Your Guide To The 2010 World Cup
When the folks here at The Collared Sheep asked me to share my insights on sports and the workplace, I jumped at the opportunity. Of course, in addition to fulfilling my ugly procrastination habit, this space provides me with an opportunity to share with you, my fellow office drones, some of the tips and tricks I have for surviving as a die-hard sports fan throughout the workday, during endless synergy presentations and even right under your boss’ nose.
This column, however, focuses less on those fundamentals and more on an event that deserves immediate attention: the 2010 World Cup.
Why should you care?
It is the biggest sporting event in the world (true, exceeding the Olympics and the Super Bowl), an international phenomenon and, like most things in sports, creates instant experts out of people that have not played it since they were 10 years old. We all know you played just for the orange slices the team mom brought at halftime.
Yes, the United States is not a soccer hot bed like the rest of the world, but a growing contingent of Sam’s Army (what’s that? read on…) is quickly helping the sport gain popularity locally.
If you can’t use your hands, what the hell is a pitch?
Granted, some soccer terminology does not translate perfectly to American sports, but learning a few of the basics will go a long way to help you understand the game. Let’s break it down…
Pitch – the playing field
Cap – every time a player participates in an international game, they earn this recognition; many veterans have well over 100
Clear(ance) – kicking the ball away from one’s own goal in a non-passing maneuver; similar to a punt without the definite possession change
Cross(ing) – passing the ball (usually in the air) from near the sideline to in front of the goal for a header or scoring opportunity
The Draw – how the international teams are seeded for the World Cup
Dribbling – moving the ball down the field with one’s feet
Free kick – player kicks a stationary ball with defense at least 10 yards away; awarded after a foul; sometimes an “indirect” free kick for less serious infractions (ball must touch another player)
Foul – a rough tackle, push, shove or any other penalty deemed by the official
Offside – when a player on team A receives a pass from a teammate without a defender from team B “behind” him (closer than the team A player to the goal)
Yellow card – given by an official for a foul or unsportsmanlike behavior; two yellow cards earn a player a red card
Red card – player is removed from the game after an egregious foul or two yellow cards; his team cannot replace him on the field (must play shorthanded) and he will miss the following game
Set pieces – a formation or strategy used for a free kick; a play call
Tackle – stealing or taking the ball away from an opposing player
Yanks – nickname for the United States National soccer team
Sam’s Army – nickname for the United States National team’s fans
Why should I bother?
Why not? Soccer is already the most popular international sport and is growing favor exponentially in the U.S. International soccer is also the best form of the game (like Olympic hockey), and all of the world’s best players participate. Aside from mid-season baseball, no other major sports will be on until August. Not to mention – everyone at your office is going to be talking about it around the water cooler, so you should probably know what you are talking about, right?
Do the Yanks stand a chance of winning?
Yes. Well … actually no. Faced with injuries and some uncertainties, this is not the same United States team that beat Spain – the defending World Cup champions and No. 1-ranked team in the world – a year ago in the Confederations Cup. Then again, it is also not the same team that has failed to garner much attention in previous World Cups. The Americans were provided with a favorable draw in the event – facing England, Slovenia and Algeria in the opening round – and are expected to advance to the second round of the 32-team tournament (two from the initial group – likely the U.S. and England – will move forward). Where they go from there is anyone’s guess.
Best of all, the Yanks take on the Brits in their first match – Saturday, June 12 at 2:30 p.m. (EST). As George Bernard Shaw once said, “England and America are two countries separated by a common language.” The United States looks to expand on that by separating themselves in the sport of soccer, too.
OK, OK…where can I watch?
On television: ABC, ESPN, ESPN2