Soccer Teams Give Fans Plenty to Watch, but Rest Is Important for Athletes

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By Fred Bowen
Thursday, September 3, 2009

It's football season, but I am not going to talk about the Redskins this week.

To the rest of the world, "football" means soccer. So let's talk about soccer, the beautiful game.

D.C. United: The local Major League Soccer (MLS) team is muddling through a mediocre season with 7 wins, 5 losses and 11 ties.

The problem is that United is playing too many games. In addition to the MLS schedule, United has played three games in the Carolina Cup and six games in the United States Open Cup. Add eight more games in yet another tournament and you have a tired team that may not make the MLS playoffs.

Playing too many games is a problem with some kids' teams, too. Some travel teams play a tournament almost every weekend, with kids playing four, five or even six games in a few days. Soccer is a tough sport. Any team, whether it's the pros or kids, has to get some rest to play its best.

College soccer: The University of Maryland men's team is the defending national champion. The Terps should have another strong squad, led by sophomore goalkeeper Zac MacMath, who led the nation in goals-against average last year.

Maryland and MacMath will have to be good this season because the Terps have a rugged schedule, featuring eight opponents that went to last year's NCAA tournament. The Maryland men begin their title defense Friday night at home against the powerful UCLA Bruins.

For kids who like soccer, college games are a great way to see the action up close. Maryland, Georgetown, American, George Mason, Howard and George Washington universities all have men's and women's teams. Check out their schedules and go to a game.

English soccer: More kids these days are following English Premier League professional soccer and wearing the league's colorful team jerseys. They can watch the games on ESPN and other cable channels. The English leagues have great players and some of the game's most legendary teams, such as Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal.

This season, I am rooting for the not-so-legendary Burnley club. In the 20-team Premier League, the three with the worst records at the end of each season are demoted to the second division. The three teams with the best records in the second division are promoted to the Premier League.

The Clarets, as the Burnley team is called, returned to the Premier League after 33 long years in the second division. Burnley even beat mighty Manchester United, 1-0, in an early match.

So if soccer is your game, there are plenty of games to choose from. After all, it's football season.

Fred Bowen writes KidsPost's sports opinion column. His latest book "Soccer Team Upset" has just been published.

© 2009 The Washington Post Company

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