How many goals can you name that were similar to each other this World Cup?
The answer is none.
I've seen a home run on a 3-1 fastball to left field more times than I can count. I see a slapshot from the blue line beat the goalie blocker side plenty. Leaning three point shots from the corner? Every game. Fade route touchdown passes for 70 yards over the middle? Likely once a week.
I've never seen a player do what Arjen Robben of the Netherlands did when he took a four touch dribble down the right sideline only to cut it back to the middle between three defenders and strike it hard with his left foot and low to the right side past the keeper for a goal.
I've never seen a goal like Landon Donovan's first against Slovenia where he literally muscled it by the keeper into the upper netting to swing the momentum back in the U.S.'s favor, only after he made a great run down the side of the field to even put himself in a perfect passing position for the through ball.
Nothing in soccer is ever the same twice, which is reason number five it is the best sport in the world.
Reason #5: Uncertainty
When you put 22 players of different skill and fitness on the field, it's easy to see that the ball will never play the same way. Some players have an amazing first touch and can settle 30 yard lob pass on a dime in front of them. Others use their speed after their first touch fails them and they end up with the ball several feet away, only to close on it in the blink of an eye.
I know what you're thinking, "Soccer is always 1-0 or 2-1, that's not unique."
It's not the score, it's how you get to the score.
No touch, no pass, no shot, no foul, no corner, no free kick, no penalty kick and no 50/50 ball is ever the same twice. Just watch one game and tally what moments even look similar. Very few.
That's what makes soccer so great, you never know what to expect because everything is so different. Couple that with reason #2 that soccer is the best sport and you're hanging on every moment, not knowing what will come next.
How many times have you seen Kobe Bryant dribble to his right and spin back to his left, fading away from the basket and hitting the shot? The predictability of the skill in the NBA is sickening because players like Kobe will always get their's. I'm not taking away from their phenomenal talent, but I am saying it does produce a yawn through the first three quarters when I know how and how much Kobe will score. Same with LeBron, same with paul Pierce. These guys have their methods and they're the most talented at what they do, but it's predictable.
How many times has Albert Pujols knocked in an RBI to the opposite field? How many times has Roy Halladay struck batters out with his splitter? How many bases has Ichiro stolen?
Other sports, while they feature some of the most talented athletes in the world, many of them are predictable.
Just watch one day of soccer, World Cup or not. Every goal is different, every save is different, every touch is different, which makes them all the more exciting and amazing because of their unique talent showcase.
Now, if you aren't an avid soccer fan and haven't watched very many games to make an educated opinion on how unique every touch is, here are a few examples:
How many of those were similar? You know the answer.
Not just how the goals are scored, but who scores them. Did Clint Dempsey score in the World Cup? No, but he has put some amazing shots in the back of the net in the past. Same with Lionel Messi, arguably the best player in the world, hasn't scored for the heavily favored Argentinians. There is no guarantee that a player will get a chance, no matter how talented. It's the uncertainty of how the 22 players on the field mesh that determines unique and uncertain outcomes in every match.
It's not guaranteed team will get a cross into the box twice, nevermind a good cross, nor from the same position or if you'll even have players in the right position to receive it. No guarantee of a good spot for a free kick, no guarantee of playing with all 11 men the whole game, no guarantee the goalie will dive the opposite way of your shot on a penalty kick.
So much uncertainty makes every moment special and every game something new and interesting to watch. So many variables makes it a work of art when they come together.
And it is that uncertainty that drives Vegas mad. There are no true favorites, anyone can score at anytime. The U.S. found that out first hand this World Cup.
Hey, that's a pretty good reason soccer is the best sport in the world too, because favorite Brazil just got kicked out of the tournament... But I'll save that for next time.
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