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June 24, 2014

RONN MOTT: World Cup

I remember in junior high school, in physical education class, we were told to meet outside. The track and baseball diamond were in back of the school. We were met with a small, dimpled ball and the teacher told us it was soccer. It is played all over the world and you can use your head, your body and your feet, but not your hands. I decided then it was not a game for me.

I watched the USA come within seconds of defeating Portugal on Sunday. They did not. As the old saying goes, “close only counts in horseshoes.” It looked as if the USA was going to win, but with five minutes added on to the game the air was out of the USA balloon and Portugal scored a classic soccer goal. A kick to the front of the net and a charging Portugal player hit it with his head, and bingo — tie game.

I do not understand the points in victory and losing, but evidently this draw did not knock us out of future play though the teams we will have to play next will be better than anyone we have played to this point. Soccer is said to be a non-contact sport, but bodies are often lying about on the ground. Either they are hurt or they have “flopped” in an attempt to get someone from the other team “carded.” — another aspect of the game I do not understand.

On Thursday, the United States will have to play against Germany. The Americans must tie or defeat the Germans. Even my untrained eye would tell me the Germans are, at this point, the best team in the World Cup.

“Futbol” reigns supreme in almost any country in the world except the good ol’ USA. But I would say we have made great strides, especially when considering our best player was hurt. So, we have not lost out totally and we have played rather well, but “futbol” has a ways to go to be centered in the hearts of Americans. If our team continues to play well, it will help.

I’m not as confused as I might have been in the World Cup competition, but my lack of knowledge of the rules keeps me from being a die-hard fan. Anyway, Team USA, good luck the next time your feet get on the pitch.

See, I’m learning the lingo already.

Ronn Mott, a longtime radio personality in Terre Haute, writes commentaries for the Tribune-Star. His pieces are published online Tuesday and Thursday on Tribstar.com, and in the print and online editions on Saturday.

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