Op-Ed: Don’t “Claim” ‘Em This Time Around

It’s happening. A little earlier this time around than 2006 I think.

You know you hear it.

You’re at the gym in the morning–as happened to me on Friday–and suddenly you hear a discussion. It usually goes something like this:

Everton United!

Mr. Too-Much-Under-Armour: “I think we can beat England.”

Mr. 1998 Kona Marathon T-Shirt: “Oh…of course…Landon Donovan killed it in English league with Everton United and Tim Howard is the best in the world. It was important for them to play together before June to develop good chemistry.”

Mr. Too-Much-Under-Armour: “I know and everyone’s going to be talking about Jozy Altidore. Remember how he demolished Spain last year all by himself?”

….and then you look down and they’re both holding identical sweat-stained copies of ESPN the Mag.

Don’t snicker and certainly don’t do the one thing that your mindwill want to compel you to do.

Don’t claim your battle-tested, world cup qualifying Yanks uber-fandom this World Cup cycle!

Don’t do what the Sports Fella (Dan at The Yanks Are Coming told me he’s called the Sports Fella now by those in the know, not the Sports Guy) did with Kevin Durant.

Heck, don’t do what TSG did in December with Alejandro Bedoya–we’ll stop that by the way.

Revel in the casual fans that are starting to pay more attention! No need to correct by adding in your expertise, games watched, or merely letting them know that Tim Howard plays for “Everton.”

In the past twelve months there has arguably been a hockey stick of “improvement” in the adoption of the game in America and in the achievement of Americans in that sport. Consider, in no specific order, the following:

• Fulhamerica, the club of Boca and McBride, will be in their first European final in their 131-year history….and joining them on the pitch will be Clint Dempsey, the first American ever in a European Cup final.

• EPL ratings on ESPN started out at a .02 way back in August with Jozy and the Tigers taking on Terry and his band of Blues. Fast-forward to April 3rd of 2010, a .04 rating for Chelsea-Manchester United absent Wayne Rooney. Triple that rating and guess what? You’re in MLB territory.

• Tiger Woods has been dethroned as Gatorade’s spokesman….in favor of Landon Donovan.

• England fans are paying attention to the Yanks…and were expecting Jozy Altidore to notch 6 to 10 goals this campaign with no service.

• US Youth Soccer, the nation’s largest youth sports organization, grew from 100,000 players in 1974 to more than 1 million in the early ’90s. Today, US Youth Soccer now stands annually at over 3.2 million players, ages 5 to 19. (Media Post)

• Red Bull Arena and Philadelphia Union.

Your comment, should you choose to engage, to Mr. Too-Much-Under-Armour: “Hey you guys should check out Fulham United and Clint Dempsey—-you know the guy in all those new advertising campaigns–on May12th. He’s the first American that will play in a European final!”

Or let them know when the next MLS game not featuring Sasha Kljestan is.

Oh, and about the only statistic not in the U.S. favor? In 2006, the United States started out as a 40-to-1 favorite to win the World Cup. This year, 66-to-1…but who really cares.

Remember, though, don’t claim’em.

9 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by patrickhattrick on 2010/05/02 at 8:29 PM

    Does this mean that I can get a drink called “Landon” now? BTW, loving the giant ESPN magazine world cup issue. 39 days! I think, just so that someone else doesn’t do it more cruelly, you should gently inform these guys that it isn’t in fact Everton United, but simply Everton. Don’t forget to discuss in depth the Jozy mystery of where he’s going and talk about CD9. Good to keep these sweaty guys informed.


    • Posted by Kevin on 2010/05/02 at 10:09 PM

      His drink won’t be called Landon. It will be called landycakes and it will taste like… cake. A chocolate and a vanilla flavor.



  2. And most important invite those kitten-eaters away from the iron and move to the bar where you can educate them, sans ESPN the Mag, in the ways of soccer over free beer.

    With interest on the rise we’ve got a unique opportunity to educate Americans through the wealth of knowledge that the TSG community has of the game. Why not put it to good use and become free beer ambassadors of the sport?


  3. Posted by Wilson on 2010/05/02 at 10:16 PM

    “Landon” Bridge is falling down. falling down… It all about Donovan now. Coaches finally put him a position that benefits him and team play. Why did it take the coaches so long to make him a winger/like a Crist. Ronaldo, EPL is suppose to be the best league in the world and no one thought to play him wide and not up top next to Berbatov. When US, this sleeping giant, awakens a dream team I’ll make sure I’m there. Winning is not the world cup is not the key. Growing the next Generation to fantasize about soccer/football. I am talking about the media. Push out the Jim Rome’s sports fanatics that don’t do their own research and bring in the new face that is appealing to the youth.


  4. A little anecdote from this week-end, full of symbolism:

    So we cruised down the GW parkway, the roadway famous for the near-death crash of none other than Charlie Davies, towards Mount Vernon like we do a lot of week-ends. After a couple of 4-year old vs. bicycle near death crashes on the Mount Vernon Trail, we decided a safer environment was required so we popped down to the home of our first president. Of course, in celebration of our Stevie-G assisted victory at Anfield, I’m wearing my Drogs jersey…

    We’re in line for the tour of the home of our first president and one of the guides goes “oh my god! you’re not a real Chelsea fan, are you? I say, “in the flesh”. I tell her briefly about some of my days at the Bridge. She gets very excited and tells me all about how her son is a big prem-ear-ship fan and likes Man U, Liverpool and Chelsea. I tell her that sounds like it would have more conflicts of interest than Goldman Sachs. She sees the name on the back of my shirt and tells me that her son LOVES Didier Drogba with perfect french pronunciation…

    Anyways, we start the tour but we run into her a bit later as she’s giving us the talk about Mrs. Washington’s bedroom. Afterwards, she bursts into a bit of a Chelsea song… in Martha Washington’s bedroom. I was slightly bemused by the whole experience, but I’m pretty sure this means soccer is just as American as apple pie. If Chelsea songs can echo through Martha Washington’s bedroom, in my opinion, we’re nearly there.


  5. Anyways, I agree with the column completely – one of the worst things us fans can do is try to put our “superior” knowledge of the game on show for those that are new to the sport. Gives them the wrong idea about the game, leaves a bad taste and feeds into the idea that footie is a game for un-American Eurosnobs who should be shot from a helicopter by Sara Palin.

    Let them get it completely wrong, just like Alexi Lalas. They can feel part of something while watching the world cup and realize that it’s actually totally awesome. It’s much better to function as a sleeper agent, tell them you’re a recent convert and drop a couple reason why you like it so much about it and tell them when the next big match is on in a non-chalant way. No hard-sell needed for a game that sells itself.


    • Posted by Aaron in StL on 2010/05/04 at 11:20 AM

      Agree completely. Sometimes it’s tough to listen to some of the buffoonery that some of those types come up with, but you just have to go with it. Mainstream acceptance really isn’t as important as widespread and easy access to the international game.

      As long as we can get more coverage here and the ‘Nats keep improving…I’d be happy. Could really care less if Hambone McMeathead is a ‘true fan’.


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