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Trying to Embrace the “Beautiful Game”

These are good times for American lovers of soccer…a/k/a futbol….a/k/a “The Beautiful Game.” 

Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann of the United States
Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann of the United States (Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

Their sport, the most popular in the world if you don’t count the United Sates, is taking center stage during the World Cup and earning headlines on a regular basis.  Thousands of Americans have made their way to Brazil to root for the red, white and blue and many, many more flock to bars and restaurants to watch the games with fellow soccer fans and those like me who are very much into the event. 

With the popularity of youth soccer continuing to grow many believe soccer is finally taking root here in the USA and it’s ready to explode.  Well I’m here this morning to tell you it’s not.

The World Cup is the Olympics of soccer as it takes place every four years and gives you a sense of national pride you don’t often experience when it comes to sports.  How many of you watched bobsledding and freestyle skiing this past winter during the Olympics and a better question is how many of you watched either of these events after the games. 

Kentucky coach John Callipari with Kevin Williams at the Water Street Grille in Toms River
Kentucky coach John Callipari with Kevin Williams at the Water Street Grille in Toms River (Kevin Williams, Townsquare Media NJ)

I’m not looking to compare soccer to bobsledding but hopefully you get my point. I have been gripped by World Cup fever but when it’s over have no plans to follow the MLS with any regularity.  It’s not just the sport that captivates us but the significance of the event….I mean this is like the Super Bowl every day.  A big part of the excitement has been the play of the U.S. team which has advanced to the knockout stage or round of 16 in which you advance with a win and get sent packing with a loss. 

For our guys that begins Tuesday against Belgium, a game in which the Americans will be the underdogs but have a very decent chance of winning.  If they do the “fever” will continue but once they lose then most of us will turn our attention back to baseball and other sports.   Sorry but that’s just the way it is.

Couple of quick items.  The new patio bar at the Water Street Grill has become a popular destination for those in the Toms River area and making a stop yesterday was Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari, who would later attend the NBA Draft in Brooklyn.  I happened to catch him there and we ended up walking out together when someone yelled “Calipari, you suck.”  Welcome to Jersey.

Manchester Township High School has hired Bill Furlong as their new head football coach.  A 1983 Jackson Memorial graduate who later played at Ursinus College, Furlong had been the head coach for the last 11 years at Phoenixville High School in Pennsylvania.  He succeeds Gerard O’Donnell who coached the Hawks for 7 seasons before stepping down this spring.

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