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Features — USA Soccer Stud

For the next month, soccer fans watching the World Cup will see more fake injuries than any amount of magic spray could possibly cure. And by fake I mean diving, flopping, conniving—temporarily feigning injury in an effort to draw an advantageous ruling on the field.

Although seen in international soccer with regularity, diving during the World Cup happens in greater frequency because the stakes are higher. (This is the world championship, after all, held once every four years.) And when the stakes are higher, cowardice teams will employ anything they can for an edge.

“In the British game, it is often seen as an import from foreign players,” says psychologist Paul Morris, who studies diving at the University of Portsmouth. “Many people argue that it has been common in Italian football for decades.” Continue reading…

June 10, 2010
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Salt Lake starters Robbie Findley and Kyle Beckerman hope to represent USA at World Cup this summer (Photo: MLS)

SANDY, UT—In a country of more than 300 million, only 23 will get to play for the U.S. at this summer’s World Cup.

Talk about lousy odds.

And for two of those hopefuls, playing for the same domestic professional team, the odds are even worse. But that hasn’t stopped Real Salt Lake’s Kyle Beckerman and Robbie Findley from trying.

“It feels great to be a part of the whole process,” says a Beckerman. “I’ve played in more than 200 MLS games, but only 12 games for the national team, so it’s really special.” Continue reading…


LOS ANGELES—Prospective U.S. striker Edson Buddle is on fire. In his first six games for the LA Galaxy, the seasoned MLS forward scored an incredible nine times. That’s an average of 1.5 goals per game—more than enough to make him a player of interest to U.S. coach and World Cup roster-picker Bob Bradly.

“His talent came through based upon his ability to score some great goals,” Bradly said of Buddle last week. “In less obvious ways he seems to be doing the little things on the field that make a difference for his team.”

As an out-of-nowhere hopeful to fill the shoes of Charlie Davies (still recovering from injury), I spoke with Buddle today about his breakout success. When asked if he’s been contacted by U.S. Soccer or coach Bob Bradly about a potential spot on the team, Buddle said no. “I know as much as you do,” he added. Continue reading…jersey-close

Robert Bradford/USA Soccer Stud

NEW YORK—When you picture Brazil at the World Cup, you expect them in yellow. When you envision Italy, you know they’ll be wearing royal blue. England wears red. Argentina wears baby blue stripes. And Holland dons solid orange.

The United States? They don’t have a signature look, something U.S. Soccer and Nike are hoping to change with the release of new home and away “sash” jerseys. Yes, they look like something a beauty pageant contestant might wear. But there’s a meaningful reason behind the diagonal stripe.

Continue reading…


Unconventional bravery has always been USA’s winningest soccer strategy.

Although losing its first unofficial match 0-1 to Canada in 1885, the United States men’s national team beat Sweden 1-2 in its first official match played in 1916. Historian David Wangerin noted how the upset was achieved in my new favorite soccer book, Soccer in a Football World:

Sportswriter Carl Linde observed how much ground the American forwards covered and how their sheer willpower often compensated for a lack of technique. Linde claimed this style represented “a new way of playing” and that the visitors “form a very dangerous team, mainly through their primitive brutality; through their speed and through their will to win at all costs.” Another writer remarked that such energetic play made the home side Sweden look as though they were engaged in “exercise for older gents.” (p. 85)

After the game, U.S. coach Thomas Cahill added, “We were outclassed by the Swedish players on straight football. It was American grit, pluck, and endurance that won. No great football stars were members of our team, but we had the pluckiest aggregation ever banded together.”

To this day, America still plays a more primitive game when compared to giants such as Brazil, Italy, and Germany. You have to respect that. Otherwise you’ll slow play it as the underdog, ineffectively counter attack, and ultimately lose playing better opponents. This, I fear, is what U.S. coach Bob Bradley will do this summer to our team’s eventual demise. Continue reading…

Part of an ongoing series where anything I don’t like is labeled “un-American.”

image5-300x259-1-2I’ve been an American soccer fan for a long-time, and I can’t stand it anymore. Words like “pace” and “result” should be barred from the game.

In case you’ve never seen a soccer match, many soccer fans and sports writers use the word “pace” when describing a fast player. For example, they’ll say So-And-So “has pace,” or “is pacey.”

Dumbest thing ever. Continue reading…


It may be called “the beautiful game,” but soccer is full of bad acting.

If fans want their sport to be taken seriously by fellow Americans—in other words, thrive here—they need to shun diving from the game at all levels. Otherwise, tough-loving American sports fans will never embrace the sport. And soccer fans in general will continue to get an inferior product. Continue reading…

soccer-ball-300x290-1-2Since most of the world still doesn’t know the story, here’s why:

“Soccer’s etymology is not American but British,” explains Partha Mazumdar of the U.S. Embassy in London. “It comes from an abbreviation for Association Football, the official name of the sport (for those of you who have never heard the team “Association Football” before, it was named after the Football Association, which still governs English soccer, to differentiate itself from the other major type of football, Rugby Football, which was named after the Rugby School. FIFA, the world governing body of soccer, is French for the International Federation of Association Football… F-I-F-A).”

He continues, “For obvious reasons, in the 1880s and 1890s, English newspapers couldn’t use the first three letters of Association as an abbreviation in their pages, so they took the next syllable, S-O-C. With the British penchant for adding “-er” at the end of words: punter, footballer, copper, and, of course, nicknaming rugby, “rugger,” the word “soccer” was soon born, over a hundred years ago, here in England, the home of soccer. We adopted it and kept using it because we have our own indigenous sport that we call football.”

Still don’t like the word soccer? Blame the British, not us Yanks.


Pictured above is the official mascot for the 2010 World Cup. I bet you’re frothing at the mouth for soccer right now. First created for the ’66 cup in England, World Cup mascots are suppose to symbolize the host country. In reality, they do a terrible job while looking ridiculous.

While some are forgivable (Juanito at Mexico ’70, for example), the following are more pathetic than a Brazilian flopping on the field like he had just been doused with face-melting acid. So as we gear up for South Africa, check out the top 10 dumbest-looking World Cup mascots ever: Continue reading…

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