TAKING OVER THE WORLD'S GAME

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

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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Justin Verlander will start for the Astros on Friday night. Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images.

Houston Astros (22-28, third in the AL West) vs. Oakland Athletics (21-31, fourth in the AL West)

Oakland, California; Friday, 9:40 p.m. EDT

PITCHING PROBABLES: Astros: Justin Verlander (2-2, 3.97 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 26 strikeouts); Athletics: Ross Stripling (1-8, 5.19 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, 32 strikeouts)

BETMGM SPORTSBOOK: LINE Astros -170, Athletics +142; over/under is 8 1/2 runs

BOTTOM LINE: The Oakland Athletics begin a three-game series at home against the Houston Astros on Friday.

Oakland has a 21-31 record overall and a 12-14 record in home games. The Athletics have hit 65 total home runs to rank third in the AL.

Houston is 22-28 overall and 8-13 in road games. The Astros have a 13-4 record in games when they did not allow a home run.

The teams match up Friday for the fifth time this season. The Astros lead the season series 4-0.

TOP PERFORMERS: Brent Rooker has 11 home runs, 17 walks and 32 RBI while hitting .286 for the Athletics. Max Schuemann is 12-for-35 with a double and two RBI over the past 10 games.

Kyle Tucker leads Houston with 17 home runs while slugging .638. Alex Bregman is 9-for-38 with three home runs and six RBI over the last 10 games.

LAST 10 GAMES: Athletics: 2-8, .225 batting average, 5.25 ERA, outscored by 27 runs

Astros: 7-3, .272 batting average, 3.13 ERA, outscored opponents by 20 runs

INJURIES: Athletics: Esteury Ruiz: 10-Day IL (wrist), Darell Hernaiz: 60-Day IL (ankle), Alex Wood: 15-Day IL (rotator cuff), Paul Blackburn: 15-Day IL (foot), Joseph Boyle: 15-Day IL (back), Freddy Tarnok: 60-Day IL (hip), Luis Medina: 60-Day IL (knee), Sean Newcomb: 60-Day IL (knee), Aledmys Diaz: 60-Day IL (calf), Miguel Andujar: 10-Day IL (knee), Ken Waldichuk: 60-Day IL (elbow), Trevor Gott: 60-Day IL (elbow)

Astros: Oliver Ortega: 60-Day IL (elbow), Bennett Sousa: 60-Day IL (shoulder), Penn Murfee: 60-Day IL (elbow), Luis Garcia: 60-Day IL (elbow), Lance McCullers Jr.: 60-Day IL (elbow), Jose Urquidy: 15-Day IL (forearm), Kendall Graveman: 60-Day IL (elbow)

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