USA vs. Costa Rica in Denver March 22nd, 2013

Posted on Mar 24, 2013 in Colorado SoccerDenver SoccerUncategorizedUSA SocccerUSA Soccer

USA vs. Costa Rica in Denver March 22nd, 2013

A unique soccer experience in an exciting new USA soccer world!

I have been to a handful of International soccer games-including a few World Cup games at the Cotton Bowl back in the extremely hot summer of 1994. I have never had an experience like this one. No one in this country had ever experienced a soccer match like this in the US.

The weather was the most obvious difference, in fact this picture really captures the essence of the playing environment.USA Costa Rica Denver Colorado 2013

One of the things that made this so much fun to me was that it looked like a bunch of kids playing in the snow. Almost every American I know has had this experience a few times in their life. In fact, I started making snowballs and throwing them on the side of the field (most of the throws were out of bounds) not for violent reasons, but just because it is so much fun to make and throw snowballs!

Don’t discount the difficulty of winning this game. We were at least slightly favored by many, and believed by many to be the better organized if not the more skillful team. Messy conditions in many sports level the playing field and make it difficult to develop much of an organized style of play. I believe it took a lot of guts and effort for the USA to win this game, and I hope the Costa Ricans fail in their attempt to get the game replayed.

The other thing I noticed about the game that has changed since the first USA game I saw in 1987 is that the fans are so much better. The young fans coming up these days know the game better than the generations before them. This means that people are at the game to watch the game, not just to party, watch cheerleaders or a silly team mascot. No one around us sat down in their seats during the whole game-ever! We watched the game and cheered our team on for the 90+ minutes.

I have heard stats that say that adults aged 18-25 watch soccer more than any other sport-even in the USA. I have also heard that more people attended MLS games than they did NBA or NHL games last year. I have not done my fact checking to find out if those statements are true, but I have witnessed 1st hand the growth and maturity of the USA soccer fan over the last 20 years. I would argue it is much more organic, authentic and even enthusiastic than the old NASL soccer fans ever were as a whole.

I have been a professional soccer coach for 25 years, I played college, amateur and even a teeny bit of pro soccer: yet for the first time in my life I am enjoying watching the game on a regular basis. I used to only watch every 4 years as I went into World Cup Soccer hibernation to watch a game or two or three nearly every day for a month. I attribute this to the increased excitement and skill level of the top professional leagues as the rest of the world catches up to Brazil’s exciting style of play (I will never admit that anyone has surpassed it, even if Brazil’s national team is sub-par for them right now).

I attribute my enjoyment of the game to the maturity of the American soccer fan. For the first time in my life I can watch a soccer match and have an intelligent and passionate conversation about the game with someone other than my fellow soccer coaches and my son Tyler.

We all know soccer “arrived” in the US a long time ago. The prejudice against soccer by the generation before us who love their American football, baseball and basketball can no longer keep it down. It is indisputably a significant part of our nation’s culture, history and future that can no longer be denied-whether or not the USMNT ever wins the World Cup finals.