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June 16, 2013

Pro soccer will never catch on big with American sports fans

Quietly, professional soccer has been taking a blow in the last month. And deservedly so in my opinion.

While the Boston Bruins have been dominating the headlines with their remarkable run, and the Red Sox are enjoying a surprising start to the season, the New England Revolution has played some excellent soccer.

After last weekend, the Revs were much improved over a year ago and, with a couple of big wins under their belt, were a respectable 5-4-5.

But who has noticed? Hardly anyone as far as I can tell, and it’s understandable. Despite what people have been saying for over a decade, pro soccer will — for at least two reasons — never catch on throughout the country.

The first and maybe biggest problem is the lack of action, which was underlined for me once again in a recent Revolution-D.C. United game in Foxboro.

It wasn’t just that the game ended in a 0-0 tie. It was the total lack of action that struck me.

The Revolution goalie had to make just one save the entire game (and that came from 35 yards out!) while the United goalie made a whopping four stops. Moreover, neither team managed more than nine shots in the direction of goal.

I’ll admit that the players are skilled and there’s some fine passing, but it’s almost always in the midfield. Unless games start seeing more goals, or at least attempted goals, it’s not going to catch on.

For better or worse, most Americans like intense action and professional soccer isn’t providing that.

The other problem is that so many of the players are unknowns and hard to attach to. Many come from foreign countries in which we don’t know their background and have difficult names to pronounce and even the veterans are hard to identify with.

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