Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Soccer Needs Its Own "McFarland, USA"

As far as inspiring team sports movies go, Disney's McFarland, USA is a heck of a movie. It pretty much presses all the right buttons. The underdogs rise up and win. And, they do it with dignity and grace.

There was excellent character development and the plot moved quickly.  A two-hour movie didn't feel too long and Kevin Costner did an excellent job portraying Coach White, the one who had the idea to start the McFarland high school cross-country running team.

There have been plenty of sports movies made over the years that have had the right blend of movie magic.  But, the ones based on true stories seem to have a little more grit to them.  This genre has brought us Remember the Titans, Hoosiers and Glory Road.  McFarland, USA joins this elite group.

The fight in McFarland, USA comes from high-school immigrant Mexican-American kids who harvested crops before and after school and still found time to practice their running.  They beat other teams that had much more comfortable lives.  It's an amazing story.

McFarland, USA reminded me of how much further soccer has to go to dazzle audiences in American movie theaters.

When's an awe-inspiring American soccer movie coming out?  Even baseball had its Moneyball and hockey had its Miracle.  Where is soccer's box-office success?

It might take years, but I'm waiting for the urban high school kids that choose soccer and overcome the odds to win a state title.

Soccer has had a few good to great movies (and one incredible scene from a movie).  I discussed a few of them when I wrote about a reboot on Field Of Dreams.

If it ever happens like the Jackie Robinson team that made us feel good for a little while when they won the 2014 American draw of the Little League World Series, soccer in the U.S. will have a breakthrough of sorts.

When inner-city kids start playing soccer in bigger numbers, the chances for a World Cup win will dramatically improve.  Unfortunately, for right now, most of those kids like the video game better than the real thing.

Originally published March 17, 2015

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