FIFA, are you listening? Thoughts on the World Cup

Ok, I admit it. I haven’t watched a soccer game since my kids got out of middle school, and that was a long time ago.

But one of those kids has become a professional soccer fan, and he convinced me to watch the United States team play in the World Cup, once we gained the group of 32 teams in Brazil. I watched the games in which we played, as well as the championship game on Sunday.

Having done so, I fully expect that the next soccer game I see will be in the World Cup in 2018 — if the U.S. team qualifies for the final rounds. I doubt I am alone, as professional soccer faces a long uphill struggle for acceptance by the American sports fan.

With my recently acquired vast knowledge of the sport, though, allow me to make a few recommendations that might help:

1. When there is an injury or other stoppage of play, stop the clock! As it is now, with “added time” nobody knows how much time is left, including the players. Of course, the downside is that networks will use this as perfect opportunity to start inserting commercials, so maybe this isn’t such a good idea after all. While I am on the subject, though, have the clock count down, not up – easier for the math challenged among us.

2. After 90 minutes, skip the “extra time” phase and go directly to the shootout. Alternatively, make “extra time” sudden death, American fans will like that.

3. Wear helmets. Some of these guys will not be able to think clearly in another 10 years, they get hit in the head so much.

4. If you collapse on the ground in agony and play is stopped, you must come off the field for 5 minutes. That will eliminate most of the tedious Oscar-winning performances as these guys try to draw fouls on everything.

5. Find a way to open the game to more scoring, like the NFL did. Maybe relax the offside rules.

I’ll check back in four years to see how many of these recommendations have been implemented. In the meantime, I understand that the Philadelphia Eagles go to training camp this month…….