Five Wide Fullbacks: The World Cup Edition

Clive Rose

Five Wide Fullbacks is back and reporting for duty.

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1. As the 2014 World Cup comes to an end on Sunday with the championship game between Germany and Argentina do you think the United States has finally embraced soccer and that the sport is here to stay in a lasting way?

I think the sport has finally arrived in the sense that the floor has been raised and legitimacy has been given to the game. When my local radio station--which is typically allergic to all non-NHL or non-NFL talk--devotes as much coverage to the WC as they did you know things are different. There's likely no turning back now but that doesn't mean soccer has that high of a ceiling over the next 20 years.

Yes, there will be those who envision a continued rise in ratings and popularity but I'm not sure that's realistic over the next decade or two. Competing with the NHL is one thing, but the NFL completely another. A lot more consistency is needed to chase hockey and there's a very large gap with football.

We've all heard the arguments over the past month. America needs to keep building the MLS, develop more homegrown talent, and keep investing in the future. All noble goals, for sure. Still, the soccer boom in the United States is nearing 20 years old (hosted the World Cup in '94, MLS began in 1996) and in terms of raw talent the country is doing solid but not spectacular.

It's been really slow progress.

For example, the USA has played 26 World Cup games since 1990 and won 5 games. Over the past 3 World Cup's the program is 2-5-4. With better talent winning 5 or 6 games over the next two World Cup's would certainly raise the ceiling for soccer but I'll take the under on that bet. I don't think the game takes the next step without the entire country rallying around a true champion threat in the World Cup and it stinks the opportunity is only there once every 4 years. The Russian World Cup in 2018 with early morning start times will also test the popularity of the sport too.

Most of all, I think the sport will have officially arrived when we're no longer talking about how popular it is or is going to be in the future. We'll just know it is that way. We're not really there yet.

2. Die Mannschaft versus La Albiceleste, who you got?

Germany is the easy pick. But the easy pick is no fun. I'm rooting for Argentina because Messi is amazingly wonderful and I'm hoping he does something spectacular on the biggest stage in the world.

3. The freshmen jersey numbers have surfaced on the web. Which player is going to look good with their digits?

  • Kizer 14
  • Brent 11
  • Holmes 15
  • Weishar 85
  • Luatua 13
  • Byrne 67
  • Mustipher 53
  • Nelson 56
  • Bars 71
  • Blankenship 92
  • Trumbetti 98
  • Bonner 55
  • Hill 43
  • Williams 33
  • Hayes 93
  • Mokwuah 96
  • Cage 75
  • Morgan 5
  • Martini 48
  • Watkins 19
  • Tranquill 23
  • Newsome 85

Morgan wearing No. 5 immediately sticks out. I don't like Kizer in 14 but that's what he wore in high school so he's probably not changing. Tranquill and his muscles should look sharp in the two-three. I really like Cage in 75. That's more of an offensive lineman number that should stick out on defense. Williams in 33, yup I'm feeling that. It seems to fit him. Weishar in 85 makes a lot of sense. Watkins in 19 might be my favorite. I can see him as a returner in that number.

4. Although it's not confirmed nor official, USC may have slightly new helmets next year. You like?

Yes, I do. The chrome isn't overwhelming and does a good job of making the whole helmet pop. The red facemask hasn't been worn since 2000 and reminds me of the Keyshawn Johnson era. I'm actually surprised that USC hasn't re-branded the Trojan yet. When you look at the logo it could use some touching up so it doesn't look like a yellow blob from a distance. I always thought these helmets from 1992 were worthy of bringing back, as well.

5. LeBron James is heading back to Cleveland. Is it a good move for King James?

Of course it is! The cynic in me says he just walked away from another team but does anyone really feel bad for Miami fans? Pat Riley has 8 NBA Championships to his name. Eric freakin' Spoelstra got a pair of rings. Dwayne Wade has 3 titles and will take his career earnings near $200 million as the Heat let him drag his carcass up and down the court for a few more years. Ditto for Chris Bosh (1 less title though) who will definitely go over $200 million once he signs a new contract.

James' return to Cleveland is a great story, the roster is young and talented, while the Eastern Conference still looks quite easy to roll through especially if Melo doesn't go to Chicago.

I'm interested to see just how good LeBron can be as he creeps towards his 30's. He's no spring chicken anymore and has played 2,474 more minutes--nearly a full season--than Kobe at the same point in their careers. Is there more than 5 years left in the tank as an elite player?

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