July 15, 2014 |
THEY CAME FROM far away, in South Jersey, both wearing red Phillies shirts amid the sea of multicolored soccer jerseys that had flooded South Street. They heard the strange sounds of European techno, saw men wearing knitted scarves on a sweltering Sunday - and it wasn't so bad, they said, because the men playing soccer on the 20-foot screen in the center of South Street were "really hot. " "We came for the beer," said Ashley Cleave, 24. "We came for the Phillies [on the bar's TV]
July 14, 2014 |
THERE IS no question that soccer (futbol) fever has swept America in the last month. We all saw thousands of people gathered at outdoor venues to watch the gallant effort of the U.S. men's national team in the World Cup. The outpouring of public enthusiasm was contagious and drew in people who had no concept of the difference between a midfielder and a striker. This incredible enthusiasm was also reflected in TV ratings. Twenty-four million people watched the U.S. team's thrilling match against Portugal, which ended in an agonizing tie, and 24.5 million watched the U.S. team get eliminated by Belgium in the Round of 16. These rating surpassed the average for the 2013 World Series telecast (14.9 million average viewers)
July 13, 2014 |
Argentina meets Germany Sunday in the finale of the World Cup. You may have heard. But don't forget the amazing things that happened Tuesday. Not just Germany's gobsmacking 7-1 shellacking of Brazil — what Diego Macias of Olé, a sports daily in Argentina, called a "nuclear bomb, footballistically speaking. " Just as amazing was the social-media reaction — a monumental spasm of human play. How a species plays tells much about it. Of no species is this truer than our own. Sports, for example, model our world and help us understand it. Play is body practice, soul practice.
July 11, 2014 |
THE 2014 World Cup has far and wide been deemed a great success, even before its conclusion on Sunday afternoon. More people have watched, talked and tweeted about the event than ever before, and it is causing ripple effects within the sport. With the record numbers of people watching futbol, especially in America, the talk now becomes how to keep soccer relevant in the years between World Cups. Experts and analysts will debate all they want about how to get Americans to watch more of the English Premier League, or go to Major League Soccer games in the United States.
July 11, 2014
ANN COULTER knows how to get our attention, which is not always a good thing. Nikita Khrushchev got our attention, as did Miley Cyrus, Sandra Fluke and George Zimmerman. The mere fact that we're listening is not a propitious sign. However, it does mean that whatever falls from Ann's mouth will generally be talked about by the sort of people who either think she is a goddess of common sense or who think she peddles horse manure. I don't fall into either category. To me, the objectively brilliant pundit with an Ivy pedigree and Little Mermaid hair is neither a paragon nor a virago.
July 10, 2014 |
A SOCCER DIVE, known as a Robben in the Netherlands, is annoying even to the soccer purist, but to the narrow-minded haters of the sport who emerge like cicadas every 4 years during the World Cup, it comes up in conversation even more than the word nil. "What's the score, nil-nil," they cackle. Uh, it usually is, but that doesn't mean it's a bad game. Americans didn't invent futbol, and thus become unbelievably haughty about its presence on TVs everywhere recently. Yet, if they were honest and looked at it as an alien might view some sports they appreciate, the world might be a better place.
July 6, 2014 |
Philadelphia Freedoms rookie Marcelo Melo is in the midst of a hectic few weeks. He played in four high-pressure men's doubles matches at Wimbledon this week, advancing to the quarterfinals of one of the most important tournaments in the sport. Just days later, the 30-year-old is preparing to play for the first time in World TeamTennis in a city that he has never been to. But neither of those challenges fazed him. Instead, the thing that has nearly made Melo crack has been watching his native Brazil compete in the World Cup. Melo followed Brazil's matches closely during Wimbledon.
July 4, 2014 |
As Mitchell Torh dipped his hand into the cool waters of the river that separates Liberia from Ivory Coast, the young boy didn't understand the stakes: His family was escaping from a civil war raging in his native Liberia. In Torh's memory, the cost of the canoe trip across the Cavalla River was two bags of rice. That started a journey that included a decade in a refugee camp in Ghana - where he was separated from his family - and finally ended at a soccer field in Southwest Philadelphia.
July 4, 2014 |
Vlendy "Eric" Slueue does a lot of his work in a crowd. If he's free from the masses, and a soccer ball is at the Junior Lone Star midfielder's feet, his opponent may be in trouble. "People can't stop me one-on-one," Slueue said. "They can't. " In practice or in a game, the anticipation level rises when the ball finds Slueue. His turns and feints keep defenders off balance, setting up the next move. His best attribute? "I'm good with my left foot," Slueue said. A recent graduate of Bartram High, the 18-year-old native of Liberia drew a lot of Division I college interest but recently decided to play professional soccer.
July 3, 2014 |
AMERICA'S MOST popular athlete - for the time being, anyway - is Tim Howard, soccer goalie extraordinaire. Howard had 16 saves, many of them miraculous, in the United States' 2-1 overtime loss to Belgium on Tuesday. And fans reacted in a big way. There were tweets comparing Howard to Jesus: * "Jesus puts on 'Tim Howard saves' T-shirt. " * "Have you ever seen Tim Howard and Jesus in the same room? Just saying. " * "Difference between Tim Howard and Jesus - Jesus had 11 guys he could trust.