June 19, 2010
By Charles Cuttone
Even for the World Cup soccer doesn’t stop
They say the world stops every four years because of the World Cup. Streets in the major capitals of the world are often deserted when the home country is playing, or fans are packed into plazas to watch games on giant screens.
The United States has in the past been immune to this lack of productivity for one month every four years. This year, however, fans have been gathering across the country to watch the U.S. play. Late night talk show hosts have been talking about vuvuzelas. National evening newscasts, normally devoid of any sports talk, have been reporting results and doing stories from South Africa, and in New York, where the Mets and the Yankees are playing a weekend series at Yankee Stadium, Friday’s 2-2 draw with Slovenia managed to crack the front and back pages of the city’s tabloids and the front page, yes the front front page of The New York Times.
After Friday’s controversial tie, it seemed everyone was buzzing about the game, the outcome, the inexplicable call by the referee. ESPN’s talking heads were yammering about it. Newspaper headlines across the country screamed about it, even fans at a minor league baseball game in Salisbury, Maryland were discussing it between pitches of an excruciatingly long game between the Delmarva Shorebirds and Lexington Legends.
Still, while the world, and now the U.S., may turn its eyes onto the biggest event in the sporting world, soccer in the U.S. doesn’t stop because of it. Far from it.
For the first time in its history, MLS is taking a break during the World Cup. Not for the entire month, but for a couple of weeks. So, what are MLS teams doing? They are adding exhibitions. The Philadelphia Union are playing their PDL affiliate, Reading United AC. Meanwhile the New England Revolution, who could barely field 11 healthy players before the league hiatus, played an international against Cruziero, as did the New York Red Bulls.
Coaches have convened in Atlanta for a licensing certification program. Part of their curriculum is watching the World Cup. Not a bad homework assignment.
But other than MLS, the soccer world in the USA has hardly missed a beat because of the World Cup.
WPS has a full slate of games, and teams this weekend are playing shorthanded because of Women’s World Cup qualifiers in Europe.
After a seemingly endless array of play-in games, the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup began on Tuesday. Illinois, Pennsylvania and other states will crown youth champions on Sunday.
So soccer doesn’t stop for the World Cup. With World Cup games beginning as early as 7am on the East Coast, it just means it starts a lot earlier than usual. That’s the only way you can get a night owl like me wanting to get up that early.