OK, before I continue, I am just going to state that I am an American born and raised in Orange County, NY...but I am also a soccer fan who recently got into the game (after the last World Cup in 2006). So, onto the friendly debate...
1.) Lack of scoring: American football adjusts the rules periodically so that each team averages around 3 touchdowns per game. Basketball added the three-point line to encourage more scoring. Even traditional baseball has tweaked the rules to encourage more scoring. Solution: Make the Soccer goal about a meter (yard) wider
I think this is one issue that will never be satisfactorily settled as far as the average casual American sports fan is concerned and that is because our sports culture is very statistics-oriented compared with the rest of the world. We love our ERAs, homeruns, yards per game, field goal percentages....but you look at soccer and how many statistics do you see that people really pay attention to in the sport around the world? Sure, they record how much players run and such but otherwise fans are only concerned about who scored enough to win at the end of the day. Hell, the old Italian axiom is that a 0-0 game is the sign of no mistakes by either team rather then two moribund squads playing kick-about (then again, the Italians are out of the Cup). I understand why more Americans want to see more scoring and the World Cup has had a paucity of goals in the first round but there are club leagues around the world (such as Spain) where scoring is more prevalent...I think this "problem" is more cultural then an actual issue.
2.) Game clock: Every other sport uses a real-time live clock so viewers, and the players, can see exactly how much time remains in the game. But Soccer has the referee looking at his watch periodically to determine how much time is left. This is crazy. If a player is injured, the referee should simply stop the game clock. That's it! They do it in every other sport I can think of that uses a game clock. The mystery "additional time" added by the referee is nuts.
While I agree with your sentiment that "stoppage time" is confusing in the way it is currently implemented, I quite like the quirkiness of it. That said, the one thing I would change is that instead of having the referee doing the timekeeping, I would have the fourth official on the sideline handle it.
3. Number of referees: Soccer uses 3 on field and 2 off field. On a slightly smaller field, American football uses twice as many.
A hockey rink has 3 on-ice officials and 2 linesmen; soccer usually has a 4 man crew consisting of a on-field referee, two linesmen for offside calls AND for also calling infractions they see and a fourth official on the sideline who coordinates substitutions and also communication from off-field participants such as managers. FIFA has been experimenting with adding an official behind each goal for a total of 5 officials on the field...quite honestly, if you watch a lot of soccer, you will quickly realize that 4 officials is more then enough when properly trained. Soccer doesn't have an issue with the number of referees, it has an issue with proper training and quality of referees.
4. Faking injuries: The referees should review the game afterwards as they do in American football. When some it taking a dive and faking an injury, they should be suspended for 3 or more games. That would end that crap quickly!
Totally agree...I would be amazed to find a non-xenophobic fan out there who would disagree. It is amazing that in an age of slo-mo shots that players still get away with rolling around feigning injury as if they are trying to convince their parents they can't go to school! Within the last two years, I have seen more referees give cards for diving but without post-game suspensions I cannot see this problem being solved...which brings us to...
5. Instant replay: Why not have instant replay for questionable goals, off-sides leading to a goal or other game-changing events. Even traditional baseball now uses limited replays and is planning on expanding its use in the future. We simply don't like to see a game decided on an event that the referee could not see or called incorrectly.
OK, first, let's get to the reason this hasn't changed: tradition. See, you say "Even traditional baseball now uses limited replays" but how hard was it to get them to use it? Hell, even in baseball they only use replay on homeruns; did you forget last month when everyone except Jim Joyce knew that Jason Donald was out during Armando Galarraga's perfect game? Joyce would of loved to see a replay (including that it was a HISTORY changing call and it was the last out of the game) but he wasn't allowed due to traditional reason of not overturning "safe/out" calls on replay and MLB will not change the result despite having evidence. Tradition is a funny thing in that despite people knowing that something is stupid they will not change it because of misplaced nostalgia for simpler times...
That said, it is time for not only replay but also for goal-line technology in international football; first, there is a dedicated 4th official on the sideline already who could easily take a quick look and find out if a goal is valid if there is any dispute. Second, the issue of time being added to the game for replays is stupid since so much time after a goal is already taken up by celebrations and more time can be added on in stoppage time if a review is needed for a particular call...plus, how much time is being taken up by all of the "injuries" that players are faking? As far as Sepp Blatter's previous argument that replay technology isn't available to grassroot leagues...well, tell that to all the other sports who have embraced replays. And I am not just talking about American sports...cricket, rugby, and tennis are all international sports who have replay so what is soccer's excuse? Quite honestly, I think that previous objections to replay were rooted in anti-American sentiment since 15 years ago it was mainly American sports that used the tech but now days it is just idiotic not to have replay.
6. OFF-SIDES RULE: This one is my pet peeve. Why in the world is off-sides based on where the DEFENSE is? Why if the defense falls down or is stupid should the offense be affected? Plus, the "moving" off-sides rule makes it very difficult to correctly enforce. The referee needs to be looking at who is kicking the ball and at the same time, where the person(s) he is kicking to is located AT THE TIME THE BALL IS KICKED. In fact, the USA lost two goals in the first three games based on wrong off-sides calls. Solution: Use the approach used in ice hockey. Add two lines and enforce passes crossing two lines. Forget what the defense is doing, just don't allow two line passes.
I agree with you that the offside rule is arcane and results in more confusion but if you have ice hockey's system then I guarantee a lot of teams would just "park the bus" in front of goal and scoring would be even less then what it is now. With the current system, teams are encouraged not to drop too far back since the last defender determines the offside line...I think that more technology should be developed to help with offsides rather then drastically changing the rule.
OK, for my last 2 cents: most Americans find soccer boring not because of the rules or the scoring but because they have no context for the games they actually watch. We didn't grow up watching Everton vs. Liverpool, we don't know who George Best or Zico is, we don't care about the Kop or San Siro...we have a rich history in all of our major sports but never bothered with building one in soccer. The promotion of the World Cup as an event and the higher ratings show that Americans are slowly getting more accustomed to soccer and, while the sport will be a niche sport for decades to come, I think we are to a point where saying that "Americans find soccer boring" isn't even really fair to say anymore. I know plenty of people who love watching soccer here in Atlanta...they just hate watching MLS and Mexican League soccer.