You Watched and Maybe Even Enjoyed the World Cup – Now What?

Photo Credit: Tim Groothuis/Witters Sport via USA TODAY Sports

The Monday after the World Cup final is when most casual fans stop giving a shit about soccer.

Eagles training camp is 10 days away, the Phillies are rolling into the home run derby and All-Star Game, and some people actually go outside and enjoy the summer weather.

But if you found the World Cup entertaining and want to see more of the sport, there are a few ways to keep the momentum going into the fall:

1. Watch the English Premier League

The EPL starts on August 10th, so you really only have a little more than three weeks until the world’s most popular domestic league kicks off.

The great thing about the prem is that it’s very accessible, with games taking place on Saturday and Sunday mornings and existing outside of the typical viewing windows in which we watch American sports. For example, if you’re a 40-year-old parent with two kids, you can get up at 9 a.m. on Saturday, make your kids pancakes, and flip on Arsenal vs. Liverpool at 10 a.m. That then takes you into college football at noon and carries you throughout the day. Same thing on Sunday, when you can watch the Premier League as a lead-in to a 1 p.m. Eagles game or NFL Red Zone.

It wasn’t that long ago that foreign soccer wasn’t even on television, so people would get excited about the World Cup and then the interest would immediately fizzle out because there wasn’t a conduit to the next platform. We didn’t have big TV deals with NBC and ESPN and you had to pay for auxiliary networks like Fox Soccer Channel or Setanta Sports. That access we now have is HUGE, because there was a big black hole for coverage of the sport that existed up until about 10 years ago. It’s ridiculous that it took so long for this to happen, considering the fact that I can scroll through FIOS and find 900 channels of Kardashian re-runs and other assorted garbage.

will say that you don’t have to “pick a team” to enjoy the Premier League or the Champion’s League, but a lot of people seem interested in this. If you insist, please don’t pick the following teams:

  • Manchester City
  • Manchester United
  • Arsenal
  • Liverpool
  • Chelsea

Picking any of those clubs is like becoming a baseball fan and choosing to support the Yankees, or becoming an NFL fan and selecting the Cowboys.

Read up a bit on teams like Newcastle, Everton, and Fulham, historic clubs that usually land in the 5 to 15 range in the table, have/had American players, and aren’t gonna cruise to an easy title. Supporting those clubs does not make you a poseur.

I also recommend watching “Arsenal fan TV,” where angry Gunner supporters go crazy after losing games:

2. Buy FIFA

I used to work with a guy who hated soccer but played FIFA all the time with his son, so he learned a lot about the sport by playing with a variety of the 100+ teams available in the game.

FIFA is still the easiest sports game to jump into, mostly mindless and free-flowing without the need to call plays ala Madden or spend half the time scrolling through menus assessing the different statistics of each player. You can pretty much just plug and play, grab a couple of teams and start booting the ball around.

And if you venture into online play, you’ll probably run into a legion of 13-year-old kids rolling with Barcelona, but you’ll feel good about yourself when you beat ’em up with a lesser squad. The last time I consistently played FIFA, I used to destroy these jabronies with four-star squads like Lyon and Fenerbahce, which I think was a total slap in the face for them.

But FIFA is a great way to dive into the sport and learn the clubs and players while having some easy fun at the same time. There was also that time a D.C. United writer uploaded a picture of his cat into the player creator:

3. Go to a Union game

I know people kind of roll their eyes at the Union articles on this site, all five of them that comprise less than two percent of the 678 total stories I’ve written in 10 months.

And I know the Union have been incredibly disappointing since they were established as an MLS expansion team in 2010, but the only thing that really matters is that they are OUR team, and Major League Soccer is OUR league.

There certainly is a clear gulf in quality between World Cup play and MLS. The mistakes are more frequent, the skill level isn’t as high, and the game can be a harder watch. But you’re going to find this all over the world. MOST competition is not the same level as the World Cup, Premier League, La Liga, or Champion’s League. If you go watch the Belgian League or the Ukrainian League you’re gonna find shit teams below traditional powerhouses like Anderlecht and Dynamo Kiev and Shakhtar Donetsk. Top-half MLS clubs like Atlanta United and Los Angeles FC would probably be very competitive in Portugal or Japan or the Netherlands.

I think people need to take a step back and realize that MLS is only 22 years old. We have a soft salary cap, archaic rules, and a changing financial structure that really needs to modernize to catch up with the popularity of the sport. But we’ve also expanded from 15 teams to 23 teams since 2010 and attendance is up across the board. We’re making pretty significant strides here, and the quality of play will improve as more money comes into the league and underwhelming owners like Bob Kraft and Jay Sugarman either poop or get off the pot.

So go see a Union game, at least for the experience. Talen is a good time, a really nice stadium with great views. Ticket prices are reasonable. Maybe take your son or daughter down there or buy them a jersey. It doesn’t mean you have to give up being a football fan. Most Union fans were Eagles/Phillies/Flyers/Sixers fans long before Philly was awarded an MLS team.

I’ll sum it up this way: Americans shitting on American soccer does nothing to help American soccer. Our league needs to improve, but it doesn’t get better by ignoring it and saying it “sucks.”

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got. Short column.

Time’s yours.

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on email
Email

30 Responses

    1. Been a Fulham fan for 13 years. They are back in PL again.
      Picked them at random. My sister lived in London at the time and I decided to be fan of PL team closest to where she lived in Richmond upon Thames. Came down to Fulham and Chelsea. Thank God Fulham was a little closer.
      Don’t want to be band wagon fan of one of the big teams.
      Also at the time Fulham had several Americans including the great Clint Dempsey.

  1. Didn’t watch a single min of this boring AF sport

    No one cares about soccer in the US except for hipsters and transplants.

    52 days until the NFL regular season and counting

      1. The 0-16 Browns in 2017 averaged 63,882 at home.

        Canadian football has a higher average attendance than MLS.

        The only way to compare MLS attendance is if you try comparing them to NBA, NHL which are played indoors against sports that are capped at 16,000-18,000 due to arena capacity. Even then, college BASKETBALL at Kentucky averages 23,461 to MLS average of 22,113.

        I understand that tweet helps you pat yourself on the back by being deluding yourself into actually believing that one day soccer will be a major sport in the US, but youre woefully blinded by your own bias.

        If I were to ask the average american what sport Tom Brady, Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, Babe Ruth played, theyd be able to tell you. I cant (and wager to bet most couldnt) name a single MLS player, to have EVER played.

        Get real

        1. Who is comparing anything to anything? No soccer fan is out here saying the sport is equal to football, basketball, baseball, or hockey.

          You made a boring and predictable comment about “no one” caring about the sport in this country, which is simply not true.

          1. if youre going to add quotes, lets get the full sentence.

            I said: “No one cares about soccer in the US EXCEPT for hipsters and transplants.”

            might be a tab hyperbolic, but it isnt far off the mark in reality. Look no further than the stories on this website in the past year which have generated the most clicks. Id venture to guess that an MLS story didnt crack the top 50 posts this past year.

            I understand that it is the dead middle of the summer, the WC just ended too. I really do understand that.

            But this city, by a wide majority, does. not. care.

            save your article for the march-may of 2026 to try and drum up any hype for hosting a match in this city that summer (after the NFL season ends). That will be the only time people here may even bother faking interest

            1. “No one cares about soccer in the US EXCEPT for hipsters and transplants.”

              Again, that’s simply not true. Go down to Talen and look at the makeup of the crowd. It’s majority white families and native born, middle-aged season ticket holders. It’s really not that much different than what you would see at a Phillies game. The Sons of Ben, if you wanna label them the hipster/bearded millennial types, occupy MAYBE 15% of the stadium, which pulls around 14,000 on average (capacity 18,000). And parents with kids are fairly typical consumers; like I wrote, there are a lot of 40-something year old guys who turn on the Premier League on Saturday mornings and just add that to their routine. They aren’t replacing baseball or football with soccer, they’re just adding it to the rotation since it’s in a new and non-traditional time slot and their kids enjoy it.

              As for transplants, most don’t even necessarily watch the Union, but they go to Penn Park and Sofive daily to play pickup games and go to Fado and Misconduct to watch La Liga and the Champion’s League. There are plenty out there, but Philadelphia’s main soccer base is still the majority white non-transplant that has lived here for 15-20 years.

              As far as “stories on this website,” I think I’ve written maybe 10-12 about soccer of the roughly 700 that I’ve done since September. That’s less than two percent of my total output, so we’re not exactly flooding the page with the sport. I wrote about it for 8 years and I have 8,000 twitter followers who can follow links to this site. Some of those soccer people now read our Sixers stuff, ya know? But anyway, why would you use any sort of page view metric at Crossing Broad to determine the popularity of soccer here? This started as a “four major sports” type of blog and 98% of the content we do here is still football, basketball, baseball, and hockey. The soccer and MMA stuff I started writing hardly takes away from the meat and potatoes of what we do every day. If you want real numbers, ask Philly Voice to pull the stats of what I wrote for them, then compare it to the stuff written by Kempski, Lawrence, Hofmann, and Mullin. That’s more accurate, with a bigger sample size.

          2. Ha… Kevin, not worth battling these trolls. They are upset inside and need to write long responses defending a point about something being pointless….some people just want to watch the world burn….

            World Cup was fun to watch, love the minimal commercial breaks and action. Keep up the great work Kevin

            Since this now a thing….this is a dude from NJ and not a Kevin burner acct/Kevin GF/Family member. Just a dude who peruses comments from time to time, saw this tool’s argument against the post and needed to chime in cuz I felt like it.

          3. Anyone who is interested in the sport, probably doesnt need your help finding the premiere league or understanding that the union exist.

            This article is either preaching to the choir (people who already watch Premiere League/MLS), or addressing an audience that doesnt care. If the US had managed to even qualify then they might have drawn in the casual viewer.

            This isnt completely baseless: “The 48 group stage telecasts on Fox and FS1 averaged 2,069,000 viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research. That is down 42 percent from the 3.54 million average on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC four years ago and down 15 percent from the 2,429,000 average on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC eight years ago.”

            I understand that you think my comments are “boring and predictable”, but if youre hearing the same thing over and over from different people then maybe they arent out just to be trolls.

            and as for ‘How about yes’: sure you arent, find a new slant

  2. I did a fantasy world cup league with casual to non existent fans for $10 a team. Many of the people involved we’re surprised how much they watched the game and enjoyed it. I’ve been a fan all my life due to my immigrant parents, but I’ve noticed more people who were not fans are fans now. Besides, NBCSN, ESPN, and Fox would not pay tons of money to broadcast if no one is watching. I can walk into Dick’s and see Messi jerseys and I’m sure now that Ronaldo is at Juventus, I can find his jersey too! It may not become the NFL, but it could beat MLB or NHL over time.

  3. Kinkead, I used to play goalie back in the day (pretty mediocre if I may add) and I’ve been a Manchester United supporter ever since Van Der Sar became their keeper since he was my boy. Will you give me a pass for being a United fan?

    1. that would take your fandom back to 2005 or 2006, long before Man United was all over television here, so I guess you receive a pass

  4. I lived in England for a year about 15 years ago and caught the soccer bug then. I went to a UEFA cup match at Stamford Bridge (pre-Abromovich so Chelsea were garbage) but I fell, and remain in love with Norwich City (which is the town I lived in). They’re in the Championship again after a few yo-yo years in the Premier League. When I first moved back to the States, they were never on TV, but now ESPN+ carries the Championship so I get to see them a few times each year.

    I’m a loyal EPL viewer regardless and I might add that the Bundesliga is a good product and Fox does a nice job with their broadcast.

    And Kevin is right about the Union. I took my oldest down to the friendly vs. Frankfurt on Saturday night and it was a nice, fun, affordable night out. Talen Energy Stadium is a gem and on a warm summer night, it’s pretty damn perfect.

    Cheers, fellow football fans.

  5. Klinker spot on with this article. Great job here.
    all you stupid, fuck face neanderthal eagle fans can suck it.
    Its the most popular sport in Philly. Shut the fuck up, i wish i could spit in one of your pussy faces then take a long smelly leak on you.

  6. I enjoyed watching the Union but I rarely see them on tv anymore, their games arent on CSN? Why hate Arsenal? No skin in the game and I understand not selecting the other teams you mentioned, but Arsenal are sort of the English Flyers arent they?

    1. They are on PHL17 or 6ABC. And I was just having a conversation with someone yesterday that it seems like more of the Union games are being broadcast this year ie especially away games ,which is nice to see.

    2. Arsenal honestly were more like the Eagles during Andy Reid. Came close a bunch of times from 2005-2015, but had a head coach that stuck around a lot longer than he should have

  7. I can sit and watch and enjoy just about any sporting event. Golf and tennis when its the majors, Olympics, international soccer, Nascar(not a gear head at all; wife still cant figure out how I got hooked…..did have my little guy rooting for the 78 since us Jersey boys have to stick together), all 4 major sports leagues, college hoops and football etc. When it comes to Bundelsige or Premier League I just cant get into that much since I dont have a rooting interest. I did enjoy Leicester winning since it was such an underdog story,

  8. How is supporting Liverpool akin to jumping on the Yankees or Cowboys bandwagon? Never won the Prem and haven’t won a major trophy since 2012. They have one of the most innovative managers in the world and play the most entertaining style of football in the league. How is Tottenham not on the list of douchebag teams? Everyone spends money now, some clubs just have way more than others.

  9. The last time France was on the winning side was WWII. They needed us to keep them from speaking German.
    I remember 1980. The metric system and soccer were going to take over America. I’m still waiting

  10. If the point is to keep people interested in soccer, you would want them to pick from the big teams. Maybe not Man U but why decide to become a Watford fan and stop caring 5 games in. The big 6 is it’s own league and the goal is to get in the top 4. Has the exact same effect and you can actually watch every week and not have to give NBC $50.

  11. I saw the Croatia-England semi-final game accidentally (on vacation). It was actually great. The whole games are over in about 2 hours. Soccer used to bore me (but now baseball bores me), and I was shocked.. I still love all 4 sports, can watch our local games.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *