Soccer experts, Ryan O'Leary from Bleacher Report and award-winning sportswriter Alan Abrahamson preview the first challenge in the World Cup for USA Soccer.
Ryan O'Leary:follow Alan: @alanabrahamson
Ryan O'Leary:but they're trying to gain a free kick, gain territory, etc
Ryan O'Leary:that's a staggering number
Alan Abrahamson:For soccer to make in the USA, however, I believe certain fundamental structural changes have to take place.
Ryan O'Leary:so it's up to Jurgen to deliver that
Ryan O'Leary:and your premise is flawed
Alan Abrahamson:Ah. You have hit the nail on the head.
Ryan O'Leary:oh, I know where you're coming from
Ryan O'Leary:we shall...but first, welcome everybody...please send questions and comments over
Ryan O'Leary:good point...Alan...lots of belief in the U.S. game as they prep for Ghana...Group G is open, huh?
Alan Abrahamson:We live in a bubble of our own making. Our history of international relations is isolation and then not, isolation and then not. Our sports history is largely games of our own making.
Ryan O'Leary:let's address some diving/flopping concerns first
Alan Abrahamson:Americans actually love the World Cup. Americans will watch the World Cup in huge numbers. Americans love big events.
Ryan O'Leary:Qatar is GOING to lose this bid
Alan Abrahamson:I'll give you a great example. Portugal plays down a man today after the red card. Thousands of Americans are asking -- why?
Alan Abrahamson:For the US -- if the Americans get by Ghana.
Ryan O'Leary:for some reason, people feel like soccer is an affront to football and the American way of life
Alan Abrahamson:I'm out, too. Thanks!
Alan Abrahamson:Let's get it on, shall we?
Alan Abrahamson:I am not bothering with the umlaut or the extra e. Slay me. Sorry.
Ryan O'Leary:one anecdote on that:
Alan Abrahamson:Well, going to the point of this Tawk -- this speaks to the nature of soccer around the world. And how it is what it is in a place like Germany. And how President Obama is, um, not in Brazil.
Ryan O'Leary:they still look at growing fanbases the old fashioned way...through TV, talk radio, etc.
Alan Abrahamson:Northwestern journalism school. You know.
Alan Abrahamson:Would love to make it regular, Ryan. Consider it done.
Ryan O'Leary:of course not
Ryan O'Leary:but that doesn't mean soccer can't gain inroads
Ryan O'Leary:I have another big issue with the soccer discussion as a whole
Ryan O'Leary:b/c they haven't take 2 seconds to educate themselves
Ryan O'Leary:then...NBC's deal with the Premier League is massive
Alan Abrahamson:Ryan, I have a question for you ...
Alan Abrahamson:Obviously, so much of the chatter in the last few weeks has been about Landon Donovan not being part of the team. Thoughts about that?
Ryan O'Leary:but, we can't sit off them and let them get creative
Ryan O'Leary:take that Northwestern!
Ryan O'Leary:interesting b/c we stole baseball from England (rounders)
Ryan O'Leary:with that...I'm out
Ryan O'Leary:having that amount of programming is amazing exposure...I know a lot of people whose interest increased this year
Ryan O'Leary:it's also an access issue...if it was on all the time...a lot of the ignorance would disappear
Alan Abrahamson:Though I have to say that the outcome of the Germany-Portugal game certainly opens things up for the Americans here today.
Ryan O'Leary:basketball was invented by a Canadian
Alan Abrahamson:Still, it would be a huge embarrassment for Portugal to lose to the United States. For them, that is. They would be explaining that from Lisbon to the Algarve and way up north, and for years to come. So there's that.
Ryan O'Leary:and then the leagues start up in mid August
Dave Benson:Portugal did us a big favor by getting trounced by Germany. Does this make us a little more optimistic?
Ryan O'Leary:Klinsmann wants to start something new here in the U.S.
Ryan O'Leary:Alan...this was fun...wanna make it a regular thing?
Alan Abrahamson:Disagree with you about that. They can be awful in 2014, and it won't matter. This is all about the long-term. They are building, building, building.
Ryan O'Leary:it's like comparing hockey players to Gretzky...it's not fair
Ryan O'Leary:and hockey is a game created in Canada by their aboriginals (which is the correct term in that country for their native people)
Alan Abrahamson:There is much about soccer that is difficult for the American mind to wrap around. Zidane's head-butt -- which we might argue was felonious -- is now celebrated in statue. Go figure.
Ryan O'Leary:and one interesting note...the World Cup could return here in 2022
Ryan O'Leary:remember, the people at FIFA have played the game for a long time...it's part of the culture
Ryan O'Leary:you don't need to always compare other sports to the NFL
Jeff Rose:Question: Iran vs. Nigeria. Who....cares?
Ryan O'Leary:just add the "E" instead
Alan Abrahamson:Which he knows. He and Sunil Gulati know they have a real opportunity.
Ryan O'Leary:Alan...I'll let you take Stuart's question
Ryan O'Leary:he plucks an Aron Johannsson
Ryan O'Leary:i still have an issue with the stigma factor
Ryan O'Leary:check the twitterverse at that time
Ryan O'Leary:it's a play for both
Alan Abrahamson:Also, the much-ballyhooed salary structure in MLS probably ought to be reviewed. It's the insanity of the transfer fee deal overseas that draws fan interest, obviously.
Ryan O'Leary:Stuart: you have to leave the American mentality when looking at this
Alan Abrahamson:And Ronaldo was a non-factor.
Alan Abrahamson:Great question.
Ryan O'Leary:took a terrible goal differential...will be missing two of their defenders against us and then Germany might not need to produce a full effort against us in the final game
Alan Abrahamson:This is one of my main arguments.
Ryan O'Leary:it does and then if you look at a potential round of 16 game...it could be Russia or Belgium...which is tough, but much less punitive than say an Argentina, Brazil or Italy
Ryan O'Leary:yep...but he needs to have a decent showing to get to 2018
Ryan O'Leary:in all other parts of the world (save for England) diving is seen as strategy not weakness
Ryan O'Leary:and by the way...soccer will benefit from football's ambivalence to mind player safety
Ryan O'Leary:yeah...that's strange...but do you believe that if we were a better international team and more of our players were worldwide stars that the interest would increase?
Alan Abrahamson:Also, besides the super-obvious -- more talented players in MLS -- I am all for a dose of EPL-style WAGs in MLS. I want People magazine-style drama in MLS. It needs lifestyle crossover appeal.
Tom Lorenzo:Tonight feels like a "must win" for the USA if they want out of this group. Is that true?
Alan Abrahamson:As if. But we continue.
Alan Abrahamson:Interesting. Because my own 17- and 15-year-olds could care less.
Ryan O'Leary:sure...but mainstream advertisers are myopic right now
Ryan O'Leary:but there is even MORE pressure to win vs Ghana
Ryan O'Leary:another great growth opportunity
Alan Abrahamson:Yet almost no one talks about college soccer. I never understand why.
Ryan O'Leary:24 hours is a lot to cover, so sure..they needed content
Tom Lorenzo:We should all only speak in hashtags, no? #USA
Ryan O'Leary:which you need...and good on him for doing that
Ryan O'Leary:alright man...most importantly enjoy the game and we'll talk soon!
Alan Abrahamson:What is it going to take, in your opinion, for the United States to win today against Ghana?
Ryan O'Leary:listen...if we start winning at this point...the game will grow
Alan Abrahamson:For one, the relationship between US Soccer and the MLS needs to be reviewed and, most likely, changed.
Ryan O'Leary:that's one thing we can agree on with Americans: they like the underdog story and they like winners
Ryan O'Leary:well...they delivered the answer with ease
Ryan O'Leary:totally agree on that note
Ryan O'Leary:it's going to be wet and humid there, so Ghana's speed with be slowed
Stuart Nadler:Will importing superstars from around the world actually work to make soccer more American?
Alan Abrahamson:Yes, in large measure Americans came from somewhere else. But then we all bought into this idea of becoming "American." And made these games our own.
Alan Abrahamson:Those were last year's numbers ... behind the WNBA ... yikes.
Alan Abrahamson:How many members of our (insert adjective here) Congress even have a passport?
Ryan O'Leary:but not everyone can have a Mizzou diploma on their wall
Alan Abrahamson:It's not because there is a massive market for viewers at 7 on a Saturday morning. We can both agree about that.
Ryan O'Leary:my children will not play football
Ryan O'Leary:Question: Iran vs. Nigeria. Who....cares?
Ryan O'Leary:David Villa coming to MLS...maybe Lampard?
Alan Abrahamson:Agree with that assessment totally.
Alan Abrahamson:A couple days ago, my old newspaper, the LA Times, ran a column that explained for readers "how to watch the World Cup."
Ryan O'Leary:umlauts need not apply here
Alan Abrahamson:Yes, absolutely.
Ryan O'Leary:nobody is asking them to stop loving football
Ryan O'Leary:do you know why?
Alan Abrahamson:I am always surprised how little attention is given to college soccer.
Alan Abrahamson:Here, as Sean Penn said so memorably in Fast Times at Ridgemont High -- make beaucoup dollares, and have all the advantages of living here, they'd come here like Becks and Posh.
Ryan O'Leary:but that's what Klinsmann is doing
Ryan O'Leary:works for me
Ryan O'Leary:they are so deep at every position and the one knock on them entering today was whether they had a true striker
Alan Abrahamson:Muller is, as I say, god. He is a force with which to be reckoned. Query is whether he will need to play by the time the US gets there.
Alan Abrahamson:We live in a country surrounded east and west by oceans. To the north is a country that's much like ours. To the south is a country with which we have a complex relationship.
Alan Abrahamson:You'll look good in purple Wildcat gear BTW
Alan Abrahamson:I agree with you about that. I hope soccer makes inroads. I have said, will say, will continue to preach from the mountaintops: I like soccer. I hope it makes it in the United States.
Alan Abrahamson:College football is the pipeline to the NFL.
Alan Abrahamson:Just a quick comment on ESPN's coverage, by the way. Why do they keep showing the beach scenes at Rio? The stadium where the US is playing is 1300 miles away. Just wondering.
Alan Abrahamson:No, obviously not. But it will raise interest in the MLS. Which is one sure way to help grow the game in the United States.
Ryan O'Leary:Portugal did us a big favor by getting trounced by Germany. Does this make us a little more optimistic?
Ryan O'Leary:that's not true...you ever seen the bar situation in New York City on Saturday or Sunday morning?
Alan Abrahamson:Like Villa, Lampard, and more -- but in the primes of their career. What if, say, a guy like Suarez played here? Or a bunch of dudes like that?
Alan Abrahamson:The only thing in their favor is an LA Kings-style (see San Jose Sharks, opening round Stanley Cup playoff 2014) comeback.
Ryan O'Leary:Klinsmann and Donovan do not like each other
Ryan O'Leary:from Portugal I saw a very weak support cast for CR7 and a team not mentally prepared and completely undisciplined
Alan Abrahamson:I don't deny that soccer has made inroads since 1975, and Pele. For sure.
Ryan O'Leary:yes...then mentally he was dejected and his body language toward the end explained it all
Ryan O'Leary:maybe the soccer mentality is too far off for Americans and it won't translate
Ryan O'Leary:Hey Alan
Ryan O'Leary:neither will say it, but it's clearly shown in between the lines
Ryan O'Leary:would you rather look at the rain forest or an industrial city or good looking women on the Copacabana?
Dave Benson:I'd love to see you guys Tawk about what an awful organization FIFA is the next time you host one of these.
Ryan O'Leary:video games
Ryan O'Leary:Pepe will not be able to play vs. #USA after receiving a red card
Alan Abrahamson:Excellent work with "punitive," my friend.
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Ryan O'Leary:things have already availed themselves for the U.S.
Ryan O'Leary:Missouri Journalism School - slightly older and better
Alan Abrahamson:The way it is now, US Soccer dictates to MLS. That'd be like USA Basketball telling the NBA how to do things. Hello?
Alan Abrahamson:For sure.
Alan Abrahamson:Ok, again ... go
Alan Abrahamson:The two main sports in the United States are the NFL and college football. Those two have sucked the air out of the room for pretty much everything else.
Alan Abrahamson:So -- what is that reason?
Ryan O'Leary:now we're talking
Alan Abrahamson:It doesn't. But to shake people out of their allegiance to, say, the Missouri Tigers (ugh), you have to give them good reason to do so.
Ryan O'Leary:this is a good transition for us actually
Ryan O'Leary:if you're insane enough to follow me: @br0leary
Ryan O'Leary:and Donovan is not that...plus he didn't like some of the diva moves that Donovan exhibited over the past 18 months
Stuart Nadler:Is there any reason FIFA shouldn't adopt the same policy they've got in England; a flop gets you a card?
Alan Abrahamson:Though, of course, one should not extrapolate from anecdotal information ... !
Alan Abrahamson:Do you think it felt the need to run a similar column about how to watch the Super Bowl?
Ryan O'Leary:I kid b/c I love
Ryan O'Leary:FIFA has created a massive appetite for the game worldwide
Ryan O'Leary:Portugal look weak
Alan Abrahamson:Again, clearly. And Klinsmann has made it abundantly clear that he is the boss and not to be trifled with.
Ryan O'Leary:I totally agree...that's why the diving/flopping is so hard for Americans to digest
Alan Abrahamson:Well, the MLS is on. And people vote with their clickers.
Ryan O'Leary:but Americans like sport...they like competition...they like good storylines
Ryan O'Leary:Germany/Netherlands 9 - 1 Iberian peninsula so far
Ryan O'Leary:people forget that Brazil is a very, very large company without the same ease of flight that we have
Ryan O'Leary:Germany is a tight group...they don't break down in their ranks at all and run a gameplan to precision
Alan Abrahamson:Dave -- Portugal looked awful. Muller is god.
Ryan O'Leary:why can't you watch both?
Ryan O'Leary:I interviewed midfielder Graham Zusi, who said he was a ballboy at the 1994 world cup in Orlando...now he plays against Ghana today
Ryan O'Leary:tv is a visual medium...
Ryan O'Leary:Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Ryan O'Leary:that's really the gist of it...plus the production cost to travel Brazil would be enormous
Ryan O'Leary:ask any kid under 16 right now what his/her favorite soccer team is...and they'll have an answer
Ryan O'Leary:I think you look at possession
Ryan O'Leary:yeah, but where did we all come from?
Alan Abrahamson:The issue is what happens the day the World Cup ends.
Ryan O'Leary:and Coentrao was carted off
Alan Abrahamson:Hard to believe, really, that a team supposed to be as good as Portugal could be as bad as Portugal looked today.
Ryan O'Leary:the issue is that people aren't celebrating the talent that IS still on the roster
Alan Abrahamson:Yes, everyone -- comments and questions welcome.
Alan Abrahamson:And I love the fruit baskets in front of Tirico. Nice touch.
Ryan O'Leary:we have to attack and let Michael Bradley dictate the play
Ryan O'Leary:I think it's an embarrassment for any European team to lose to the U.S. in soccer...it's the one sport they feel superior in
Alan Abrahamson:I will try to be gentle about this. New York City is not the center of the universe, contrary to the belief of the people who live there.
Ryan O'Leary:golf is SUPER slow...tennis is super repetitive...but we don't feel like it's a threat to our American football mentality
Ryan O'Leary:if ESPN stuck with it...you'd have the drama of the transfer window
Alan Abrahamson:My take is that Klinsmann is building for 2018. Anything that happens in Brazil is totally gravy.
Ryan O'Leary:why does it have to be one or another in terms of sports fandom
Ryan O'Leary:you like "punitive"? had to match felonious
Ryan O'Leary:except for luge that is
Ryan O'Leary:Hey everyone! Now it feels like the World cup is under way! Group of Death action finally here!
Alan Abrahamson:The NFL is the gold standard of all sports in the United States. End of argument.
Ryan O'Leary:but I'm not asking them too
Ryan O'Leary:why do Americans feel as if it's about being cool or that they have to knock the sport
Alan Abrahamson:But the culture works against soccer ever becoming truly mainstream. Football, Peyton Manning-style, is America's national sport. It is, and always will be.
Alan Abrahamson:Agree. A deep run by the US team will help as much as anything.
Alan Abrahamson:Great point.
Ryan O'Leary:so wait...what is American again?
Ryan O'Leary:he gets Julian Green
Alan Abrahamson:Totally agree. But it's not the American way. Look at the first Brazilian goal the other day. Set up by a completely lame penalty on a dive. But they got the call. So there you go.
Alan Abrahamson:In my latest column, at 3wiresports.com, I point out the discrepancy between college football and college soccer attendance figures
Ryan O'Leary:good for her..she's probably lending some defunct European nation a lot of money
Alan Abrahamson:Right back at you: @BR0leary
Ryan O'Leary:i like it...hockey and soccer rolled into one...Alan you're a man after my own heart
Ryan O'Leary:Americans need to get over that...quick
Ryan O'Leary:we have the infrastructure to "turn the lights on" and make a tournament like that work
Alan Abrahamson:Portugal looked weak, or they had an off-day. Essentially, though, they are already done. Here is an amazing stat: since 1998, only four of 46 teams have come back from an opening loss to get out of group play.
Alan Abrahamson:Hey, Ryan
Ryan O'Leary:football came from rugby
Stuart Nadler:Hey guys! I actually read BOTH of you, by coincidence!! Can you guys address the ridiculous flopping this World Cup please?
Alan Abrahamson:Not defending this proposition. Just explaining it, hopefully.
Alan Abrahamson:Geopolitics is a funny thing ...
Alan Abrahamson:The EPL deal is fascinating to me. Is it because there is a niche audience in the United States that wants to watch good soccer? Or because, in an age of multiplying cable channels, NBC has to fill airtime?
Ryan O'Leary:black and gold looks good on everyone buddy
Alan Abrahamson:I'll bite. Why?
Ryan O'Leary:alright...the floor is yours
Alan Abrahamson:That's what they said in 1994. Now it's 20 years later.
Ryan O'Leary:that's another Tawk for another day
Alan Abrahamson:Or the fact that Angela Merkel was there? Seriously ... she was there in person!
Ryan O'Leary:not going to hurt anyone?
Alan Abrahamson:So, again, at the risk of being obvious: what impressed you most, Ryan, about Germany? Muller's individual genius? Or their team play?
Ryan O'Leary:and beautiful world outside of our borders...you can appreciate other things
Alan Abrahamson:Go ...
Alan Abrahamson:The issue is whether soccer is American, right?
Alan Abrahamson:ESPN’s regular-season telecasts were down 29 percent, to an average of 220,000 per game, while NBC’s MLS audience fell 8 percent, to 112,000 per game — ranking the MLS behind the WNBA.
Ryan O'Leary:sorry Alan.
Alan Abrahamson:Also agree with that
Ryan O'Leary:for those of you who missed it...Portugal lost 4-0 to Germany...3 goals from Mueller
Ryan O'Leary:there is a big wide world outside of our borders
Ryan O'Leary:and FIFA have told the U.S. to be prepared
Ryan O'Leary:and why not appreciate it for what it is
Ryan O'Leary:amazing word
Ryan O'Leary:it would be like me asking you to take burgers and hot dogs out of your 4th of July celebration
Ryan O'Leary:Will importing superstars from around the world actually work to make soccer more American?