It would help, of course, if soccer were a little more like baseball. Wait! What I mean is that baseball is a more democratic game, decided more by the players than by the officials. Sure, the umpires call balls and strikes and outs, but they don't call fouls and penalties. They can't make a team play a man short because of something they thought they saw out of the corner of an eye.
I guess the biggest thing wrong with soccer, in American eyes, is that we didn't invent it. How can it be the world's most popular athletic endeavor, yet not only did we have nothing to do with creating it, but we're also (until now, anyway) not very good at it?
Now we want in on the big party, but we're getting an awfully late start. I don't believe we invented women's soccer, but it came around recently enough that we've already won a World Cup. That has to help. Besides, the women play with less whining and diving and pained expressions and pretending they're hurt. We appreciate that.
We are proud of our men's team, though, for winning an elimination game for the first time ever. The 2-0 win over Mexico was the first shutout for the U.S. in World Cup play since 1950, although it's slightly tainted by a missed call that announcers and commentators can't keep themselves from going on and on about.
And even if we lose to Germany, we have four years to work toward improving our game, and improving our attitude toward it. The next World Cup tournament is in 2006.