HOUSTON — Sitting here in a hotel room the anticipation was great.
There was nowhere to be until 5:30 pm when 60 members of the wife’s family were getting together for an overdue family reunion
Everyone but your trusty Scribe had taken the time to go to the Houston Space Center or the aquarium, but with Championship football to be played my plate was going to be full.
Although the day started with that other kind of football, futbul or soccer as we know it.
The World Cup’s first day of knockout games started with the United States taking on the Netherlands, winners of Group A which went 2-0-1 and outscored its three opponents 5-1.
On the other hand, the US slipped in with a 1-0 win over Iran. The US was 1-0-2 and scored the sum total of two goals but had given up just one. The Americans even tied Mighty England 0-0.
Saying soccer is not as big in the USA as it is around the world would be like saying Houston, Texas, has more people than Houston, Arkansas.
Soccer is a great sport, but it is still a participation sport more than a major draw in America.
The average salary for players in the US’ Major League Soccer is $274,466.
In the great world of soccer, a 5-7 forward named Lionel Messi makes about $40 million a year. Either he or Cristiano Ronaldo is considered the best player in the world.
Ronaldo, who is 6-2, and 37-years old, just had a nasty break-up with Manchester United, and it has been reported that he’s signed a deal with Al Nassr in Saudi Arabia for almost $200 million a year.
There are small countries that could run for years on that kind of money.
While it is an obvious fact that the USA is not a Threat to win the World Cup, none of those teams want to play an exhibition game of American football against the Dallas Cowboys. That would redefine the term one-sided.
Being just a mild soccer fan, light years from where I was eight years ago when the USA failed to qualify for the World Cup, it is a little curious that we can compete on the international level in the Olympics but not soccer.
Oh, and not that they are being missed, the Russians are not allowed to compete in this World Cup in any form or fashion.
It became clear from the start that the USA’s solid defense would not be enough against the Netherlands, which is very fast, very athletic and very aggressive.
It led 2-0 when the Americans scored their third goal of this year’s World Cup, but at the 80:44 mark the Netherlands scored again and the US was going to be knocked out, 3-1.
Obviously getting there is better than not making it, but three goals in four matches isn’t going to get you far against teams that live year around for the sport.
As usual, old world politics turned this into a power show when the day before the World Cup started, the powers of Qatar changed their Minds despite a written agreement to allow the sale of beer, which prompted Budweiser, a major sponsor, to say fine , we’ll give it away.
Players were not allowed to wear wrist bands supporting any type of freedom, and females attending the matches had to dress modestly.
Germany groaned loudly, but not for long because it didn’t make the knockout round.
Having watched about 15 matches so far, it is easy to see that this isn’t a sport with a bunch of folks running around in shorts and kicking a ball.
There are plays and strategies, and as in most sports the best team wins most of the time.
The US is gone, but yours truly will watch it to the end, especially after today when we are down to too many college football bowls and the highly anticipated College Football Playoffs.