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Soccer in a Football World: The Story of America's Forgotten Game (Sporting) Kindle Edition
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I think this book should be WAY more popular than it is, but then again, perhaps "History of [baseball, football, basketball, etc.]" books aren't extremely popular or deemed authoritative to begin with. I certainly can't name (and have not read) a book like this about any other sport despite having closely followed all major sports (although I'm sure hundreds or thousands exist for other sports in the USA).
If you are an American soccer fan and want a detailed overview of its history here, this is the book for you, period.
There is the essence of this author. He's way too much of a purist about the NASL. He at least covered the NASL vs. MISL indoor soccer war which most books on North American soccer fail to recognize. His stuff on the MLS (Minor Lousy Soccball) which I fail to see the appeal of at all, helped fill in the blanks in my soccer knowledge.
One other NASL note. He whined about how the NASL hurt the development of American players. Then ignores completely that Canada in 1986 with a squad of NASL-trained players was able for the first time ever to qualify for the World Cup Finals. I get that the book is about soccer "in" America but he should have to talk about the Canadian-based teams in the various "American"leagues over the years given this.
I was also completely uninterested in the days of soccer prior to the NASL. It's "important" to know but just seemed to me like an Eastern US thing and not much else. It'd be like writing about the history of soccer in any non-soccer country and focusing in on local men's senior league teams. I found much of it totally irrelevant and boring as any nil-nil snoozefest.
Flaws and all, it's a soccer book worth picking up to fill in the North American soccer gaps not covered by Playing For Uncle Sam (by David Tossell).
That being said, at times the author gets too caught up in the nuts & bolts, jumping from historical anecdote to historical anecdote, to truly paint a coherent picture. There are lots of wonderful brush strokes, but no truly in depth picture of American soccer pioneers emerges. Obviously, the focus of the book was not autobiographies of a handful of soccer pioneers, but a bit more ink on the life of Lamar Hunt would have illuminated one of the biggest recurring problems - a professional sport needs owners to survive, but soccer only attracted quirky billionaires who viewed themselves more as prophets than franchisees.
Still, some of the historical tidbits are as funny as they are embarrassing - a good read.
The few issues I have with the book are that little attention is given to the women's game (roughly 12 pages in the 300+ page book), and it feels that Wangerin rushes through the post-1994 history, only hitting some major talking points of the 1998 and 2002 World Cups and some brief history of MLS. Also, very little is mentioned about the US Youth National Teams. I would also like to suggest that eventually this book be updated, since it ends around 2005. The back of the book mentions David Beckham's move to the US with the LA Galaxy, but the book ends its look at the sport in America before Beckham arrival.
With that being said, anyone interested in soccer in America should definitely check this out.
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This book is about our American game.Read more