We were planning on going all in with the US 2018 World Cup run. Now we need another excuse to gather together, paint our faces, drink, and chant ‘USA’ this summer.
I’ll admit it; I was looking forward to the 2018 World Cup. I enjoyed the run the USMNT made in 2014, even though it snuck up on most of us as a surprise. Like many others this time around, I was ready to go all in. Learn the team, get the gear, and be out at the watch parties in the stars and stripes shirt screaming with all the other fans. And then…well, you know what happened. US Soccer is still the same joke it was when America last hosted in 1994, despite soccer being ‘right on the cusp of breaking through’ in this country for the last two plus decades. Shocker. But as I thought about it, why can’t we all get overly patriotic (and drunk) over another international sporting event? What if I told you there was an international athletic event this summer that will end up being MORE exciting than the World Cup? In fact, I’d even say it’s The 2018 World Lacrosse Championship that you should get worked up about this summer. Here are 5 reasons why…
- The US is ACTUALLY GOOD
Saying the USMNT are the New York Jets or Cleveland Browns of soccer might be a bit of a stretch, but they are certainly in Detroit Lions territory; the occasional in and out of the playoffs but nothing more. US Lacrosse on the other hand, is a powerhouse. Their roster includes the best player in the world in Johns Hopkins grad Paul Rabil, and Cornell’s Rob Pannell, who graduated college as the NCAA’s all time leader in points. Those are just two names on a lineup full of NCAA All-Americans and MLL All-Stars. Now you might be saying “OK, so the US will just blow everyone out. Where’s the fun in that?” Well…
- Other countries are good too
Did you know that there is an American Football World Championship? Of course not, because its terrible. The US beats everyone 70-something to 3 in each round, even with heavy roster restrictions. Tough to market that lack of competition. That is far from the case in lacrosse. The 2018 World Lacrosse Championship will feature 50 countries, a record for the event. Many of these countries have been building up their national lax programs specifically to this point; this year’s edition (the WLC is played every 4 years) is the most anticipated in the tournaments history. England, Australia, and Japan are all expected to field top-flight teams. Perhaps the most interesting squad is the Iroquois Confederacy, which represents the Iroquois Nation as a separate country. Highlighted by the Thompson brothers Lyle and Miles, who were All-Americans at U Albany in the early 2010’s, this team looks like the Harlem Globetrotters of lacrosse, with dazzling ball control, behind the back passes, and trick shots galore. Bronze medalists in 2014, the Iroquois are looking to break into the top 2 this summer. Plus, I haven’t even mentioned the USA’s biggest rival yet…
- Our biggest rival is Canada
How perfect is that? Our neighbor to the north is our biggest competitor, and actually upset the US in the 2014 final, snagging the gold metal from the red, white, and blue. It is actually lacrosse, not hockey, that is the official sport of Canada, and their championship was taken as a point of major national pride. Coming off of a Winter Olympics that I’m sure will see Canada take gold from the US in hockey, this could be America’s chance for a little revenge.
- The Setting
The tournament will be held across the pond for the first time since 2010, with Netanya, Israel serving as the host. Israel itself will field a team for the second time, consisting of a mix of Israeli and Jewish American players, similar to the World Baseball Classic. If you didn’t already know, Israeli’s go hard. The atmosphere should be amazing for these games, and if you liked the Vuvuzelas of South Africa in 2010, you might want to check these games out.
- Lacrosse offers what soccer lacks
I probably should talk about the game on the field too, and not just the hype leading up to the tournament. The fact of the matter is lacrosse naturally should appeal more to the average American sports fan than soccer does. It is fast paced and high scoring, with team’s goal totals usually ending up in the low to mid teens. Add that to the physicality of hockey, and the poetic motion of basketball (especially from the Iroquois team) and you’re in for an exciting 60 minutes. Watch YouTube highlights and you’ll quickly see what I mean.
So what do you say? We were all planning on getting wildly patriotic and drunk this summer anyway… lets just revolve it around a team and sport that actually deserve it. Are you in? Or am I being ridiculous? Let me know in the comments below or tweet at me @The_REAL_Alex_B.
Written By: Alex Barth (@The_REAL_Alex_B)