MMCB: The Christmas gift that is European Soccer

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Good morning folks. I know we’re short on numbers at this time of year but I figured at least a few of you are stuck working on Christmas Eve and just might be looking to talk soccer.

I will post an Americans Abroad: Weekend Rewind before noon and may have a post on the latest candidate to join the race for the Chicago Fire coaching job, so keep an eye out for those things. For now I want to talk about Sunday’s amazing slate of European games and what it means on the grander scale.

If you watched Sunday’s games you had a chance to see the brilliance of Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Andrea Pirlo, Kaka, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Frank Lampard, Sergio Aguero, Ronaldinho, Ruud Van Nistelrooy, Carles Puyol, Samuel Eto’o, Robinho and Wesley Snjeider just to name a few.

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Think about that. Think about how lucky we, as American fans of soccer, are to see these stars playing in key games, and live no less. Imagine what it was like 10 years ago, when trying to see top-quality European soccer was a real chore. In short, I don’t think we realize how good we have it.

Imagine having to watch Italian channel RAI just to see whatever Serie A game it showed in a given weekend instead of the long list of games AND highlights show you can now see. Imagine if the only way you could see the best EPL matches was by trekking to a New York City pub?

Nowadays, we don’t have to rely on the writings of European-based journalists to tell us how special players like Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo are. We can see it for ourselves every week. We dont’ have to wonder just how intense derbies like Inter-Milan and Arsenal-Chelsea are. We watch the drama live (and on HD if we’re lucky).

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It isn’t just about the treat of seeing the best teams and players, it is about watching the beautiful game on the highest level. Watching as many of these games as you can will not only help you develop a strong foundation of knowledge of players, it also helps you understand the game on a deeper level. If you pay attention to things like tactics, team shape and player roles you soon begin to develop a greater understanding of the game. No, watching Fox Soccer Channel and GolTV non-stop won’t get you ready to be a professional head coach, but it will help you understand the game you love so much like you never have before.

I know, I know, some of you are labeling me a Euro-snob for putting the European game on a pedestal. I’m just being honest. Games like Arsenal-Chelsea, Man U-Liverpool, Inter-Milan and Real Madrid-Barcelona are played at the highest technical and tactical level the sport can offer. I’m not talking about bottom-feeders like Birmingham, Cagliari or Levante. I’m talking about the world’s best teams, which we can now see on a regular basis.

If you are an MLS fan and love soccer then how can you pass on the chance to see the game you love played at its best, by the world’s best players? I know it sounds crazy but there are folks who just don’t watch European soccer.

It shouldn’t have to be a choice between MLS and Europe. You can watch MLS AND European soccer. One thing that is helping is the growing numbers of American players moving to Europe and succeeding. It’s funny but players like Dempsey and Freddy Adu are drawing more American fan to the European game than stars like Messi and Kaka. Want to know the most popular European team in the United States? Try Fulham (at least among SBI readers). A struggling team in England is more popular than Man U, Barcelona and Real Madrid because of the four Americans currently on the books, especially fan favorite Clint Dempsey, who has been highly successful for the Cottagers.

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So what’s your take? Are you a relatively new fan of the European game? Are you an MLS fan who doesn’t spend much time following European Soccer? Do you follow both religiously. Tell us how you came to follow European soccer, or tell us why you don’t watch it. Share your thoughts below.

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