World Cup: Team USA at the World Cup

It's always the same old song. When America fails you can bet an armada of fools who will step up to kick them while they are down. It's become a fad of sorts in these dark post modern days. Yes, we know why it's done. People don't like the hype. Especially American sponsored hype. It's just the way things go. Some Americans take a perverse glee in watching their own country lose.

When I was playing elite soccer in the 1980s, the American soccer system in some ways was behind the Canadian program. I know during my playing days Canadian teams had successes against their American counterparts. When Canada reached the World Cup for the first and only time in 1986, it was the apex of Canadian soccer and proof that we were the better soccer country.

Then a funny thing happened. Canada typically took the Canadian route and failed to build on 1986 and America began laying the framework that was eventually going to result in a fifth place ranking with FIFA in 2006. Quite a reversal of fortunes shall we say?

America's rise to the top - and yes I agree that the FIFA rankings* are deeply flawed but still the only legitimate soccer ranking - has been impressive and a direct result of their commitment to developing a national soccer program. Where's Canada these days? I forget. I lost track after their 95th place ranking.**

I'm not here to discuss how America should continue its march towards better soccer or how to market it but I am here to refute the ridiculous reaction about the failure of the U.S. team.

A lot of hard work and pride under the guidance of Bruce Arena went into this American squad and to dismiss them is a shame. It to me reflects more on the ignorance of interloping soccer commentators than the soccer team itself. It seems as though there are way too many jackals and hyenas in the media just waiting to pounce on anything that is remotely negative.

There is no debate about the fact that the U.S. were over matched against the Czechs, played like psychotic huns against Italy and were not cohesive in their game with Ghana. That doesn't mean the team did not have talent - they did - it just means they are not a soccer nation....yet. Not to mention that they are learning the ropes of putting teams together. Many were blaming the officiating but all teams suffer from bad refereeing.

A sophisticated cynic will say "yeah well, I know how we are and we aren't going to do much." Maybe. But results are there: America has made the World Cup 5 straight times since 1990. An accomplishment onto itself.

Many Americans will be hearing all sorts of ESPN types and fans who could care less about soccer bash Team USA***. Given the polarizing nature of American society and politics it's not surprising to listen and watch Americans beat themselves up internally about this. People with the pens and mikes who should know better will babble and instigate. "American arrogance has done us in! We deserved to lose!"

Ignore it. Ignore it all.

*For alternative ranking sources check out ELO Rankings.
**Canada has made it to the Top 60. With the CSA still in disarray I don't know how sustainable this climb is.
***Since the WC, America have had a string of bad outings. They were average at the Gold Cup and terrible at the Copa America.


  1. As an American I ask, "What's soccer?"

    Perhaps more precisely I say, "Well, I remember something about a woman taking her shirt off. What was that all about?"

  2. Leave it to KOM to ut things all in perspective.

  3. Actually, I had the strangest feeling of deja vu after leaving the last comment.

    It's just that, for all the media reports that the US loves soccer, I don't know anyone that cares. Not that there aren't fans here, but I almost feel like I'm being brainwashed into believing that everyone loves the game, and I'm the only outsider.

    KFC just invented the "famous chicken bowl"? Nevermind that it was just created - if it's famous, it must be good! Better go try it! Baaahh.

    Which is just my very long-winded way of saying that I doubt many "Americans beat themselves up internally about this."

  4. Americans are the greatest salesmen on earth. You wuld know better than me as I can only observe from up here and from when I go to the New England states. Come to think of it, in light of what you said, I should have said 'the media beats themselves internally.' Now I feel like some chicken.


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