I just finished watching the Concafa Champions League match between the Crew and Real Salt Lake and noticed what I think the number one problem will be for an American audience. Believe it or not it is not 0-0 games. It will be the clock rules.
The match was an entertaining one by and large, particularly the first half when the Crew got some nice opportunities that they just missed converting. The second half was not as well executed but featured 3 red cards, so there was plenty of intensity.
So what was the problem for an American audience?
The Clock Rules.
The idea of the clock running no matter what is appealing in many ways, but I think American audiences would prefer it if the clock stopped in a few situations. So here is how the second half of that match unfolded.
A Salt Lake player draws a red card at about the 54 minute mark or so, takes about 1 or two minutes to sort out the card and for the player to leave the field, clock running.
18 minutes later at the 72 minute mark TWO more red cards are handed out, one from each side, that took at least two minutes to clear up, clock running.
I can't remember the time, but the Salt Lake goal tender takes a mostly fake fall (there was a touch of incidental contact) and lied rolling around on the ground for more than 3 minutes of match time, trainer on the field and all, ball not in play, clock running
Combine that with the goalie taking as long as he feels he can get away with every goalie kick (at least 20 or 30 seconds per) and all of the other rolling around on the ground injuries by salt lake players totaling at least 2 minutes (very conservatively).
All of that time wasted intentioanlly by Real Salt Lake after the Crew had the man advantage.
Total that all up and you have at minimum 5 minutes wasted but it was more like 10 in the second half alone out of 45 minutes of play. Extra time arbitrarily assigned at 3 minutes.
No Why Won't American Fans Like This?
Well, American sports fans expect their athletes to want to win at all costs, they expect them to take every advantage, legal or not. The rules in soccer do nothing to curb this nothing but clock killing behavior. In fact, the rules encourage it, you will gain a huge advantage if you can manage to not have the ball in play for long periods of time. And that is the crux of the problem the ball NOT IN PLAY part while the clock ticks away.
I like soccer, but never understood that. I like the continually running clock, but to discourage this intentional acts to slow down the clock soccer either needs to stop that clock if a trainer is required on the field while ball is not in play or there needs to be a better way to time ball out of play time to be made up in extra time.
Like I said, Americans like their athletes to cheat, we consider that a hard core win at all costs attitude, I just don't think we like when the rules encourage cheating that involves specifically the ball being out of play.
Alright guys, I don't believe I have to say this but, just in case, please do not submit anything racist, homophobic, sexist or otherwise not appropriate for even the younger Timbers fans.