TAKING OVER THE WORLD'S GAME

Lance Zierlein: The World Cup and ugly Americans know how to "fix" soccer

Hey guys, let's fix soccer. Victor Araiza

Americans love them some America. Whatever we do is the best. Don’t believe it? Just ask us. We expect you to speak our language (even in your country) and many Americans would just as soon eat at a McDonalds abroad than than eating the local cuisine. I know, I know….not everyone is like that but there are enough to make that generalization and have it stick.

When it comes to sports, we are even worse. We rule and you suck because we have American football. We aren’t really into the World Baseball Classic like the Latin American countries and we barely even lift our heads when the U.S. Men’s Basketball Team ends up playing abroad - even in the Olympics. As a country, we tend to like things when they are on our terms when it comes to sports.

When it comes to the World Cup, there appears to be a growing number of American fans who are following matches irrespective of the lack of U.S. representation in the event. I’ve been all-in with the World Cup since 1998. I love the passion and I love the tension that builds during each match. I watch as many World Cup matches as a I can every four years and I wouldn’t change a thing, but you just know that there are a couple of Americans in a bar every night trying to make soccer “more watchable.”

“I KNOW WHAT WILL MAKE SOCCER BETTER”

Guy 1: Are you watching the soccer thing at all?

Guy 2: I’ve seen it when I flipped channels but it’s just too boring for me.

Guy 1: I’m the same way! There just isn’t enough scoring. If they had more scoring, I might watch.

Guy 2: What they need to do is add a 2 point line where if you make a goal from outside that line it counts as 2.

Guy 1: You nailed it! But I would also add a 3 point line too so teams have a chance to make a big comeback. How much more exciting would soccer be if guys were shooting goals from deep trying to make a 3?!

Guy 2: And they basically just play zone the whole time. Make them play man-to-man defense.

Guy 1: Also on the throw-ins I think they have to use two hands but you can’t throw it as far that way. They should allow people to just chunk it with one hand so they can throw it further down the field. Maybe you can make more fast breaks that way.

Guy 2: Oh, also all that flopping has to go. They should make it where if you get caught flopping you have to go to like a foul box or a penalty box for 5 minutes or more and the other teams gets to play with a an advantage. It would knock out flopping and we might get more scoring.

Guy 1: I hate that flopping and rolling around on the ground stuff. Unwatchable. If you act hurt then you have to stay out of the game for 10 minutes. That’s my rule. Those guys are wussies!

Guy 1: And they should allow them to set picks to get guys open. Way, way more scoring if they did that.

Guy 2: I was thinking about the 2 point and 3 point thing we talked about. I think we are going to have to make the goal bigger too.

Guy 1: Oh definitely. It looks super easy to keep the ball out of the net when I watch. Let’s make it harder by adding three feet on each side.

Guy 2: That’s a given. Every sport makes changes to make scoring easier and soccer needs to get on board if they want anyone to even watch that crap.

Guy 1: While I’m all for scoring, I also want to see more contact to toughen these guys up.

Guy 2: Are you talking about tackling?

Guy 1: Yes. I’m not saying have tackling all the time because that would keep the scoring low, but I want one guy to be the designated “hitter” and he can just lay people out once every ten minutes.

Guy 2: So that’s like 8 or 9 punishing hits every game then. That would be awesome! If they would do what we say, their sport would be so much better and I might even watch!

 

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Houston goes up 1-0 in the series

Altuve, Correa help lift Astros to ALCS Game 1 win over Red Sox

Carlos Correa's go-ahead homer in the seventh inning of ALCS Game 1 helped lift the Astros to a 1-0 series lead. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Despite one rough loss to the White Sox in the ALDS, the Astros looked like the dominant team they are capable of being, taking that series 3-1 to advance and taking ownership of home-field advantage in the ALCS against the Red Sox, who upset the Rays. In Game 1, despite trailing for the middle portions of the game, Houston would get more highlight moments from the faces of the franchise to start the series with a win.

Final Score: Astros 5, Red Sox 4

ALCS Series (Best of Seven): Houston leads 1-0

Winning Pitcher: Ryne Stanek

Losing Pitcher: Hansel Robles

Houston strikes first, but Boston sends Valdez to an early exit

Both starting pitchers worked in and out of trouble in the early goings of ALCS Game 1, starting with Framber Valdez in the top of the first. After erasing a leadoff single by inducing a double play, he went on to load the bases on a single and two walks but would strand all three runners to keep Boston off the board. The Astros jumped in front in the bottom half, with Jose Altuve working a leadoff walk, moving to second on a one-out single by Alex Bregman, advancing to third on a wild pitch, then ultimately scoring on a sac fly by Yordan Alvarez to put Houston ahead 1-0 after one frame.

They had a chance to extend their lead in the bottom of the second, taking advantage of a shaky inning by Chris Sale, who loaded the bases with one out as Houston would get two singles and a hit-by-pitch. That flipped the order over to the top, but a great diving catch by former Astro Kiké Hernández would end the inning. Hernández led off the top of the third against Valdez, and he would tie things up with a solo homer.

Things went downhill from there for Valdez and the Astros, as a one-out walk followed by a single gave the Red Sox the go-ahead run in scoring position. On a groundball that likely should have been a double play to end the inning, it would get through Altuve's legs, scoring a run and keeping the inning alive for Boston. They took advantage, getting an RBI double to extend their new lead to 3-1. Valdez would get one more out before Dusty Baker would give him the early hook, bringing in Yimi Garcia, who finished the frame.

A battle of the bullpens, Altuve ties it up

Like Valdez, Sale would also not make it through three innings, getting two outs while putting two on base before Boston would start their bullpen's night as well. Both sets of relievers settled the game down, with the Red Sox stranding two of Houston's runners in the third as well as the fifth, maintaining their two-run lead. After Garcia finished the third, Cristian Javier entered to eat up a couple of innings, and he would do just that by getting through two frames with just one hit, four strikeouts, and no runs.

Next, Phil Maton took over in the top of the sixth and erased a leadoff walk to keep things in striking distance for the home team. In the bottom of the sixth, Houston put another runner on base, getting a one-out single by Chas McCormick. Two batters later, with two outs, Jose Altuve provided yet another career postseason highlight, tying the game 3-3 with a two-run home to re-energize the Minute Maid Park crowd.

Astros take ALCS Game 1

Now a brand new ballgame in the top of the seventh, Brooks Raley came in to face three batters, getting two strikeouts while allowing a single before Dusty Baker would move on to Ryne Stanek, who would get the third out. With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Carlos Correa continued his march to a monster off-season contract, putting Houston back on top with a solo homer, making it 4-3.

Houston kept the script after Stanek with the new lead in hand, going to Kendall Graveman as the setup man in the top of the eighth. Despite a two-out single, he would get out of the inning with the lead intact, putting Houston three outs away from the victory. After a walk, single, and hit by pitch to start the bottom of the eighth with the bases loaded, Altuve would drive in his third run of the game, getting a sac fly to extend the lead to two runs at 5-3.

That insurance run proved pivotal, as closer Ryan Pressly was met with a leadoff solo home run by Hernandez, his second of the night for Boston, to make it 5-4. Pressly refocused and was able to get the next three batters in order, though, wrapping up the win to start Houston off with a 1-0 series lead and putting them three wins away from advancing to the World Series.

Up Next: The two teams will have a moderately quick turnaround, with ALCS Game 2 scheduled to start at 3:20 PM Central on Saturday ahead of NLCS Game 1 between the Dodgers and Braves getting the night slot. The pitching matchup is expected to be Nathan Eovaldi for Boston, who is 1-0 with a 2.61 ERA in his two starts this postseason, going opposite Luis Garcia, who had a rough outing in the ALDS for Houston, giving up five runs without completing three innings in Chicago.

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