In case you haven’t heard, the American Men’s National Team qualified for the World Cup last week when they beat their archrivals Mexico 2-0 in Columbus. I watched the game. It was exciting in spite of Landon Donovan’s terrifyingly distorted face. It is entirely possible that he frightened the Mexicans to such an extent when he looked at them that they became unable to concentrate on kicking the ball. At this point, that is neither here nor there. The point is, the U.S. team is going to the World Cup next year in Brazil which is the one time 20% of Americans tune in to watch soccer on television (75% never turn the television on to watch soccer, leaving 5% of Americans willing to watch soccer at times other than the World Cup every four years).
The good news for us 5% who enjoy watching soccer is that this year, NBC decided to purchase the rights to show the English Premier League in America, meaning that it is easier than ever to watch top quality football at a low, low price. You can watch so many more games than you ever could when the games were broadcast on Fox Sports Network. Even if you lack the NBC sports channels, you can at least watch one good game every Saturday. This Saturday’s matchup featured Everton versus Chelsea. If you have the NBC Sports Network, you can watch three other weekend matches, plus a Tuesday (or Wednesday?) evening game. I really hope you did not miss the hilarious Jason Sudekis promotions about this new development:
I still laugh every time I watch it!
When you add in the fact that it is now college football season (American, not English), you find that there is scarcely a reason to leave your house on Saturday in the fall. David and I watch soccer all morning and college football until late at night. We have forgotten about the monster weeds that have now consumed our yard because it is impossible to do anything on Saturday that doesn’t involve watching sports. No point in pulling weeds when they will just grow back, anyway.
Before you settle down on your couch to enjoy some Premier League, here are a few important pieces of information:
1. Caution: Once you watch the Premier League on a regular basis, you will never, ever, ever be able to enjoy an American Major League Soccer game again. Seriously, its like watching the Pee Wee League after watching the Premier League (I am pretty sure that the UNC Women’s Soccer Team is better than most MLS teams). Aside from the millions of dollars not subject to double taxation, I cannot figure out why Clint Dempsey wanted to come back to play in Seattle from Tott’num. First of all, I would even live in Tottenham over Seattle. Second of all, sure he may score 1,000 goals for Seattle, but how is he being prepared to face the international competition of the World Cup?
2. How do you decide what teams to cheer for? Since few of us Americans have ever had the privilege of living in England, we probably don’t have geographic ties to a team. I know a few Mormons that cheer for Liverpool because their ancestors came from that area. My ancestors came from all over England, so that doesn’t help me. So what am I to do? Well, this is my first embarrassing confession (but keep in mind this is a post written by a semi-clueless middle-aged American lady). My favorite team to cheer for is Aston Villa, simply because I love their colors, claret and sky blue (which still makes me think of Carolina Blue). Seriously, don’t these colors look great? No American professional teams has the guts to pick these colors:
Seriously, their kits are sharp. And they have great polos for other fan wear. Because their colors are so great, they have the potential to have some of the best dressed fans in the league. Look at this tie! I wish David was a fan of Aston Villa, because I would totally get him these cufflinks. I also love that they are an old team (one of the original founders of the Premier League) and have lots of history. Also, they do currently have an American goalkeeper, Brad Guzan, so that is more reason to like them (even if he has struggled recently). I generally try to cheer for teams that have American players, lest anyone think I am too much of a traitor to my country. So that means I will cheer for teams like Sunderland and Stoke City, even though they are pretty terrible. Everton has Timmy Howard, so in most circumstances, I will cheer for them. Second to having Americans, I also like the teams that have players from various African nations.
So that being said, the second football team that I like is Chelsea. Before this year, I mostly just cheered for Chelsea because that is David’s favorite Premier League team. What changed? Well it has something to do with this man coming back to Stamford Bridge:
Seriously, soccer coaches don’t get much sexier than Jose Mourinho (just do an internet image search and see what I mean). This is nothing new. I have written about this before. Now, he is back at Chelsea and all is right with the world. Unfortunately, if you are looking for attractive soccer players to decide what teams to cheer for, it is my personal opinion that there is a higher percentage of attractive soccer players in La Liga in Spain than in the Premier League. I will just leave it at that. Aside from the fact that Jose Mourinho is the coach at Chelsea again, he also has been reunited with Samuel Eto’o, which is from Cameroon, and is one of my favorite players (and one of David’s too since he formerly was on Inter Milan when Mourinho was the coach and they one the Champions League).
3. Manchester United is insufferable. I have a strong dislike for Wayne Rooney and his hair plugs. I always cheer against them.
4. Even if you don’t like to watch soccer, the Premier League is fascinating to watch just because it is truly impressive to watch all of the fans that know at exactly what moment to sing what song. The group chanting is impressive. I don’t think Americans could ever be that organized to have the entire stadium chanting the same thing at the same time without some sort of prompting from the overhead PA system.
5. Watching the Premier League is an educational opportunity to learn about English geography and regional dialects and accents. I like that.
6. When you watch the Premier League, you get to feel like a citizen of the world. All of those players coming from all of those different countries bringing with them fans from their home countries, well, it is a beautiful thing. Like I said earlier, it is the perfect warm-up to the World Cup.