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Argentina's Lionel Messi, right, eyes the ball during a challenge with Greece's Loukas Vyntra during the World Cup group B soccer match between Greece and Argentina at Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane, South Africa, Tuesday, June 22, 2010.
The most viewed soccer match in US history ended with many regrets Saturday, as Team USA once again conceded an early goal and ultimately couldn’t recover. Despite this disappointing loss after USA’s dramatic win over Algeria, there are still plenty of reasons to continue watching the World Cup even if you aren’t a soccer aficionado.
5) Everyone Else is Watching – Let’s face it, when it comes to soccer in the U.S. there is still a lot of work to be done in garnering attention. Team USA’s success in the group stage certainly brought more awareness to soccer here in the States, but compared to other countries the U.S. is still way behind. For instance, the best U.S. players often end up playing for club teams abroad and Major League Soccer (MLS) attracts significantly less interest than the Premier League in England. If the U.S. wants to be recognized as a regular international soccer competitor our interest is essential, and it all starts with the biggest soccer event: the World Cup.
4) Match Parties – Who doesn’t like a good party? World Cup matches provide a unique experience for the soccer faithful and those looking to initiate themselves as soccer’s newest fans. From bars opening at 6AM on the west coast, mass public viewings, and other special events across the country, following the World Cup is actually pretty fun. Best of all, no matter where you live there is undoubtedly an awesome World Cup party or event going on near you for every match. Who doesn’t like jumping up and down with a bunch of strangers when a goal is scored?
3) What Else Are You Watching? – The (American) football season doesn’t start until September, the NBA season just ended, the NHL season is also on break, college sports are winding down, and baseball is approaching the All-Star break in a couple weeks. Why not watch the World Cup? Unlike baseball and (American) football, the soccer ball is actual moving throughout the match and the only commercial breaks occur at halftime. Combine this with great action on the field, and the World Cup is arguably one of the most enjoyable sporting events to watch – especially with Vuvuzelas.
2) Lionel Messi – The Argentinean number ten and current FIFA World Player of Year is arguably the best player of our generation. While he has yet to score a goal for Argentina, Messi garners more attention than any other player on the field, drawing defenders faster than honey draws bees. His ball control and dribbling are second to none and the world holds its breath every time he gets the ball in space for the possibility of another nay-impossible goal that only Messi could make. A World Cup win on top of Messi’s 2008 Olympic Gold could elevate him into discussions of his place as one of the best soccer players to ever live. Although many soccer critics remain convinced Maradona and Pelé are the two greatest soccer players ever, you can’t help but being awed by Messi. If not, check out this goal he scored during a Copa del Rey semi-final against Getafe, which was very similar to Maradona's famous goal against England at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, known as the Goal of the Century.
1) Unpredictable Results – The biggest stage brings about the most unpredictable events. Who would have guessed France’s failure or Italy’s collapse? After holding your breath for 90 minutes did you ever think the U.S. would win its group? Experts like to make predictions based on whom the best teams are, but as we’ve seen time and time again the predicted best team doesn’t always win in the World Cup. Whether it is a miraculous play, misplay, or simply a lucky bounce of the ball, the World Cup is about living in the moment of the 90 minutes you get on the field.
If this isn’t reason enough to watch the World Cup, soccer in the U.S. may never catch on.