Soccer deserves a place in the United States (Opinion)

Otis Lyons, Sports Editor

The match heads into the final seconds of the game poised at 2-2. Needing a win to qualify for the Major League Soccer (MLS) playoffs, the San Jose Earthquakes’ goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell lofts the ball far into the opposing side, in search of a season saving game winner against   Minnesota United.

Victor Bernardez brings the ball down, and heads it on to Quincy   Amarikwa. Everything moves in slow motion as the fans, all out of their seats in sheer nervousness, lose fingernails as each second ticks away. Amarikwa shoots, but the keeper pushes the ball wide.

Chris Wondolowski scrambles to the ball, cutting it back to an onrushing Marco Urena.

Urena taps it past the keeper.

The stadium explodes in jubilation.

While the atmosphere inside the confines of Avaya Stadium in San Jose is utterly mental, many of the local communities may not have even realized that such a momentous event was occurring. If this were the Giants or the Warriors, it would be quite different.

America is unique in many ways. The apple pie, the First Amendment, and a political system so flawed that a racist grandpa can become president are all distinct attributes of the United States.

However, when it comes to sports, we are too unique. From the “World” Series to watching football after a huge Thanksgiving feast with your heavyset uncle, classic American sports have become a staple of life here. But these traditions are the minority when it comes to the global sports scene.

What about soccer? The game so often reserved for little kids and foreigners needs a place in the United States.

I have heard many excuses for the lack of soccer prominence here. There aren’t enough goals to make it exciting, not all games finish with a definitive winner, and the sport is for Europe.

Yet all of these excuses are bogus. The number one American grievance with the sport is the lack of scoring, but if the outcome of the match is going to be 2-1 or 1-0, when the winning goal is executed, the whole stadium will erupt.

As for the number of games that end in a tie, this is something that we can easily look past. In soccer, you receive three points for a win, one point for a tie, and zero for a loss. Allowing for ties opens the door for a much more complex and intriguing league system, something that could appeal to fans who enjoy an 11th hour shift in the standings.

For example, a simple win-loss record seen in other sports most likely wouldn’t have catered to such an exciting ending to the season like the ‘Quakes finale.

You may assert that this ‘excitement’ is worthless, since soccer is far away from home. But that is ridiculous — our national women’s team (the USWNT) is three time World Cup champions. The ‘Quakes are just over an hour away.

I took four of my friends to a few ‘Quakes matches this year, and even though my friends had never seen a match in their life, they could feel the buzzing atmosphere, unlike anything they had witnessed at other local professional events.

They all have different soccer experience – one is a varsity player, another played for a while, and the others had never played a game in their lives – yet in the end they came out of the match all smiles.

“The atmosphere was both intense and inviting, which was really cool,” sophomore Max Martin said. “I felt like I was a part of something, and soccer isn’t a sport I thought I’d ever feel connected with.”

The game had appealed to them in unique ways, and that is why soccer is great. Everyone likes sports for different reasons, and soccer can check all of those boxes.

Do you love rooting on a powerhouse and joining a winning tradition? Follow the Women’s World Cup in 2019, and cheer the USA as we attempt to defend our world title.

Do you love going crazy during the Drake-MC basketball games? Try chanting with the San Jose Ultras for an entire game, the ‘Quakes’ loyal fan base that serves as the equivalent of the student section.

Going to a soccer game can also be a cultural event; when two national teams come together, two different cultures clash, which can be a very appealing platform for a certain kind of viewer.

My mother took her parents to a match between the United States and Ghana a few months back. They were astounded and intrigued with how the game seemed to be as much about expressing culture as the actual soccer.

Although soccer isn’t the only sport with its own unique traditions, you will be hard pressed to find another sport that offers such diverse viewing. You won’t find 10,000 foreigners dressed in traditional clothing at a Warriors game, or a bunch of crazy, shirtless people jumping up and down throughout a dull nine innings of Giants play.

With soccer you will get a relentless, 90 minutes of excitement devoid of any commercials or elongated stoppages. Instead of the unforgiving combat of the NFL, enjoy the beautiful flow of soccer.