The U.S. vs. the World
He played the game overseas and experienced the culture, so Brian Dheel knows why Americans fail to embrace soccer like the rest of the world.
“It’s just a really big deal outside of this country,” he said. “Towns and cities shut down for big games. That’s all they do. That’s all they know.”
Dheel, the 31-year-old rear-tire carrier for Red Bull Racing Team’s No. 84 car, lived and trained with club teams in England and Holland in 1995-96 and played at the semi-pro level in the United States. He once coached high-school soccer in his native northeastern Ohio.
As the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing approach, all eyes are on the American men’s team, which has never medaled in the summer games. The women’s team, however, has won gold twice.
So why are American men so hapless in the world’s most popular sport? Dheel’s offering is that the U.S. doesn’t treat soccer like its international rivals.
“It’s completely different than almost everything over here,” Dheel said. “Over there, they come up with songs about their players. They come up with songs about the other team’s players. Over here, it’s more rah-rah when something good happens … blow a few horns. Over there, it’s almost like a festival during the game.”
America likes points, something soccer rarely delivers.
“I think you can have a scoreless game and one-nill games that are some of the greatest games you’ll ever see, lots of great defensive plays,” Dheel said. “America is more into the flash. I really don’t know if it’s ever going to be the No. 1 sport in America.”