[There are few books that have had a bigger impact on my thinking about sports than Soccernomics by Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski. With the World Cup heating up, it felt like a timely synopsis for our Book Review section. You will love it. 5 stars.]
The United States has been, historically, the most incompetent and ignorant soccer nation in the world. As illustrative, I would wager a significant amount of my admittedly rather meager bank account that less than 10% of Americans understand the offsides rule.
Despite these damning realities, and the outrageously poor performance of USMNT during its qualifying campaign, interest in the sport has never been greater. As the sport gains more mindshare, the chance to do some core thinking on key aspects of the game seems appropriately ripe.
Soccernomics is a superb read for any soccer fan ranging from someone that is new to the game to the grandest aficionados of the sport. It compares favorably to Michael Lewis classic Moneyball, using economics background to postulate insightful theories about the so-called Beautiful Game. Notably, in light of the events of recent days, its chapter on the mathematics of PK shootouts will feel timely and no doubt continue to feel relevant as the World Cup reaches the knockout round.
Soccernomics was updated just in time for this year’s Cup. It is an “absolute beauty of a strike”. It is also a bargain at less than $20 USD. We recommend you begin reading: the finals are less than a month away.