Some thoughts while I wait out the slowest sports day of the year…

* It’s fantastic that the United States women’s soccer team is in the World Cup final. Sunday’s come-from-behind win over Brazil in the quarterfinals will go down as one of the top finishes in the history of sports. Here’s hoping they win the title by beating Japan on Sunday.

Win or lose, just don’t tell me that this is going to usher in the golden age of soccer in the United States. They’ve been playing that song for decades, and the record’s scratched.

It didn’t happen in the 1970s when professional soccer expanded in the United States. It didn’t happen in 1994 after the U.S. hosted the World Cup. It didn’t happen in 1999, when the U.S. women won the World Cup on Brandi Chastain’s penalty shot, or after the men had a good showing in 2002, or any of the other times the soccer experts told us soccer was about to explode.

It’s not going to happen. Ever.

Soccer has reached it’s level in the United States, and that’s not a bad thing. As far as popularity goes, I’d put it on par with ice hockey, another sport a majority of American fans only get interested in when something big happens. We’re lucky to have a lot of entertainment choices. It will take a miracle, or the collapse of football, baseball, basketball, NASCAR, and the film and television industries to kick soccer any higher up the food chain.

Soccer is more popular than ever in the United States, that’s not up for debate, but that was a small mountain to climb, and certainly does not make the sport a national obsession.

Beat Japan on Sunday, Team USA, and your nation will cheer until it’s collective voice is gone. Then we’ll forget about you for four years.

* The second half of the baseball season is about to begin, and as it happens every year, this is the time when a lot of talk turns to possible trade deadline deals. What do the Boston Red Sox need? What player can they get that will be a difference maker in August and September?

A lot of talk has revolved around finding a power hitting right fielder to replace J.D. Drew, who appears to have retired a few months before his contact actually expires.

Offense isn’t the Red Sox’s problem, and it won’t be. A new right fielder is a luxury item. Right now, Boston’s biggest concern is starting pitching.

Because of a sore back, Clay Buchholz hasn’t made a start since June 16. Jon Lester went on the disabled list last week with a muscle strain in his back, and we don’t know when he’ll be back. Josh Beckett tweaked his knee, and you hope it’s not serious.

If any of those three pitchers is out for an extended period of time in the second half, the Red Sox absolutely need to spend their prospect resources on another arm. You don’t want to start seeing the phrase “staff ace John Lackey,” do you?

* I’m a football geek. NFL, college, high school, it doesn’t matter. I can watch football and talk about it every day.

Now that it’s almost time for NFL training camps to open, this lockout is finally getting to me. I want to study depth charts, not salary caps. I want to see who the New England Patriots sign to play wide receiver with Deion Branch and Wes Welker. I want to see how all the former University of Maine players do in the NFL.

I even want to hear what crazy things Rex Ryan has to say.

I’ll have my college and high school football, but without the NFL, it will feel somewhat hollow. I still don’t think the NFL will miss any games, but I can’t be the only one who misses all the stuff leading up to kickoff.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]


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