Nobody expected Barnsley FC to beat Liverpool last month, considering they were literally in different leagues. But after this afternoon’s 1-0 upset of another world-class team, Chelsea, Barnsley is now becoming the George Mason of soccer.
Keep in mind that Barnsley is not even one of the best teams of England’s “minor league” of soccer. They’re 18th in the euphemistically-named Championship League standings, and they’ve beaten teams currently 3rd and 4th in the Premiership.
Also, the mighty Manchester United took a tumble in the FA Cup quarterfinals, losing to Portsmouth 1-0.
It’s rather tough to follow soccer here in the States, especially since few of the games are broadcast on American basic cable. And when teams play all these different tournaments mid-season — FA Cup? Carling Cup? UEFA Champions? Zuh? — it’s really hard for us to pay attention. But with February and some of March being rather dull on the stateside sports landscape, seismic upsets like Barnsley over Liverpool and Chelsea can only help whet our appetite for upsets in the March Madness.
And to put Barnsley’s run through the FA Cup in some more perspective, imagine if college football had even more parity than it already does. Picture Ohio State, LSU, Oklahoma, and USC were always, always, ALWAYS in the top four of college football, and all championships in this decade were distributed between them. Then a team like — and I’m just picking one randomly out of thin air — Bowling Green comes along and stuns Ohio State and USC in consecutive months. That’s the kind of miraculous run we’re talking about with Barnsley.