Americans, and conservatives in particular, like to rag on soccer.
Between Ann Coulter lamenting “scoreless ties” and calling soccer “excruciatingly boring” and Steven Moore saying he won’t watch the World Cup because it’s “B-O-R-I-N-G,” it would be easy to get the impression that nothing happens in a soccer match.
But those who watched this year’s tournament, and who look forward to Sunday’s final between Germany and Argentina, know that the 2014 World Cup was one of the greatest sporting events in history.
The tournament was bookended by the stunning defeats of old powerhouses: first the Netherlands took down the defending champions Spain in a 5-1 stunner, then in the semifinals Germany demolished the heavily-favored Brazil in an historic 7-1 match.
Those matches weren’t flukes; the game has fundamentally changed, with attack-driven, high-scoring matches now the new normal, the Wall Street Journal reported.
“There is no clear defensive strategy anymore,” France coach Didier Deschamps told the WSJ. “I remember a few years ago, there were some very boring World Cup matches. Not this year. Now it’s end-to-end soccer, it goes from one box to the other, and it’s really entertaining.”
Americans seem to have noticed: 2014 World Cup TV ratings skyrocketed more than 40 percent compared to the 2010 World Cup.
And Americans weren’t just watching because there were more goals scored at this tournament; they also watched for the drama.
Underdogs Costa Rica triumphed in a group that included England, Italy and Uruguay — all three nations that have previously been world champs.
The perennially-underpowered Americans fought through the “Group of Death” and goalkeeper Tim Howard emerged as a national hero during a desperate match against Belgium. (Note: despite the loss, Howard’s performance against Belgium was statistically verifiable as legendary.)
“This is the highest you can get,” James told the Associated Press. “This is bigger than the NBA finals in the sense that it’s the world and you have so many countries here.”
On Sunday at 3 p.m. EDT, the final two teams will face off.
The match promises to be anything but “B-O-R-I-N-G.”
Follow Zach Noble (@thezachnoble) on Twitter