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U.S. Soccer performance equals moderate gain for sport

"You Gotta Be Kidding!"
by Mickey Charles, CEO Sports Network


You win some, you lose some, but it is the result off the scoreboard that matters most.

How else to analyze and evaluate the effort of the US soccer team in the World Cup? This is simply not the game of the nation they represented. Theirs is a country baptized with baseball, basketball, football and (to an extent) hockey at birth. All, seasonally, engulf the populace like a tidal wave of bats, ball, pucks, gloves, nets, goal posts, bases, sticks, rims, backboards, shoulder pads, a potpourri of sporting entertainment. And then, not to feel left out, there is the roar of the racetrack, with NASCAR and Formula 1 auto racing qualifying as the most watched sports in America. Golf, at the appropriate time, takes center stage, whether Tiger Woods is playing well or not. Tennis grabs the spotlight for the four majors and is happy with a small flashlight for the others.

Where does soccer fit into this mosaic of athletic insanity? At the ground level of public schools, then upwards into high school to a lesser degree, in a seeming downward spiral, up again like the Phoenix rising when collegians take to the field and slowly emerging as a recognized contender for attention with professional teams. But, it is the World Cup, the nationalism of it all, the flag-waving, cheering, faces and bodies painted, jingoism and jumping up and down that does it.

These are our guys! They represent the Stars and Stripes...they are on the dais at the front of the activity. Go get 'em!!!

It is patriotic pride, my country right or wrong although the bad calls came the way the red, white and blue with incredible consistency. The inner and underlying bias is evident all the time.

The World Cup is probably the biggest sporting event in the galaxy. It attracts the largest audience one could ever imagine. Those in different time zones are having breakfast in the middle of the night and lunch at dawn. Sleepless nights are the order of the day ... and evenings. From the youngest to the oldest, loyalties are worn on sleeves and impassioned followings are likely an understated description.

Landon Donovan did all he could to get Team USA into the quarterfinals, but came up just short.
All things considered, the U.S. could have, should have, won one more contest. They did not. No shame there. It is the nature of soccer, for the most part. You might be beaten up for the entire match, totally outplayed, a seeming mismatch start to finish, and yet the final tally is one-nil. What are we missing here? Lopsided scores like the 7-0 pasting Portugal put on North Korea are possible but infrequent. Are those that are weaned on soccer from the womb to becoming professional and beyond the product that drives their respective countries into and onto the higher levels of achievement?

The US is to be commended for having gotten as far as it did. They will be back, stronger, faster, more secure in the knowledge that they can play with anyone at all. Youthful aspirants will gather to the pitch at their schools and the vacant lots hurriedly dressed up with goals at either end to test and hone their talents. Players from the professional leagues in North America will become better and better, as the crowds and the dollars paid to them grow. America is a country walking the tightrope between arriving and almost there.

But will it bring with it the sort of gambling interest that is embedded in the other sports? Does the player, the punter, know enough; even care enough to invest a few dollars, Euros or Pounds? Likely not. It is not, for now, the style of the bettor in the US to hyperventilate over a single score, maybe two. Football, basketball and baseball are games that are not over until they are over. Hockey is almost the same, with similar scoring to soccer but infinitely more action on the ice than there is on the pitch.

Is sports betting in The Colonies ready to embrace soccer? It would, given half the chance, but the public has to make the first move and it has to be a major one. Otherwise, anything done here, bettors with sufficient knowledge of soccer worldwide, is limited to a sparse few when compared to all else...a hill beside a mountain. Without that knowledge, a wager placed on a soccer match has more to do with the color of the flag than it has to do with in-depth analysis and knowledge of the sport, teams and players.

As a bookmaker, the US is not the place to set up shop if your future depends on soccer. And, the numbers tallied off-shore for Americans wagering on sports are eclipsed by the major sports in the land of the free and home of the brave if soccer wishes to share the stage with them. Until some unknown time in the future, soccer is standing in the wings, ready to go on but with an audience not beckoning to it.

So, kudos to the US for its performance recently and applause, while not a standing ovation, for the manner in which they competed and for showing all a glimpse of what awaits at future competitions. They will be a factor with which to reckon. That is a certainty but as the applause dies down so does the wagering interest in the World Cup from the States.

Rest assured that only descendants of those that came here at the turn of the century from these countries, those possessed of a particular heritage, or the most fervent and zealous fans of soccer will have followed, or will be following, the remaining contest(s), the semi-finals just completed and the final match itself. Once done, either Spain's or Holland's citizens will rejoice as you have never seen but not because they won a wager. No, because they won the World Cup. Not a village, town, municipality, city or state. An entire country.

The US just might do the same thing one day soon. That could be a good wager and taken with very long odds. Have I gone into the reserves for the money to do that yet? You gotta be kidding!