It’s true. It’s already been four years, and men’s World Cup soccer is upon us once again. If you think that the Olympics are the foremost event in all of sports, you’re sorely mistaken. Nearly a quarter of the world’s population, about 2 billion plus, are estimated to tune into this year’s World Cup, hosted by South Africa.
The 2010 World Cup will take place from June 11 – July 11. An estimated 715.1 million viewers watched the final match of the 2006 World Cup in Germany. To put that number in perspective, the 2010 Vancouver Olympics held an average viewership per event of 24.4 million, while the World Cup averages around 200 million viewers per match.
The World Cup is a 32-team tournament that begins with a grueling three-year qualifying phase. Once the field of 32 is set, and the tournament begins, a group phase in which teams compete for points by defeating or tying opponents within their given group takes place. Then a single-elimination phase follows. In group play, wins are worth three points, and ties are worth one. The top two teams in each group advance to the next phase, which is often referred to as the elimination round. Once teams reach this phase of the tournament, it’s win-or-go-home.
Due to the location of the tournament, most games will be televised fairly early in the morning here in the United States. Many games have kick-off times between 7 and 10 a.m. There are a myriad of local businesses including The Puck, Piper Down, and The Fiddler’s Elbow that will be opening their doors early for soccer fans to come in, take advantage of specials, and enjoy some big-time international soccer.
Traditionally, nations like Brazil, Italy, Argentina, France and England are the favorites in the World Cup. The U.S. men’s team has never won a World Cup.
“The U.S. men have no chance to go very deep in this tournament,” said SLCC’s head women’s soccer coach, Amanda Evans, who is a big fan of Italian and German soccer. “The Americans were recently beaten by the Czech Republic, a team that didn’t even qualify for World Cup competition. The Americans are talented, but still have a long way to go in terms of competing for the world title,” said Evans.
SLCC men’s head soccer coach, Enrique Velasquez has a slightly more optimistic outlook on Team USA. “I believe they’ll make it out of group,” said Velasquez, “I feel that the USA could even pull off a draw against their first opponent, England, which would give them momentum going forward. The dark horse in the group is a dangerous Algerian team that should not be overlooked.”
Coach Velasquez grew up surrounded by soccer in Guatemala.
“You wake up, football, at recess, football, lunchtime, football. It’s the culture in Guatemala,” said Velasquez.
Velasquez has been with SLCC for 22 years, and has a rich knowledge in the game of soccer. He played competitively in all levels of school and in the semi-pro ranks. Velasquez has coached for many years, and has seen just about every soccer situation imaginable.
If the World Cup gets you pumped up about soccer, there’s some great soccer action to catch right here on campus. Both the men’s and women’s soccer programs here at SLCC are expecting to be very competitive this upcoming season, and would really love more student support and attendance this year. All home games are played on the field west of the Lifetime Activities Center at the Taylorsville Redwood Campus.
“Due to scheduling conflicts, we only have four games at home this season, and then we’re out on the road for the next sixteen,” said Evans, “We really need the student body to show up strong for us, and help us make the few home games that we do have count.”
Evans and her squad will be seen in the Student Center, selling t-shirts to raise money for the brutal road trips ahead for SLCC Women’s Soccer.
“Most people don’t understand the kind of commitment these girls are making. They have summer jobs, classes, and lives to lead, along with practices, games and travel. We definitely keep these ladies busy,” said Evans.
The ladies of SLCC will be playing their four home games on August 7, 14, 22 and 24.
Evans is also committed to the sport.
“I spent most of my honeymoon four years ago watching the World Cup with my husband, who has a gift for the game as a player and has a brilliant soccer mind. He coaches with me, and we sort of have a good-cop, bad-cop approach at times,” said Evans.
For SLCC men’s soccer, there are a couple of key early season contests taking place. The team is traveling to Provo for a friendly match with BYU on June 22. SLCC men’s soccer has the unique opportunity of playing on Real Salt Lake’s home field, at Rio Tinto Stadium as well. They’ll be playing their season opener against the University of Utah at Rio Tinto on August 14, in a match that precedes an RSL game against the Columbus Crew. Velasquez needs to sell 500 or more ticket vouchers to this event, and greatly appreciates the support.
SLCC’s soccer club, in conjunction with Student Life and Leadership, are putting together some on-campus events at which students and faculty can watch World Cup matches, and purchase ticket vouchers in support of SLCC men’s soccer.
To note, these are club teams, and aren’t part of SLCC’s Athletic Department. As such, these teams are almost entirely self-funded. This makes your support both as students and fans even more paramount to the success of these programs.
Evans and Velasquez would like to thank everyone at Student Life and Leadership, namely Curtis Larsen, Peggy Hoffman, and also Norma Carr, SLCC’s Athletic Director for their support.