Guest columnist Brandon Castro (@brandoncee) shares his reasons why we should watch the World Cup even though Team USA didn’t qualify for the tournament.
It is a down time for American sports. The only major sport ongoing at this time is the MLB and even baseball has not hit their midway point to the season.
So I have an alternative.
The FIFA World Cup is one month in duration. Yes, just one month. It started June 14th and a champion will be crowned on July 15th. How is that for a season? Is it quicker that the NBA playoffs? Absolutely!
The first round consists of eight groups (or conferences) with four teams in each. The four teams play each other once and the top two teams in each group advance to the second round. The second round matchups are single elimination games until a winner is crowned.
Since this year the World Cup is being held in Russia there is an approximate 10-hour time difference between Russia and the United States. This means the games are on television in the early morning.
This is one perk for America.
The World Cup does not have to compete against your favorite evening television shows, but instead is competing against infomercials, the morning local news, or The Price is Right. I know what I’ll be watching: Soccer (or futbol as it is called around the world) instead of some of these other American staples.
There are no timeouts or commercials!
If you’re an American football fan like me, you know that sometimes watching an NFL or NCAA football game can turn into a frustrating affair with all the commercials, especially in the first quarter and toward the end of each half.
At the start of an NFL, game a well-deserved person sings the National Anthem and then there’s three minutes of commercials. Then we get the kickoff! The NFL needs to make their money so there’s another 2-3 minutes of commercials. Then, God forbid, the team with the ball first punts after three downs because we will intolerably have another set of commercials. And anyone who has ever watched an American football game on television knows that the final three minutes of a half can turn into an infomercial with the teams calling timeouts, TV timeouts, and the two-minute warning.
This is where soccer has an undeniable advantage. You won’t have to uncomfortably sit through a Cialis commercial or hear a long list of adverse side effects in fast-forward audio.
From the opening pass at midfield there are no commercials!
Each half is 45 minutes long with no interruptions. There are no television timeouts. There are no referee timeouts! No TV timeouts. No injury timeouts. There simply are no timeouts. It is just non-stop action. Now if you are like me you have to appreciate and look forward to a sport without timeouts.
The second half is where the excitement is. The first half, to me, is more of a feeling out period. The two teams are moving at methodical pace. They are looking for an opening. The teams are trying to get free kicks (a kick that is after a foul) and corner kicks. It is very similar to an NFL game in the sense that both teams are playing cautiously trying to not make a mistake in the first half until a goal is scored.
A team inevitably will score and this is when the excitement happens.
When one team is down a goal or two they are fiercely attempting to tie the game. This is the best time in a soccer match. The team that is down is rushing to get shots on goal. The pace is much faster and the team in the lead is trying desperately to hang onto the lead. With one team protecting their lead we will get fast break attempts that are exciting to watch. The ball is flying up and down the field. Players are sprinting back and forth to get their moment of fame. The best part of a soccer match is the final 20 minutes when a team is down one goal. It’ll definitely keep you on the edge of your seat. In a blink of an eye the game could be tied or the lead will expanded. Exciting stuff!
Corner Kicks, Free Kicks, and Penalty Kicks
There is really nothing like a corner kick in soccer. I cannot think of another sport that has this type of drama and suspense. The only thing like it is, maybe, a two-point conversion in football. You get one chance to score. But even in football two-point conversion attempts are rare. You can watch numerous games without seeing one attempted. To put it simply, the player taking the corner kick is just trying to give one of his teammates in front of the opponent’s goal a chance to knock the ball in the net.
You’ll see about ten of these a game.
The goalies are really up against it versus a penalty kick. For a goalie to stop a shot from a world class soccer player from a mere twelve yards away he needs to be quick on his feet, fearless, and have a bit of luck on his side. Penalty kicks are a much watch sequence and an exciting part of the game.
Free kicks are given when a player is fouled outside of the penalty box. Just like corner kicks, there really is nothing similar to it in sports. The player taking the free kick either tries his luck and takes a shot at the goal or tries to pass it to his teammates that are hoping for a chance to take the shot. These kicks make soccer unique and will keep you anticipating the next shot at the goal.
There are no commercials! What more do I need to say to make my case?
The season is fast and has little competition on television in the morning giving us something to do at work, besides work!
The sport is fast pace and will keep you anticipating the next shot on goal.
These four points are all I need and I’m all in.