Friday, November 13, 2009

Soccer was just catching on in my part of the country when I was growing up, and as a result, I started playing only at the age of eleven or twelve. This meant that although it was too late for me to become especially good at the game, I did develop an appreciation for it.

I don't follow the game religiously, but I do keep an eye on how the US National team is doing, follow the World Cup every four years, and occasionally will watch an English Premier League game when I find a pub -- like the Richmond Arms in Houston -- that makes a point of showing them live.

So I was pleased to see the national team finish first in the North American/Caribbean qualification tournament for the 2010 World Cup, and hope to see -- dare I say, look forward to seeing -- it fare better than it did in 2006. (Ugh. Looking back into the archives, I see that a draw with Italy was the high point of that one...) I hear that the team has a more challenging schedule of friendlies leading up to the tournament this time, so between that and the team having no other direction to go, I am cautiously optimistic.

In any event, the game brings back fond memories of my youth, as did three videos I found recently, which present the good, the bad, and the ugly of soccer: amazing goals, goalkeeper blunders, and own goals.

I'm posting the video of goalkeeper blunders here because it reminds me of my favorite goal. My brother's team and mine were playing against each other once, and I was playing halfback as usual at the time. His team was controlling play most of the time, to the point that their goalkeeper thought it would be cute to sit down at one end of his goal.

I eventually noticed this and so, the next time I got the ball, I shot on goal from midfield and enjoyed watching their keeper scurry to his feet and miss the ball, which sailed in untouched and stretched the net on the opposite side of the goal. I also enjoyed seeing him standing up and acting like a goalkeeper for the rest of the game. (With that in mind, it should be easy to guess which of the above is my favorite goalkeeper blunder.)

-- CAV


Tom said...

I played soccer in my youth but moved on to football (American). I found soccer to have one major flaw that made it seem like the perfect sport for communism. That flaw is: offsides.

If soccer eliminated the offsides rule, or even used an NHL style "scoring zone" offsides, it would be much more exciting and it wouldn't penalize aggressive passing. The way it is currently, it simply restricts the good from being the good.

Gus Van Horn said...

If soccer eliminated the offsides rule, it wouldn't be soccer.

This criticism, and others that charge that soccer is somehow communistic because it doesn't feature non-stop scoring, I have addressed at length before. In fact, this is as off-base as complaining that basket ball is "inflationary" (and therefore socialistic) because there's lots of scoring there, or that football equipment is communistic because it obscures the individuality of the players.

Tom said...

I didn't say non-stop scoring, I said aggressive passing. Kind of like hockey. I'm not the biggest hockey fan, but even I can realize the awesome execution of a one-timer as something that shouldn't be penalized. In soccer, it is.

Gus Van Horn said...

If you didn't have the offsides rule in soccer, you'd have players camped out in front of the goals all the time and you'd destroy almost all of the strategy that goes into the game.

One site explains:

"The rule was created to prevent offensive players from 'cherry picking' near the opponents' goal. Without the rule, offensive players could hover near their opponents' goal even when the play is on the other side of the field, with the hope of a long pass and an easy goal. The offside rule still allows for the chance to score."

Your complaint that this penalizes "aggressive passing" makes no sense in this context, given the price that making such passes legal would exact in soccer.

Mo said...

I see you like soccer. I usually watch the world cup and the European league which takes place 2 years after the world cup. always love the upsets especially when Germany were hosting it and lost to Italy. Was pretty cool to see the reaction of the German fans.

In 2000 when Italy was playing France (European League) and lost I was so pissed off. Whose your favorite player BTW? I'm going with zidane

Gus Van Horn said...

Oddly enough, I don't really have a favorite player at the moment, although I do like Zidane and, while we're talking about French players, Tierry Henry, as well.

It helps that Henry played for Arsenal, my favorite Premier League team for a while. As for why I like Arsenal, that was the name of the team my Dad coached, and the last club team I played for in high school. (A gun shop sponsored us, hence the name.)

bothenook said...

i'm interested to see how tomorrow's game between egypt and algeria turns out. i can't believe fifa didn't rule in algeria's favor after the bus incident. i'm really curious to see how the team is going to do with one of its stars sporting a brand new batch of seven stitches in his head.

Gus Van Horn said...


That is a disgrace, and I am disappointed that all FIFA did was ask Egypt to provide decent security.

Not good news, but since that went under my radar, I do appreciate you mentioning it.