Paul: Just saw your insult to the World Cup. No wonder American popularity in the world is plummeting. I’ve first got hooked on WC soccer in 1974, when Poland eliminated England at Wembley Stadium in famous tie game to qualify for that year’s tournament, in which it finished third, barely losing to Brazil in the semifinals. The only thing Poland enjoyed more during the Communist darkness was having one of its own elected Pope.
Anyway, played the right way it’s a great sport; a huge field, the ball covering wide spans of space, players of great individuality making their mark, continuous flow, intelligent use of boundary lines. It’s too bad the U.S.’s coach was such a jerk after his charges lost to a sterling Czech team. Poland regained some of its honor against Germany yesterday after a pathetic opening game loss to deserving Ecuador. Right now I’d say Germany, Brazil, Argentina, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and maybe England are in the driver’s seat. But what do I know? We in the U.S. think of soccer as a nonviolent, flower-power alternative to real football, when in fact the real thing is every bit as tough and mean and demanding. And don’t forget what made Steve Nash a two-time NBA MVP — as someone noticed, he plays basketball like a soccer player.
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