Quora Question: Should the U.S. World Cup Team Learn to Dive?

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DaMarcus Beasley complains after being called for a foul Laszlo Balogh/Reuters

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Answer from Christopher VanLang.

It's an interesting question. Flopping isn't really American.

I think that currently American soccer hasn't established enough of a footballing reputation to neutralize flopping. As many watchers of the sport know, flopping is more acceptable in certain leagues than others. In Italy, flopping is the norm and as a result, players know that they shouldn't be shoving as much. In England, the premiership is known for rough aggressive football and players know that they are better off trying to stay on their feet.

The same can be seen in Hockey, (I would use Ultimate Frisbee as an example since I have very good examples there, but not enough people know the sport). Canadian Hockey is known for being incredibly rough compared to the Nordic leagues. But, the international reputation of Canadian hockey gives them plenty of leeway in terms of the hockey that they are allowed to play.

We saw this in Netherlands-Spain 2010 and 2014. In the 2014 game, the Dutch accumulated 18 fouls but only 3 yellow cards despite de Jong bodychecking every 170 cm (5' 7" for those Americans) Spanish midfielder on the field. However, because of their reputation as a large, aggressive, hard-hitting side, the refs have adjusted their foul calling to contain that aggression but still allowing them to play that style of football to maintain the flow of the game.

You can see signs of this happening in the US-Ghana game in 2014. The US generated a lot of fouls and were making a lot of tackles. However, both their sportsmanlike habit of offering a hand to their opponents and their continued aggressive play prevented the Americans from accumulating yellow cards and the refs allowed a lot of 50-50 balls slide.

Importantly, for Americans to play their preferred style of aggressive hard-hitting football, they need force opponents to play the same way. This happens in Hockey (and Ultimate frisbee) quite a bit. When Spain forces Germany to play Spainish football, Germany loses. When Germany forces Spain to play German football, Spain loses. Diving is counter productive to establishing an American style of play and is frankly, un-American.

If every country had to play Association Football like the Americans play American Football, Americans would be pretty competitive on the world stage.

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