Most helpful critical review
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Great topic, yet tragically under-researched
on September 9, 2010
It's hard to knock Gary Hopkins for tackling such an ambitious topic - how the '94 World Cup really paved the way for the sport's success here in the States. But with that ambition, a tremendous amount of research, interviews, and critical analysis had to be undertaken to truly examine the idea and reach a sound conclusion. Unfortunately, Hopkins failed to accomplish little to any actual research, other than his own first-hand account of what the nation's soccer pulse was during his time in States as a marketing man and journalist.
Hopkins relies far too heavily on his own memories, and fails to support his ideas and conclusions with any hard evidence, other than an occasional rudimentary graph or basic statistic. By the time I reached the halfway point of the book, all I could do is wince at some of the generalities he kept feeding the reader (like how soccer isn't "Dad's sport" or how the nationa's soccer-playing kids will someday steer the U.S. towards becomeing a "true" soccer nation). To make matters worse, he bashes baseball and American football at the expense of promoting soccer, which clearly hints that the British-born author has no concept of the mindset or disposition of the American sports fan. The more I read, the more it became evident that this was no more than one man's personal diary of what he thought contributed to the success of soccer here in the States.
Of course, the icing on the cake is his unabashed praise for the Who's Who of American soccer, i.e. Hank Steinbrecher, Alan Rothenberg, Mark Abbott, David Downs, Sunil Gulati, etc, all of whom, in Hopkins' view, turned everything they touched to 24K gold. It's embarrassing, really, to see an author bend over backward to dole out the praise without a single scent of criticism (i.e. the many bridges burned by Rothenberg's orchestrated FIFA election as USSF President) or objective analysis.
All you need to know about this title is contained in the sterling reviews provided by Rothenberg, Abbott, Steinbrecher & Co. This book, from start to finish, is an ode these men, with supporting, severely-biased evidence provided none other than by the author himself. Do yourself a favor: skip this book entirely and read Filip Bondy's thoroughly-researched and impeccably-reported "Chasing the Game" for an authentic analysis of soccer in the United States.