Good Monday morning Caps fans. We are somewhat unbelievably halfway through June, which means we are (roughly) halfway to soccer coming back in the U.S. The EPL kicks off in the middle of this week, as does Seria A. La Liga has been back in action for several days now and thanks to a truncated schedule is set for basically nonstop play in the coming weeks. Life is good as a soccer fan.
The truth is this is probably as good of a time outside the World Cup to introduce your non-soccer fan family and friends to the sport. It is true that the lack of fans/atmosphere at the games, plus the penumbra of the pandemic more broadly, makes the sport somewhat less attractive.
But unlike MLB, NBA and NHL, soccer rarely provides the day-in and day-out immersion that is often needed to really hook newbies. That’s what makes the World Cup so appealing—the easy-to-understand format, the ease of rooting for your country of origin (unless you’re Canadian, ouch) and the raw passion on display all make it easy to pick up and enjoy even if you don’t quite know the nuances of the offsides rule.
But here we are, with a chance to replicate that moment, just with club soccer. And really there is a lot to like from a neutral’s perspective: a historic Liverpool side, bloody battles for European slots in England, Spain and Germany, a title race between the two La Liga heavyweights, some of the best young talent in the world in the Bundesliga.
Another plus will be relatively accessible TV times—EPL and La Liga will be having matches on as late as 4 pm EST/1 pm PST. This is later than usual—and that’s even before you think about NWSL and MLS coming in at the end of this month/next month. And because broadcasters are so desperate for content, the matches (with the exception of La Liga) will generally occur on channels you probably already get.
So we have an opportunity folks.
Sports fans who might have otherwise dismissed soccer are bored—no NBA, no NFL, no MLB. Yeah there’s NASCAR and golf but that doesn’t count. Some of these people don’t really *get* soccer, at least not yet. But the sport’s rich media world, everything from podcasts to Netflix shows, means it is easier to get in touch with the game’s beating heart than ever before. Everything from Sunderland Till I Die to The Football Ramble means you can be as engaged from Karachi and Kansas City as you are in Madrid and Liverpool and Buenos Aires.
Now is the time to “accidentally” leave a match on in the background, in full view of your roommates or significant other. Now is the time to drag your friends in front of the laptop to watch Alphonso Davies highlight packages. Now is the time to get your Bernie Sanders supporting friends into FC St. Pauli’s liberal bent. Now is the time to get people to stop saying “the MLS.”
Let us know the ways in which you’re getting your friends into the football. If you aren’t, it is something to consider. After all, we need the terraces to be as full as ever when this pandemic ends, a vaccine is found and we can return to the stadium. Soccer may be the most popular sport globally but there is always more room on the ark for a few more converts.
Onto some links...
Best of the Rest
The Whitecaps want you to drink beer. You know, for charity
Teams can have additional sponsorship on their uniforms for the upcoming Orlando tournament and I can’t wait for the Liga MX-esque looking kits
USMNT player Fabian Johnson appears likely to depart Gladbach for MLS in a matter of weeks when his contract lapses. A few teams are already interested
If you were in a cave for a couple weeks, our SB Nation brethren has a nice explainer on what to expect in Orlando