Stars Gareth Bale of Wales and Christian Pulisic of the U.S. battle for a ball Monday in a 1-1 World Cup draw.
Photo by Maja Hitij – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images
The U.S. is great. Except for in the mellifluous realm of soccer, where the proper way to say it is the U.S. “are” great. Then again, nobody ever says that, because we Americans aren’t great at all — let alone exceptional — when it comes to soccer, aka un-American football, at least not on the men’s side. Heading into the World Cup that got underway this week in Qatar, our national team was ranked a modest 16th by FIFA, which, in case you didn’t know it, is short for Federation of Immoral Financial Arrangements.
Our lads drew 1-1 against Wales on Monday in their opening match of a quadrennial tournament the U.S. has (have?) never won. Brazil leads the way with five championships; Germany and Italy have four each; Argentina, France and Uruguay have two apiece, and England and Spain one. We’re still stuck on bupkis, but maybe this is our year?
“When Ford F-450s fly,” the rest of the world sneers.
If we’re going to shock the soccer world, those of us watching from home — or considering it — should at least understand what we’re hearing and seeing. To that end, here’s a hopefully helpful glossary of World Cup and general soccer terms.
Group stage: Initially, the teams are split into eight groups of four for round-robin play, with the top two advancing. Think of this as keeping track of divisional standings in baseball, only with slightly less ripping on the White Sox.
Knockout stage: It’s a win-or-go-home bracket of the final 16 and the only time fisticuffs are allowed. Remember that when some know-nothing says you can’t use your hands in soccer.
Stoppage time: Typically, it’s three or four additional minutes of nobody scoring goals after 90 minutes of nobody scoring goals.
Extra time: It’s basically overtime — but not sudden death — and happens only in the knockout stage. These are the most excruciating 30 minutes in soccer, not counting the “Beard After Hours” episode of “Ted Lasso.”
Source:: Chicago Sun Times