Belfast Telegraph

Another giant leap for football

By Billy Weir

The Americans may be over-sexed, over-paid and over here, or there as the case may be, but there's no denying that they left the World Cup with a bang on Tuesday night.

However, the BBC is still wary of their credentials and made sure that there would be plenty of references to the Yanks not knowing what this soccerball is all about.

Gary Lineker began proceedings with a cartoon and overtones to Captain America, or Clint Dempsey to you and me, and it was called 'Supreme Justice in Salvador' although Operation New Dawn may have been more appropriate.

Yes, because soccer is now the new football Stateside, with Lineker, in an accent that was half-Louisiana, half-Leicester, stating that 'Herr Klinsmann and his men have captured the imagination of the American public like no soccer team before, y'all'. I made that last wee bit up but it seemed a shame that Hazard was playing for Belgium.

"In fact, this calls for a proper anchor," continued Gary. I've checked several times and he definitely said 'anchor' and with that big Ron appeared – Burgundy, not Atkinson – interspersed with Hulk Hogan, Barack Obama and even John McEnroe.

"Ever since I started watching football in the 70s, when Paylay joined the New York Cosmos, I've been waiting for football to explode in the States," said Pele fan Supermac. That's John McEnroe, not Malcolm McDonald.

"It might be 0-0, but you know, you don't need 200 points in a game to have fun," said commentator Steve Wilson, before handing over the anti-American soccerball baton to Lineker.

"As Steve said, I think that Americans might well be beginning to understand that sport without goals, points or runs can be gut-wrenchingly exciting," he continued.

"Sport is at its best when it's at its most excruciating to watch." Indeed, I remember when Gary used to present the golf.

It's well seen that they wait until big bad but really awfully nice Brad Friedel had gone back to Blighty, no doubt with a bag full of nylons, Hershey Bars and no morals, before hammering the Yanks.

It was rather cruel then that the opening goal came from Kevin De Bruyne, who we last saw as the wee lad in Home Alone, but despite a late come-back, the US of A were heading for home.

"It has been a star-spangled World Cup," waffled Woodrow, sorry, Steve Wilson, with Lineker concluding that Belgium had ended the American dream.

So, in Jerry Springer-style, what have we learned? Yes, the Yanks are getting to grips with football, although they may still be confused that other countries play in a world event, but until fans stop high-fiving each other they still have a way to go.

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