, purely because Wigan were small back then, and we struggle to convert these people to their local team. The pricing structures are starting to help us though, with some teams charging ridiculous prices on the gate.

  4. Arsenic

    August 7, 2011 at 3:47 am

    don’t become a glory hunter. Living in Houston, it irks me to see people wearing Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning jerseys, who play for Pittsburgh, New England, and Indianapolis, respectively. Most people outside of New England only became Patriots fans after they won 3 Superbowls in 4 years. It makes my blood boil when I see Kobe Los Angeles Lakers jerseys, Lebron James jerseys, when none of these players have ever played for a Houston team. Don’t bring that mentality to any sport, let alone soccer. Those kind of people are a disgrace to true sports fans. Lived in Houston for 13 years, so I’m going to support Houston teams even though none are successful or anywhere near successful now. I’ll get laughed at by people who support more successful teams but I’ll tell them there is nothing more satisfying than supporting your OWN team, not a team from New York, LA, Chicago, or Miami. lol.

    • Taylor

      August 7, 2011 at 9:27 pm

      I agree with “don’t become the glory hunter” but the problem is we won’t know whether these people are really glory hunters or they were just exposed to the team(s) they support because these teams were good and therefore got more TV exposure.

      Liverpool used to be big in Asia in 1980s because they got huge coverage in Asia then. Same thing with AC Milan in the late 80s: almost every week TV coverage shows AC Milan and Milan was the best team then playing beautiful football. So naturally a lot of people became Milan’s fan.

  5. Taimur

    August 7, 2011 at 3:38 am

    I think you can be a fan of one particular team and still follow top level football. For example, in the UK, people can watch their team play live in the ground in League 1 and come back home and watch a Premier League or a Champions League match. You cannot stop others or yourself from enjoying top quality football just because your team is not playing top quality football or got knocked out of a competition, such as Champions League. You can still be passionate about your team and at the same time, appreciate teams on the tele that may be better than or playing better than you at that time.

  6. MG

    August 7, 2011 at 2:30 am

    My helpful advice for a new soccer fan getting into the sport?

    DO become a fan of ONE team. I massively disagree with the utterly casual outlook that many people share in this thread. Of course, as a new fan, it’s going to be more or less casual, but choose ONE team (within a league), and follow THAT team. The sport becomes rewarding that way, when you’re invested in ONE team. And I don’t think anyone can deny that. That’s when you really get the beauty of the sport. If you want to just watch it casually, it’s up to you, but I’m completely against that idea. Honestly, want to get into a sport, pick a team and stick with them (after proper selection of course).. In the process, you’ll learn about other teams and your team’s history.

    • Taylor

      August 7, 2011 at 9:21 pm

      This could work now. But this didn’t work 15-25 years ago when there was no internet. It was and is still rewarding for me.

  7. grich

    August 5, 2011 at 11:05 pm

    To new fans of the game stateside its a little different. I am a Lions, Tigers, and Red Wings fan because I live in the area and have great memories as a kid going to various games with my dad or grandfather, game day traditions, neighborhood bars watching games etc. …..I have none of that with the EPL. Never been to a game. I am a chelsea fan because as a kid a coach once showed us a training video and there was a player from Chelsea in it….. I have no other reason to be a Chelsea fan but here I am. I like fulham because of Clint Dempsey. Liverpool because I want to see the new owners as americans make a contribution to the EPL. I am a fan of the game and the league as a whole. Most of us will not make a pilgrimage even though we’d love to. How about be a fan of the game. Youll eventually be drawn to one team or another for some reason. You can be a fan of Chelsea and Fulham. how realistic is the possibility of you sitting in “the wrong end during the match”.It takes effort to follow the game all season even with the coverage in fox and the increasing on ESPN. It takes effort because when you get into the car and turn on the radio to the local talk sports station they probably aren’t talking about the EPL. You’ll spend lots of time online at various websites, phone apps, games at odd hours and lots of games rebroadcast. Internet radio is a great way to bridge some of the gap for instance talk sport has a ton of programing especialy on match day. They also used to broadcast a bunch of games which sadly ended after the xm deal. All that said support whomever you want for what ever reason club level or national domestic league or foreign, love the game and the rest will fall into place.

  8. Tom

    August 5, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    I love this post. Great job writing it! You give some really good tips.

  9. Thorpyness

    August 5, 2011 at 8:01 am

    I stumbled across this site looking for games that will be televised when I’m in the states on holiday. Listened to 3 episodes of the podcast and Kartick has single handedly smashed the myth that americans don’t get football.
    I’d recommend Wigan Athletic…but then I have a season ticket. It’s our 7th year in the Premier League. We’re a small town club come good, so we certainly fit the underdog mould for those of you that like supporting the little man.
    We play the passing game on the ground, with technically skillful players and are hopefully up and coming team based on local spirit and good management rather than just having resources to throw at the team.

    Look out for me and a fellow Latic, who will be showing off the strip (kit/jersey) in Disney world at the back end of the month.

  10. tobaleistodo

    August 5, 2011 at 12:07 am

    group name tottenham fanatics

  11. Robert

    August 4, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    There is also some fun to be found in supporting not only an EPL side, but choosing a squad in the npower Championship or League 1. I’ve been an Arsenal supporter for about 5 years, and 2 seasons ago adopted QPR as my Championship team. And now, they’re both playing in the top tier!

  12. IanCransonsknees

    August 4, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    For those of you interested in the game in general have a look at the Homes of Football website. It’s a pictorial history of football that started around the Italia 90 world cup, some stunning photography and limited editions that are available at reasonable prices.

    For anyone that’s interested in what it’s been like to slum it for years in the lower leagues, then get catapulted into the top flight, managing to stay there beyond the initial six month burst, try Stephen Fosters books.

    Stephen was lauded on many messageboards over here after he passed away tragically recently, it was amazing to see how many fans from a vast number of clubs had picked up on his work. The anti-Nick Hornby for most, telling it how it really is. Well worth a try and more than reasonable. Thet trilogy works as ‘She Stood there Laughing’, ‘And she laughed no More’, and aptly I suppose, ‘The Final’.

    Give them a try.

    Harry Cee an excellent piece if a do say so, gives a real insight into the difference between American and European Fandom.

    Harry if you’re over here pop into Stoke for a trial. Tony Pulis would stick a fella as big as you in our back four before you could say ‘ go out there and stitch that gnome from Arsenal’.

  13. omakbob

    August 4, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    Don’t forget about the Guardian’s Football Weekly podcast, too (and, of course EPL Talk’s podcast). Both helped me greatly this past year.

  14. Tuttle

    August 4, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    I’ve been a fan for quite a while, but my wife has only recently gotten into soccer and there were two things that really helped her get up to speed;

    First of all, Match of the Day. Cogent, clearly articulated analysis that explains the basics and the complexities of the game quite well. It’s not available in the US, but there are ways.

    Secondly, Special 1 TV. It gave personality and character to the game. She can now mock SAF and The Voyeur with the best of them. Also turned her into an Inter fan, but not everything can be perfect.

    Speaking of “ways”, I find no need to shy away from teams due to TV appearances any more. I’ve seen more St Pauli games THIS season than I saw last season when they were in the top flight… and this season is only two games old for the 2nd Bundesliga!

  15. Ringo

    August 4, 2011 at 2:53 am

    I agree with the “follow the league and watch how teams play” method of choosing who to support. Learn more about the clubs and their histories, get to know what they’re all about before making your decision.

    And, if you end up choosing Spurs, feel free to follow my blog if it helps you stay in the loop (click my name).

  16. Evan

    August 4, 2011 at 1:03 am

    If you’re new to the support and want to decide on a team DON’T be a bandwagoner and just support the big clubs. (Man United, Barca, Real Madrid, Inter)
    Not only because it’s just a lame thing to do, but also because of the abuse you will get from every other fan of non-big clubs in the world

  17. Parker

    August 3, 2011 at 11:43 pm

    I think it is important for new American soccer fans to start their soccer journey with club soccer over the national team. Americans are used to supporting teams. Most have a NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, or even college teams they support. I try to get people to follow soccer and they always choose to watch the national team in the WC or whatever. Then they always come and say that they couldn’t get into it. That is because the US men’s team is hard to watch. If I wasn’t such a big soccer fan as well as a devoted American, I wouldn’t watch.

    • Taylor

      August 4, 2011 at 12:16 am

      Interesting perspective. I have a totally different experience: I really loved watching USMNT playing in the 90s under Bora and had trouble watching MLS.

      • Parker

        August 4, 2011 at 8:55 am

        I loved watching the USMNT in the 90s as well, but the current crop doesn’t play like that. There is no fluidity or consistency and it doesn’t always make for a good watch. I truly hope that Klinsmann can make the necessary improvements. I was not an MLS fan at first either. I started in the EPL and it was only in the last few years I have started watching MLS. I think MLS has improved a lot from where it started and the quality is much better.

  18. Harry

    August 3, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    Something else I just found that may be cool. There is a new app coming this weekend that will let fans interact with each other come game day:


  19. Taylor

    August 3, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    My 2 cents: if you’re a casual fan and don’t want to pick any team, it’s fine. You don’t have to support any particular team to be called a “fan”. There’s no rule that says you have to pick a team to be called a “fan” or “knowledgeable fan”.

    It’s OK too to like and support more than one team. Don’t worry to be called a bandwagon fan or “not a real fan” because at the end of the day, only you know whether you are a bandwagon fan or not or whether you are a true fan or not.

    my first exposure of English football was in 1987 watching Coventry City on TV. I always enjoy them playing but I fell in love with Man United in 1990 when watching the Battle of Old Trafford (the first Battle of Old Trafford).
    My first European Cup match I watched involved PSV Eindhoven in 1988 and that’s why I still support PSV. Do I care what people say ? No.

    My advice is do not make things too complicated. Enjoy the game: if you want to learn more about it, do it. If you feel attached to certain team(s), that’s OK, if not, that’s OK, but do not get pressured that you need to do a lot of things to enjoy soccer.

    Finally, don’t hate each other. The “hate” should stop after 90 minutes. I am a United fan, but when I visited Anfield, I said a prayer in front of Hillsborough tragedy memorial. During my trip to Europe, I was treated well in Amsterdam Arena (although I said I liked PSV Eindhoven), Emirates (although I explained that I am United fan) and in Anfield. I don’t want to go back to the dark times when hooliganism was the main topic of soccer.

  20. Jim K

    August 3, 2011 at 9:22 pm

    Great article. Wish I’d seen it a few years ago, but I’ve somehow stumbled to football junkie status on my own. It helped having a coworker who was born in Europe- I’ve picked his brain constantly the last few years, and now I frequently scoop him on transfer news. Waking up last week at 6 am to watch a SPL match not involving Rangers or Celtic made me realize that my interest has now surpassed NFL, MLB. Just a wonderful discovery for me later on in my life, and with so much history to try and catch up on, along with league, cup, international games, I’m hooked.
    One tip for newbies that I would add is to set up a news reader or just use ol facebook to aggregate your soccer/football news. That how I stumbled on this fine site. Sites like this keep you up to date, informed, and educated. Thank you.

  21. Dave C

    August 3, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    Tip 4. Buy a video game.
    If I can learn American Football better than many Americans simply due to a misspent youth in the company of a Sega and Madden ’94, then soccer should be easy enough for anyone to get educated in.

    • Harry

      August 3, 2011 at 8:45 pm

      Amen Dave!!! and I got ya in tip 2….hehehehehe!!!!

    • Jason Gatties

      August 3, 2011 at 9:00 pm

      While I’ve been a soccer fan for as long as I can remember, one of my new found loves is rugby. I’ve been following rugby since the 2003 Rugby World Cup. I fell in love with the sport but I can remember not understanding the rules until I rented EA Rugby (the first rugby game they put out, in 2001).

      Video games actually help out quite a bit.

    • omakbob

      August 4, 2011 at 1:19 pm

      Agree. I learned a lot about the basics of formations and players from playing Fifa on my Xbox.

    • Morgan Wick

      August 5, 2011 at 7:55 pm

      I learned the ins and outs of football offensive strategy playing Madden, learned how a basketball possession works in NBA LIVE, and fell in love with hockey playing the NHL games back when those games were an infinitely better, more exciting product than the actual NHL.

  22. Serpico127

    August 3, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    Great article! I have a weird approach as a semi-new fan. I follow Chelsea and Fulham. It’s sort of the best of both worlds. One, a proven champion and the other a rough and tumble underdog. After watching for a while you will notice a difference in style of play. I love that Fulham has an American connection with Dempsy and Lampard is to me a class act. All of that said I would watch 19 and 20 play each other every wknd. Soccer is amazing!!!!

    • Jason Gatties

      August 3, 2011 at 8:55 pm

      While I respect the fact that you love soccer and you’re obviously entitled to your opinion…but here’s my 2 cents…



    • Dash

      August 4, 2011 at 8:01 am

      If you ever go to Craven Cottage, home end, i suggest you don’t mention how you follow Chelsea as well. That would be the same as going to the Shed End and saying how much you love Tottenham. Up the Chels!

    • Jonathan

      August 4, 2011 at 9:54 am

      You follow Chelsea AND Fulham? Do you support Real Madrid and Barcelona, too? And, Borussia Dortmund and Schalke?

      You can’t support both! If you’re American, that’s like being a Ravens and Steelers fan. Or a Yankees and Red Sox fan. Pick one: and don’t make it the scummy blues.

    • Morgan Wick

      August 5, 2011 at 7:52 pm

      I notice how the only people telling him he can’t support both Chelsea and Fulham are Fulham fans. Presumably, Chelsea fans think it’s cute that the Fulham fans think they’re rivals.

  23. gbewing

    August 3, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    Thanks for this, I have been a casual fan from a distance (my brother is a successful hs coach in midwest here in states) and within last 2 years began getting into the EPL heavily. I adopted Tottenham primarily because they reminded me of my Royals baseball team of the 70’s. Let’s face it the Hotspur name name didn’t hurt nor Bale and VV. You are correct the game does come to you the more you watch games. I am a big bb fan and football on many levels seems like basketball with the feet. I have 2 Tottenham kits (no player names -they leave too quick) and learning about the team I know Arsenal is their chief rival. Like the previous poster I love to watch Arsenal and Barca style but I get I can’t root for my teams arch rival but I don’t hate watching them play. I would suggest reading some books as well that mix entertainment with learning.
    The basics like Fever Pitch. I also recently downloaded an Amazon series on the history of each EPL team for my Kindle. I got the Totenham one. It’s cheap and covers the basics which helps you pick up on your chosen teams history. Bloody Confused is another great fan book because the American journalist who wrote it captures my own sports mindset and journey perfectly in what lead me/him to become an EPL fan. It’s funny and entertaining. Jonathon Wilson (thanks EPL) Inverting the Pyramid is a great resource to learn history and tactics. Some of it is over my head, but it has helped me watch the game with a finer eye. I am a bit of a saber nerd for baseball so I am naturally curious about what goes beyond the basic stats and eye’s mind. This lead me to The Blizzard Quarterly and wow what a great resource-no better bang for the buck writing on the subject for a newbie. Pay as You Play is a book I hope to start soon. I am not completely sold on the European “Big 4” win everything system yet as superior to USA model. (a hybrid for me makes sense) Of course blogs so many. I am playing Football Manager and getting killed with my Sporting team-I don’t know shit about tactics and formations but Football Lineups has a great section describing all the formations. I try some out then watch a game to see what happens.

    Love the game

  24. Ricardo

    August 3, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    This is an excellent starter article for future soccer fans! Well written!

    I agree with both MennoDaddy and Efrain… go for the team you enjoy watching. You may not know much about Inter or Bayern or Barca or any other team, in the beginning, but after watching them play quite a bit, you’ll get a true essence of the game.

    If you become a bandwagon fan then so be it! We need more people in the U.S. appreciate the beautiful game!

    • Harry

      August 3, 2011 at 8:11 pm

      Thanks Ricardo!!! And let’s face it, no matter the sport…there is always going to be bandwagon hoppers! ANd I do plan to try and watch a few more Italian games this season. I can’t put my finger on it but some of their teams’ style of play is a bit different than what I have seen in the EPL.

      • Taylor

        August 3, 2011 at 10:00 pm

        I encourage you to do it. You’ll find different aspects of different leagues and might be able to appreciate different styles and different clubs. I was fortunate to grow up being able to watch different leagues on TV: the old Division One (before becoming Premiership), the Premiership itself, La Liga, Holland Eredivisie, Bundesliga and Serie A. It gives me a sense of appreciation and knowledge.

      • Alan

        August 4, 2011 at 1:54 am

        Serie A is a very exciting league no matter what anyone says. And yes, I agree with you. They have a very unique feel and style as far as I am concerned. My favorite team Roma are currently rebuilding. Another good thing about Serie A is that there are a lot of games on FSC and FS+ all the time.

  25. Will

    August 3, 2011 at 7:07 pm


    I like where your heads at, someone should write an article not comparing just cities, but clubs to either Pro or College Football teams in the states.

    • Harry

      August 3, 2011 at 9:03 pm

      what do you mean? Give me more clarification and maybe I can come up with something

    • LL

      August 3, 2011 at 9:52 pm

      Bill Simmons espn did an article on this and it was very good.
      Keep in mind that it was a few years ago and some of the teams are long gone….. Charlton.

      The problem with supporting a team that is not high profile is, as an American its hard to get really into them, as you dont live near them, they are never really on tv unless they are playing a big club, and unlike American sports are never going to get better unless some rich person buys them as there is no draft.
      I see no problem with anyone picking one of the big teams from Europe to root for. A friend of mine, because of me started watching and picked Wolves. He is not into the EPL as he is with the American sports teams he roots for and its cause they kind of suck. If he would of picked Spurs, Arsenal, or even Newcastle ( i am still shocked they went down) as I suggested, im sure he would of been hooked by now. I even suggested he look at Everton as he did not want to pick one of the “big 4”.
      If wolves had gotten relegated I doubt he would even talk about them as he could not really see them on tv. You dont have to pick a team that can Win every year but you need a team that can at least compete for champions league or Europa league or that person will never truly get into it being from America.

      As for the guy who roots for Arsenal and Barca, what do you do when they play against each other?? I could not pick more then one team to support in Europe as they do play against each other if they get in the Champions league.

  26. DFW_RED

    August 3, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    I always wanted someone to do an article comparing the 10-15 major cities to cities in England or Europe that they are most like. Maybe that could help a new fan pick a team.

  27. Johnathan B

    August 3, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    If you are new to soccer and have to choose a team stay away far away from Manchester United and Barcelona. Both teams are so engulfed by bandwagon fans I would say only 10 percent of the total fan population of those 2 teams are actually “true” fans that where supporting for them before they got good.

    • MennoDaddy

      August 3, 2011 at 7:01 pm

      And I say pick whatever damn club to support that you want, and don’t worry about what other people say about it.

      Really like the way United wins? Root for United. Like all the stars on City? Be a Citizen. Love the way Barcelona plays? Be a Barca fan.

      It bugs me to no end the superiority complex that some fans have about being a “true” fan. Who cares? The important thing is that more people are following soccer.

      • Guy

        August 3, 2011 at 7:59 pm

        +1…..with you all the way. I also love how some absolutely “know” why you support a certain team. Must be psycho…err…psychic.

        • IanCransonsKnees

          August 4, 2011 at 2:09 pm

          That’s easy Guy.

          Manchester United – Nobody from Manchester supports them, hence the massive support in other countries.

          Arsenal – Mostly Africans who have a love hate relationship with Ryan Shawcross.

          Liverpool – Enjoy bin dipping and hub cap theiving.

          Chelsea – God knows why. Although Drogba is the bollocks.

          Stoke – Knuckle dragging numpties and morons 😉

      • MG

        August 4, 2011 at 7:53 pm

        Though I agree that people should be able to follow whoever they want, it certainly doesn’t make them respectable people. I have NO respect for people that choose to follow/support a team JUST because they win or are popular and remain clueless fans. Those people can watch and claim to like the sport all they want, but I have zero respect for them. You can be a Man Utd fan and a Barca and be respectable so long as you become a true fan and actually learn to know about the club and its history, at least current history. That’s all.

        • Margaret

          June 15, 2014 at 2:14 am

          I think people should support what they want.There always will bandwagon fans,but that shouldn’t stop you from supporting that team.I have been a fan of Hounduras all my life and even though the team is the not the best I will not suddenly start liking Italy just because they won.You just have to suck it up and prove there are still some true fans out there

    • Efrain

      August 3, 2011 at 7:18 pm

      Johnathan, not looking to start a fight here lol, but I must disagree with your view of picking teams based on the “type” of fan base.

      I follow Arsenal and Barcelona. I have only been following soccer for about 6 years. I picked them after I watched many games in both leagues. I really enjoyed their passing style. That is what it came down for me. The passing styles really impressed me and at times awed me. I didnt care how popular they were or what type of fans they had. I liked their tactics and how they tried to be selfish with ball possession. But, most importantly,their passing just knocked my socks off. I dont think any newcomer should base their picks on the type of fan base, popularity, etc.

      Just my 2 cents.

      • Taylor

        August 3, 2011 at 9:27 pm

        I agree with MennoDaddy: I;ve been a fan of United since 1989 (yes, 22 years) and I don’;t think I will have to stop become their fan because there are so many bandwagon fans.
        There will always be bandwagon fans anywhere. Under normal circumstances, I don’t like bandwagon fans, but in the US, we need people to really like soccer for it to grow and become a grassroot game.

    • Phil Sandifer

      August 4, 2011 at 11:58 am

      To be a fan of Manchester United before they got good, I’d have had to start rooting for them twenty years ago. When I was nine.

      • Taylor

        August 4, 2011 at 12:38 pm

        I have no problem with the fans rooting for any clubs when they are (were) good too.
        A lot of us were exposed to certain club(s) or league(s) when they were good and then they became then fan. The process was easy: they became hooked and there were no steps required (1), (2), (3) on how to pick a team. They simply liked how the team played.
        This happened a lot to a lot of people living outside Europe 20 years ago: they got their exposure through TV. There was no internet, etc.

        • Dan

          August 5, 2011 at 2:10 pm

          Taylor, that’s exactly how I became a Man Utd supporter. Watched a CL match in ’95 on ESPN in the US and became hooked. A couple years later they began showing the EPL highlights on Sunday nights. Then we finally got Fox Sports World which later became Fox Soccer Channel.

    • DiabloRojo

      August 4, 2011 at 3:08 pm

      Saying someone is a “bandwagon” fan and not a “true” fan just because they happened to start supporting a team when they “got good” (such as Man U or Barcelona) is a completely unfair generalization. I know plenty of people that are fans of big clubs that may have started supporting those teams when they “got good,” that have gone on to become “true” fans by learning everything they can about the clubs history, traditions, former players, rivalries, grounds, fan bases, etc. The point in time at which you start supporting a club has no real bearing whatsoever on whether you are a “true” fan.

      • MG

        August 4, 2011 at 7:50 pm

        this. this. THIS.
        in a nutshell.

      • Harry

        August 5, 2011 at 7:22 am

        While I agree, my point of contention especially when it comes to some fairweather fans here stateside of sports teams, is that a lot of people hop on not just when teams get good but close to winning whatever championship is at hand, for instance look at all the new Lakers fans that came out of nowhere last year or all of the people that sided with the Heat this year and then the moment their team didn’t perform well, all of the hats, jerseys, T shirts, keychains, coasters, car flags and so on disappeared. Honestly it’s ok if you want to hop on at some point but you have to do it knowing that a ‘true fan’ is the one that STAYS on when your side is both winning and losing, when they have good seasons and when they have bad seasons.

        I know a lot of people who have been Ravens fans like myself since the beginning in 1996 and stuck through all of our wins and losses. I have met people who hopped on after the Super Bowl win and stayed on and I even know a few that the only time they seem to be Ravens fans is when they are having a decent season.

        It happens in sports. Fans are fickle but true fans know the difference when they meet people but the bottom line is what are true fans doing to keep (or let loose) fairweather fans?

        • Harold

          August 5, 2011 at 12:37 pm

          The most successful teams can afford the players that are most exciting to watch which in turn makes them more attractive teams for new supporters to follow. If someone in the USA casually watches a few games on ESPN and gets drawn into watching more because of the excitement of seeing Manchester United score a late winning goal. If they then start to follow Man United does it make them a bandwaggon jumper or a gloryhunter? Not if they read up on the club’s history and have a reasonable knowledge of the starting 11. The same for Barcelona or any of the successful teams. Certain people seem to spend a lot more effort on proving their credentials as a fan of a particular club rather than encouraging new recruits to follow the beautiful game

          • Taylor

            August 5, 2011 at 3:48 pm

            This is spot on !
            Some people tend to make things difficult. Like I said in my comments in the latter part: if you want to be a fan, just want to enjoy the game without knowing everything, that’s fine. If you’d like to know the history etc, that’s great, but this is not a must.

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