This snarkster still thinks soccer needs a lot of work to become interesting on a routine basis. I have proposed many common sense changes that would lead to a much larger fan base in the US. Link to my genius wisdom at end of this post.
That said, I watched about 10 world cup games. Most of which were at best, modestly exciting. But, several them were awesome! The key factor in the excitement level is the presence of otherworldly talent, guys who can fake out three guys in the goalie box and either score or pass to a wide open teammate. If you have that, on both sides, you get a great game. Such a circumstance was in play during the final game of this years’ world cup match between Argentina and France. Lionel Messi and Kilian Mbappe, specifically.
Unfortunately for soccer, these two appear to be the ONLY such players in the entire world. In basketball, any bench warmer can fake out a guy or two and get a layup. In soccer, you have to do the same thing with YOUR FEET. So much harder. So hard, in fact, that almost no one can do it.
But if either of those guys are playing in a game, then you should watch. Its an amazing feat. Accomplished with feet. Hyuck yuk.
In other observations, it is clear that many teams have their key defensive players, the backs, who occasionally have a brain power outage and just allow players from the other team to be wide open. Which is good, because if they actually covered their guys closely, then there might never be any goals. The US team was bum rushed out of the WC primarily because they allowed Dutch strikers to get wide open repeatedly, and they didn’t miss. Its just possible that soccer teams could instruct their defensive guys to actually cover wide open opposing players. Just a hint, you know.
Contact Ted Lasso!
There was much discussion as to how far the US team has come, they are young and will get better in the next four years, etc. I saw the team get blown out by the Netherlands due to leaving guys wide open repeatedly. The team has NO ONE who can fake other players out on the dribble. And on those rare occasions when they have a good shot, they just miss. I wish I could be more optimistic, but I saw no reason for that. I think the guys that would be international superstars in soccer are all playing basketball or football instead.
Flopping is still endemic in the game, and a complete embarrassment. If you come within five feet of an opposing player, he falls down and immediately feigns extreme pain and agony. Everyone yells at the ref. The pussy writhing on the ground looks like someone has removed a kidney with rusty garden shears. Can you imagine this in an NFL game? Guys get hit by 250 pound linebackers who run 4.4 forties, at full speed. Those receivers or running backs get up, and jog back to the huddle. You get nudged by a 140 pound soccer player, and you then pretend you just delivered a baby? Soccer needs to enforce penalties for flopping, with an extra yellow card for pretending a life threatening injury. Its beyond mockable nonsense.
So in summary, the ways to win at soccer are somewhat simple:
Have a Messi or Mbappe on the team. Cloning is likely necessary here.
Cover wide open opposing players in the goal area
When you get a good shot, score. I think there are like eight decent chances a game, gotta put it in twice or you are futbol toast. I suggest more practice as it appears most players have never tried to do this before.
Soccer needs to eliminate the incentives for flopping or be subject to continued justified derision, and contempt by real men who play football, basketball, hockey, or curling.
Here is my take on how to fix soccer and make it exciting.