The Herald Bulletin

June 11, 2014

Rick Teverbaugh: Soccer sabotages itself


The Herald Bulletin

---- — Sometimes the lengths to which people will go to prevent international sports from catching on in the United States is astounding.

The most recent example I can use is when Formula 1 came to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to run the United States Grand Prix. What could go wrong? Apparently almost everything.

The ruling body started by setting new records for complete arrogance.

Secondly, they approved of using team orders to fix who would win and who would not win the race. Then they brought in a product that was so bad that the competitors refused to run. Thankfully, F1 is gone from IMS, and I hope it never returns. Many I've talked to feel the same way.

Now soccer's World Cup will begin today, and the powers that be have once again taken steps to sabotage interest in this phenomenon — only this time the undermining came from within rather than without.

The United States won't compete in this tournament until Monday. It will be interesting to see how many people watch.

Jurgen Klinsmann is the manager of the team. He probably knows the sport well enough to be coaching the team. But he apparently cares very little about getting the country behind the team. Sure, if they are successful and win the World Cup (200-1 odds of that happening), he will be hailed as a genuis.

My problem with him is that he cut Landon Donovan.

I don't know enough about judging soccer talent to say whether there are 23 players on that team who are all better than Donovan.

But Donovan is the most recognizable face in U.S. soccer and shouldn't have been cut.

For those who know no more or even less about soccer than I do, here's my reasoning:

There are 23 players on the U.S. team. During a match there are 11 players on the field (more appropriately called a pitch). During any match, three is the most number of players who can be brought into play. That means for every match there will be at least nine players who will be nothing more than uniformed spectators.

At the very least, one of them could have been and should have been Donovan.

I believe if this sport is to become anywhere near as popular here as it is in other countries, cutting familiar faces (and there are very few of those) isn't a way to build popularity going into this every-four-years tournament that is probably the world's biggest sports stage.

I wish the U.S. team well in this competition, as I do in every type of tournament on an international scale. But I wish someone was watching out for the possible popularity of the sport.

Sports Editor Rick Teverbaugh's columns appear twice weekly.