Reuters Soccer Blog

World Soccer views and news

All and nothing for U.S soccer fans

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This weekend soccer fans in the United States will, as usual, be able to take their pick from scores of games, from all over the world, broadcast on television. The country has two soccer-only television channels – Fox Soccer Channel and Gol TV, as well as soccer providing sports networks such as ESPN and Setanta (still alive in North America) and of course Spanish language broadcasters keep the Hispanic communities well supplied with soccer from south of the border.So, from Saturday’s World Cup qualifying games, the U.S. based fan with cable or satellite could pick from Bahrain v New Zealand, Russia v Germany, Portugal v Hungary, Mexico v El Salvador, Greece v Latvia etc etc. Add in pay-per-view internet providers such as Omnisport and you can catch plenty more games from Europe and South America.There is one game you won’t be able to watch in America though — the United States’ penultimate World Cup qualifier away to Honduras on Saturday. If the U.S win they qualify for South Africa but amazingly the game is not available on television or (legally at least) on the internet.The bizarre situation has come about due to the decision of the holders of the rights to Honduras’ home games to sell the U.S rights to a provider of closed circuit television. The result is that if you want to watch the game you will have to find a bar or a club that has paid the rights fee and has the closed circuit feed. (A list of those venues is here)”We are certainly disappointed for our fans,” said U.S coach Bob Bradley, “We’re very fortunate that whenever we go anywhere there are passionate U.S. supporters wearing colors. Certainly the idea that this match is not on regular TV is disappointing for all of them, and we understand and feel badly about that.”The players at training camp this week have been careful not to speak out too strongly about the situation — rightly or wrongly the affair doesn’t look good for the U.S Soccer Federation even though they don’t have control of the rights to away games. But the players must be hugely disappointed to be battling for qualification against a talented Honduran team knowing that just a tiny fraction of their fan base is able to watch them.Some England fans have been up in arms about their team’s game in Ukraine only being available (for less than the price of two pints of flat London beer) on the internet. England have, of course, already qualified for the World Cup but can you imagine the outcry if that game was decisive and was not even viewable on the web?Of course, if soccer had a stronger standing in the U.S, the television networks would have fought for the rights to the game and outbid the closed circuit operator and the problem wouldn’t have arisen.While it is harsh to blame anyone in U.S soccer for an affair that is out of their control, the farcical situation is a reminder that for all the progress the sport has made in the country in the past decade there is still a long way to go before the game is truly mass market.But is there not a question for FIFA here? Should the sports’ global governing body not have a ruling that World Cup games at least be available on easily accessible television?  The only winners in this situation are a little known closed circuit tv provider – it can’t be good for the game.In the meantime, for this reporter in Miami, a re-run of Burnley v Birmingham City is about to start on Setanta and I’ll have to find out if that Honduran social club, 30 minutes drive away, is definitely going to be showing the U.S game….

Azteca defeat exposes U.S. weaknesses

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After a wave of optimism following their successful run in the Confederations Cup, the United States have come back down to earth with their 2-1 defeat to Mexico.

 

Although Mexico didn’t seal their victory on Wednesday until Miguel Sabah’s strike seven minutes from the end, the result actually flattered the United States who were outplayed at the Azteca stadium.

Twitter might not be harmless fun for players

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The days when the details of transfer negotiations were closely guarded secrets could be coming to an end with the advent of the ‘Twitter transfer’.

On Wednesday, U.S. national team striker Jozy Altidore all but announced a move to English Premier League Hull City on the micro-blogging site, keeping his fans updated while Hull remained silent.

Americans fall for soccer but can MLS cash in?

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The US national team beat European champions Spain in the Confederations Cup and give Brazil a scare in the final. In the NFL heartland of Baltimore, 71,000 turn out to watch Chelsea v AC Milan.

In Pasadena, Chelsea v Inter Milan pulls in 81,000.

David Beckham gets booed and jeered on his return for L.A Galaxy and the American sporting public laps it up – top sports talk shows, which usually ignore soccer other than to mock the game occasionally, lead their bulletins on the issue.

Brazil restore order by winning Confederations Cup

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The U.S. were 2-0 up at halftime and threatening another major shock before Brazil stormed back to win 3-2 and seal the Confederations Cup.

Goals by Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan had Brazil in big trouble but Luis Fabiano took his tournament tally to five in five games when he scored just after the restart and equalised in the 74th minute. Brazil captain Lucio completed the job when he rose superbly to head home an Elano corner six minutes from time.

Where does U.S. win over Spain rank in list of upsets?

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In the previous post, Simon Evans discussed where the U.S. go from here after their stunning win over Spain. Below Mike Collett looks at where the Confederations Cup semi-final victory ranks among shocks.

The debate is back on. Where does the United States’ shock 2-0 win over Spain in the Confederations Cup on Wednesday rank among the all-time great upsets.

A great win over Spain … now can the U.S surprise some more?

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The Confederations Cup, effectively a warm-up tournament for the World Cup, rarely captures the imagination but fans in the United States aren’t lacking enthusiasm for the tournament after their team produced a major upset by defeating European champions Spain 2-0.

Goals from Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey ended Spain’s world record run of 15 successive victories and their 35-match unbeaten sequence, a world record streak they share with Brazil. That run has taken Spain to world number one in FIFA’s global rankings.

In defence of Giuseppe Rossi

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American soccer fans aren’t noted for their nastiness but the reaction to Giuseppe Rossi, New Jersey native, scoring twice for Italy against the U.S in their 3-1 Confederations Cup defeat on Monday has been surprisingly vitriolic.

What has upset U.S fans is that Rossi was born and bred in the U.S. but chose to play for another country and then — to add insult to injury — celebrated when he scored twice against his country of birth.

Cuba v United States: don’t mention the politics

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U.S. players arrive in Cuba

The United States face Cuba in Havana on Saturday; the first time in over 60 years that they have played on the Caribbean island and given the political tensions between the two countries it is a fixture that has caught the imagination of the media — unusually for two countries where soccer is far from the national obsession.

The problem, for reporters, with stories like this is that the politics is the only really interesting aspect to the game but no-one involved will ever say anything remotely spicy on the topic.

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