April 12, 2009

Following Soccer....on a Computer

A long time ago, when I was very young, I listened to baseball games on my transistor radio. At the time, very few games were televised and there were no personal computers to follow the world's events. My ear would be glued to the radio, waiting to hear what happened next. In the background, you could always hear the ticker machines, a ticker tape of what was happening in other games around the league. That was in the 1960's. Now, 40 years later, I feel like I have returned to days gone by.

With FSC covering just one game a week and with there being no local television coverage to speak of, WPS fans must rely on WPS Match Tracker and Twitter to keep track of their favorite team on the road. I relied on both for news of the Saint Louis Athletica/Boston Breakers matchup on Saturday night. Quite frankly, it drove me nuts.

I am glad that WPS has put something in place to provide in-game stats of all of their games. Their version of Match Tracker gives the lineups, statistics (both individual and team), and major events such as substitutions and cards. You can access individual stats via pulldown menus for each player. What you can't do is follow play by play. There is no ball bouncing around the screen from one side of the field to the other. Nothing lights up to show which player has possession of the ball. Statistics are kept up to date, which is excellent, but you really can't get a feel for what is happening with the match.

Therefore, you must combine what you learn on Match Tracker with Twitter, a running commentary by various Twitterers (or is that Tweeters). I can't even begin to explain Twitter. Heck, I don't even own a cell phone, but I gather that it is the basic equivalent of text messaging to the masses. Of course, you are then at the mercy of the person doing the tweeting. So if the person sending out the message gets excited and forgets to tweet for awhile, you don't get any information for long periods of time.

The WPS has made the revolutionary decision to allow players to use Twitter during their matches. Obviously, not players who are actually playing, since it would be darn hard to enter a message on their cell phone while going up for a head ball. Apparently, Saint Louis Athletica isn't going with the trend, as they do not appear to have any Tweeters (or is that Twitterers). What this means is Saint Louis fans must rely on Twitterers (or is that...oh, I give up) from the opponent's side, whether it be players or fans, to get their information. Hearing the joyful tweet of Boston scoring a goal isn't exactly what Saint Louis fans want to hear.

As for the game, I gather from the halftime shot margin of 8-1, that Saint Louis dominated the 1st half, much as they did against Chicago last week. The 2nd half started and all of a sudden, a tweet from the Boston Breakers, "GOAL!!!!!!". One too many explanation marks for my liking, almost like they were trying to rub it in. A collective expletive emanates from Athletica followers. What happened? Saint Louis had an 11-2 shots edge at that point.

Then, news of yellow cards came atwitter (I think I just made that word up). First, one on Moore of Boston, then one on Tancredi of Saint Louis, then one on Scott of Boston. Must be a rough game. And then comes the killer via Twitter, "GOAL!!!!". Heck, only four explanation marks this time. It must not have been as pretty of a goal as the first. More collective expletives from the Saint Louis faithful. Well, I couldn't actually hear them, but I could read and imagine them.

The final score was Boston 2, Saint Louis 0 on goals by Kelly Smith and Kristine Lilly. Like their first game, Athletica handily outshot their opponents 14-7, but came up empty. Boston improves to 1 win, 1 loss, and 3 total points. Athletica falls to 0 wins, 2 losses, and a big goose egg in points. Athletica gets a bye week next weekend to regroup. Boston goes to Washington to face the Freedom.

Thanks to WPS Match Tracker and Twitter for the updates, but I'm sure glad that I will be able to view 15 of Athletica's 20 games, either in person or on television. Until next time.....Tweet.....Tweet.