Wednesday, January 26, 2022

America, ready for some soccer?



My aim in writing this column is not to convert you into an ardent soccer fan but to give you a little history and appreciation of the game, with a global, USA, and Marco Island  focus.  For more history of soccer, go to my previous columns at

In soccer footwear makes all the difference:

“Boot it”, a well known British expression basically means the act of forcing or clearing the ball away. The original soccer footwear was high ankle guarding boots (not cleats). A considerable change from the sleek multi-colored low cut boots/cleats of today. Also a far cry from Henry V111 King of England’s (1526) wardrobe, which included one pair of leather football boots.

Boots have developed just as the game has changed through time, and the biggest impact in Europe was in 1953 when the Hungarian International Team hit the soccer stage beating England who had been

Qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup shown in green on world map above.

Qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup shown in green on world map above.

boasting an unbeaten home record until that point. England was humiliated by the Hungary team (the Magical Magyars), captained by Ference Pusk’as who became a soccer legend. In the return game in Hungary in 1954, England was again humiliated with a 7-1 thrashing.

How did Hungary do it? The Hungarians introduced a completely new style of play to the game. The Hungarians also introduced a new low level cut boot or cleat, allowing their players maximum freedom of movement playing the famed “Hungarian W” attack. This revolutionized the game and influenced the style of the world champion Brazilian teams of 1958, 1962, 1970 and was many years ahead of the Dutch’s similar approach of “Total Football”. (See Wikipedia for more details.)

The World Cup 2010

The World Cup USA drew in their first game, (as I predicted earlier) against England, on June 12th.  The score was 1-1. Initially 205 countries took part. 172 teams were eliminated.

The World Cup

The World Cup

32 countries qualified. (By the way, according to the Daily Mail, an estimated 500 million  people will be watching the 2010 World Cup.)

Teams to watch

US, England, Ivory Coast,  Portugal , Argentina, South Korea and S. Africa and France, who play against each other on June 22.  (My wild card) Ivory Coast (Cote d’Ivoire): Capt. Didier Drogba is Africa’s best chance of qualifying to the final stages. Drogba won the UK Premiership League Golden Boot award scoring 29 premiership goals. Described as a “weapon,” not a soccer player.

The  USA v Turkey World Cup warm up game (in Philadelphia) on 29th May saw an excellent performance by the USA, coming from behind to win 2-1 through determination, graft, and good team work. There was incredible support from the 56,000 + spectators attending the game. Landon Donovan was outstanding in his unselfish assist lead to goal for Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey. The USA squad man to watch is Jose Torres.

Teams and coaches at Optimists’ End of Season Party. Submitted

Teams and coaches at Optimists’ End of Season Party. Submitted

Kids, please note: Torres is 5 feet 5.5 inches in height so it’s not always about “big is best“. It’s about having a soccer brain, speed, and a low center of gravity against the big guys. These are assets. Good job, USA!  Just a couple of observations: both Donovan and  Dempsey are effective mid-field. Forwards, this can leave gaps in mid-field if these players are over keen to get into the goal-scoring action. This led to Turkey’s goal–a break from a defensive situation leaving mid-field gaps. The USA will need to watch this. Apart from that they were brilliant.

Local Stuff

We have a quiet period now until the start of Marco Soccer Summer Camps. The Optimist Soccer Club held their end-of-season party with lots of food and a film show, and awards at Mackle Park.

Stop Press

City of Marco Island Parks and Recreational Department – Marco City Soccer Academy. For more information, call Mindy at 642-0575 or Coach Patterson at 642-3686

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