Feeble Pitch

Salt Lake City Weekly | April 19, 2005
After making Hoosiers and Rudy, director David Anspaugh could do gritty underdog-makes-good true-sports dramas in his sleep. So apparently he did, yawning his way through this account of how the 1950 U.S. World Cup soccer team--with only 10 days of practice before facing the powerful British squad--pulled off a “Miracle on Ice”-type upset. That partially accounts for a Miracle-type plot focusing on squabbles between players from soccer hotbed St. Louis and those from the East Coast, though it’s ironic that a story supposedly about soccer’s breakthrough for America casts Scottish, Australian and South African actors so they’d look remotely competent playing the sport. The culture clashes themselves are perfunctory, so watered-down that the only problem blue-collar St. Louisians have with a Haitian-born teammate isn’t that he’s black, but that he’s not Catholic. Anspaugh makes no effort to explain in sports terms how the Americans actually managed their historic win--and because soccer game action translates miserably to heavily-edited filmmaking, showing the match itself is no help whatsoever. It’s all about as exciting as the average soccer game to the average American sports fan. USA! USA!

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