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Friday, June 23, 2006

Yankee Going Home - Again

It's all over for the USA soccer team in the WorldCup. All the hype, all the blogging, all the ogling of hot World Cup fans has come to an end. For the USA. Of course, 16 teams have moved on, and true soccer aficionados will continue to watch with interest.

I hope the soccer fanatics in this country are as upset as I am about the Americans' performance. An 0-2-1 record, only two goals, a listless loss to the Czech Republic, and a loss to unheralded Ghana. Of course, as John Stewart said in last night's Daily Show, "There's no shame is losing to one of southwest Africa's least malnourished nations."

This World Cup was an unmitigated disaster for the U.S. team, and it's a disgrace. I'm not one of these ugly Americans who think that everything in the world is ours due to our birthright. But I do believe we have the best athletes in the world here. We have tremendous resources, love sports, and a huge population of people whose heritage is from the countries where soccer is the number one passion.

I remember in the early '80s how soccer was going to be the biggest sport in this country. That never happened, but just about every kid plays it, and that's been the case for 20 years. Where are the 25 and 30 year olds who were part of soccer's original boom here? I know it's the top sport in most European and South American countries, and sure, if Dwyane Wade, Vince Young, and Derek Jeter chose soccer, we'd probably be taking home the World Cup. But I find it hard to believe we can't find 20 players among the almost 300 million people in this country to be competitive on the world stage. The U.S. women have been able to do it.

I'm not saying the U.S. should win every World Cup, or be in the finals every year. But there's no reason we shouldn't be a player in most international tournaments. Failing to make the round of 16 should be equivalent of Michigan having a losing season - it should happen maybe once in a lifetime. Unfortunately the U.S. soccer team isn't the Michigan of international soccer. We're more like Arizona State. Sure, we qualified for the World Cup, and the apologists will say that's an accomplishment. Kind of like ASU making the Insight Bowl. I think the U.S. should be able to do better than the Insight Bowl.

8 comments:

King of Ducks said...

you can't compare asu and the us world cup team. ASU has an offense. us world cup team didn't. 2 goals in 3 games, and one wasn't even scored by them, they needed help from italy.

side note- 4 shots on goal in 3 games, pathetic. brazil got 20 shots on goal just today against japan

Reed4AU said...

You can't compare the men's team to the women's. Women's soccer hasn't been around for nearly as long, so America's program is equal to the rest of the world's if not bigger.

America will get better as more Americans play at higher level leagues throughout Europe. The MLS is to Europe's 4/5 main leagues as Arena football is to the NFL. Sure they might be able to play at the higher level, but the level of competition is so much greater that one will quickly be able to tell if they belong there. Sure soccer has become bigger in the U.S in the last 20 years, but before 1990 our team hadn't even qualified for a world cup in 40 years or so. There are teams who have qualified for all or nearly all of them since its inception. A national team who earned a World cup berth from Europe or South America played much harder competition in qualifying. America plays in CONCACAF with only one major "power" Mexico.

In the future as more Americans go across the pond to play at a higher level we will become more competitive at the World Cup level. Yes I realize that a few of the current squad play in the EPL and the Bundesliga, but compare that to Brazil whose starters all play for major teams in major leagues.

FIRE Bruce Arena!!! They are called substitutions dumbass!! When you see that Mcbride is tired put in Eddie Johnson for a change of pace.
America's next coach will be a foreigner and he will bring in a different strategy and knowledge of the game that will help get them to the next level.

trojan mike said...

VIVA ESPANA

Anonymous said...

Our failure to be competitive can be tied directly back to one thing...money. Beginning in little league, everybody knows that if you want to make any money in pro sports it certainly won't be in soccer. Hell, most universities don't have a men's soccer team (thanks title 9). The bottom line is that the US Soccer program attracts 3rd tier athletes. Our best people went on to play football and basketball (sorry baseball) where all of the money is. Imagine if the best athletes in the US trained from 3 years old dreaming of making it big in soccer. If that were the case, we would dominate those Euros in 10 years.

Disclaimer: International soccer players are some of the best athletes in the world. I agree it is a tough and demanding sport.

Anonymous said...

I don't think soccer will ever be as popular in the US as it is everywhere else. The US has no patience for 0-0 ties in a sport that doesn't even accurately track the official time off of the field. How stupid is it that the game clock stops at 45 or 90 mins, yet play continues until called on the field?

What doesn't happen in soccer is more interesting than what does. All you talk about after the game is missed calls, missed shots, off-side calls, dives, etc. This half-ass sport will never capture our national imagination.

Papa Steve said...

I tend to agree with nearly everything said, but would add the following:

The U.S. won't be on a par with European or South Am teams until we have a system in the U.S. where kids play at a higher level early on and get better coaching early on and throughout their career. Only then will we produce a greater number of players that are even qualified to play in the better foreign leagues. Once we have a much greater number of players at that level, only then will the level of play in MLS get elevated. It may never happen, given the lock the major leagues have on the media outlets in this country. i think that has as much to do with the average American's lack of interest as do the particulars of the game. Once people in the U.S. get used to the tension and release of a low scoring game, i think they could shine to it, if only as a break from the score a second specatcles that other pro sports have turned into...i.e. baseball id much more offensivley focused than it used to be, lower pitching mounds, harder packed balls, etc. etc.

I do agree that until kids here get some exposure to the kind of money, fame and god-status that foregin players enjoy, that we will constantly miss out on the creme-de-la-creme of athletes. I have an 11 year old nephew that is really talented at soccer, but keeps pushing himself into basketball b/c that is what his friends are into and it sux b/c he really is too short to excel at it. I am close to getting him on a plane and taking him to the UK for some games to give him some idea of what would be in store for him. It isn't really that I would expect him to play there, or professionally, I am just MUCH happier with the thought of him playing a sport he is good at and NOT emulating those jackass gangsta NBA thugs.

Papa Steve said...

the u.s.a is a lot like a Big East team that gets itself into a BCS bowl. Technically they deserve to be there, but everyone knows they aren't likely going to go far.

As a team, the U.S. depends on playing very well and getting a few breaks to have any success in the World Cup and they didn't get either. They played well in the game against Italy, but you need to do that for 3 games.

They are NOt a team that is going to overcome adversity and perservere.

Anonymous said...

Wow, apparently we have gotten very bored over the off-season.