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Soccer in America: World Cup Fever vs. I’m Just Plain Sick of the World Cup: Part II, I Like You But I Don’t Need You

Ok, so here is part II. If you missed part !, it’s here. 

Expanding the American’s Mind to “Kiss Your Sister”

I like that soccer expands the minds of the people who are curious about soccer. I can’t tell you how many people (casual fans) texted me after the US tied Portugal, asking me, “So what happens now? Are we out? Can we advance?” While I was also trying to figure out all the tiebreakers – which are confusing and again not the way we as American’s would expect.

The way baseball fans can enjoy a quality pitcher’s duel is the same way I can watch and enjoy two soccer teams match wits and end in a 0-0 tie. Now, granted some 0-0 ties are ugly as sin and the fact some games can end in a tie blows people’s minds, but that’s soccer. Quirky, but beautiful.

I understand that some of the nuances of soccer, like a game ending in a tie, goes against our win or lose mentality here in America. We like black and white bifurcations – we won, you lost, that settles it, it’s over.

In America:

Win = good

Loss = bad

Therefore there is only one thing that can be good…a win.

In Soccer:

Win = good

Loss = bad

Tie = ok.

Tie = can be good.

Tie = can actually be awesome! Like this coming Thursday; if the US/Germany game or the Ghana/Portugal game end in a tie then the US will advance to the knockout stage!

In America we’re just not sure about how ending a game in a tie can be good. It confuses the hell out of us (even though NFL games can end in a tie) so we dump soccer in the “bad” category in our brain because we don’t know how to process/reconcile a tie. A tie is like kissing your sister!

But again a tie this Thursday in the US/Germany game or Ghana/Portugal game will send the US fans into a frenzy because it will send us into the knockout stage!

Pure, Absurd Hate That Makes Me Laugh and Pity The “Haters” 

What cracks me up is the way some people are so completely vehemently AGAINST soccer. I don’t get that. Where did all this vitriol towards soccer come from? You never hear people say, “Hell, no I won’t watch tennis?! What are you crazy?! That sport is terrible!”

Most Americans won’t try to process it, they’ll normally dismiss it and this is why you have so many people that are against soccer. If it is different or we don’t understand it then we dismiss it or oppose it.photo

Why are people so against soccer? And not just against soccer, there is pure vitriol coming from people who hate soccer. But I don’t get it. You don’t hear this same kind of hate spewed towards golf, or tennis, or hockey…why soccer? Is it because soccer is so different and we (people in general) dismiss things we don’t understand? Could they maybe feel threatened or afraid?…

Whatever. Spew your hate. I’ll laugh and I’ll show you some pity and help nurture you back to feeling good about life…

…because that misplaced hate is coming from a very narrow almost closed mind. But hey, suit yourself, that’s just more beer for me at the soccer matches.

On the lighter side of things…

If you’re not pulling for the US team…shame on you…but check out this flow-chart for who to cheer for…although some teams have been eliminated already. But this is pretty dang funny.

http://m.tickld.com/x/for-any-confused-world-cup-fans-this-is-absolutely-genius

What’s In A Name?

Look at the comical side of things…what other sport throws in an arbitrary water break (like in the US/Portugal game) 5 minutes before half-time. And, who couldn’t like a sport with crazy names: a Brazilian named Fred? Seriously, there’s a Brazilian named Fred, Hulk, Maxwell, and Oscar. What are their last names? It doesn’t matter, you will call me Hulk. And there are other great names, Nani, Mix Diskerud, Zusi, and Koke. If you want to have some real fun go to Croatia’s or Bosnia and Herzegovina’s team page and look at their names – yeah, big time tongue twisters.

I Promise I’m not a Haughty-Toddy/Snoccer Fan

Some friends and I got together at Maduro Cigar Bar & Lounge to watch the US vs. Ghana game last Monday. It was a great end result with Brooks scoring the winning goal late in the game. During the game we were talking about the state of the game and it’s popularity in the United States. One friend made the comment about how much the popularity would grow if we did well in the World Cup. Well, the topic of “doing well” in and of itself is a huge topic but my initial thought about his statement was, “I don’t really care how much soccer grows in popularity in the United States”. Now, if I’m honest my thought isn’t 100% true. But at the same time I honestly don’t care too much about what other people think about soccer. I love soccer. Period. I don’t care if my neighbor is a fan or not; it doesn’t decrease my enjoyment. I’ve survived to this point in my life watching, playing, coaching, and enjoying soccer and I believe I’ll be able to do the same the remainder of my life as well with or without a new crop of fans by my side. Although I do have an adorable 16 month old son who I will try to brainwash… 😉

 

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I say all this and I don’t want to come across as haughty, but in all honesty I don’t need casual fans to enjoy one of my favorite sports.

Soccer fandom in the United States has always existed as a sort of quirky subculture in the United States. We sing dumb songs/chants, (I mean, they honestly are dumb, but when you’re doing it with 20,000 other fans it’s alot of fun!…did you actually watch this video?

…we hold scarves over our heads in 100 degree weather, and we don’t go berserk if a game ends in a tie. Yeah, I get it, we’re weird.

Now allow me to clarify something before y’all think I’m a jerk. In this post I made the comment it doesn’t decrease my enjoyment if other people are not fans…but the more fans there are watching at watch parties at all across the country, and packed in bars in Little Rock so tight the fire marshall has a coronary, that makes it all the more fun. More fans jumping on the band wagon can increase my enjoyment. Even if it is only during the World Cup.

Closing Time, Last Call

To those who will continue to post hateful comments about soccer, I want you to know I pity you and that you also make me laugh – it’s pretty funny to see people go out of their way to expend hateful energy on the world’s most popular sport. Oh, and you can also imagine my middle finger in your face too – I’ll expend that energy towards you. Love ya mean it. 🙂

To the casual fans peaking over the fence at the game of soccer, jump on over that fence, grab a beer, a scarf, and hop aboard the US Soccer Fan Train. I appreciate more people joining in on the fun. If you’re ever confused don’t feel hesitant to ask me a question. It’s a fun, beautiful game. We love that you’re with us. It’s going to be a fun ride on Thursday and hopefully beyond!

 

 
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Posted by on June 25, 2014 in culture, sports

 

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Soccer In America: World Cup Fever vs. I’m Just Plain Sick of the World Cup, part I

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Soccer, Yoda, Hulk, Fred, and Marcus Smart in the Same Post? Yes, but not all today. This is a two-part (on back to back days) post. I’m not like ESPN or Yahoo! Sports, or CBS Sports that stretches it out for months. This will be short and sweet…and if we (the USA) advance to the knock-out rounds I’m sure there will be more posts. You’ve been warned! 😉

Since the World Cup began, about two weeks ago, I’ve had lots of thoughts bouncing around in my head so there are several topics in this post. Most of these topics I will just touch on lightly…I don’t go too much in to detail. If I did it would make this post super, super long instead of just super long. I hope you enjoy…and of course fire back your thoughts to me. I love civilized dialogue!

Move Along, There Is No Donovan To See Here

I believe it was a mistake for Landon Donovan to be left off of the World Cup squad. Of course hindsight is 20/20 but I was miffed about this when the squad was announced.

But we need to get over it. Sure, it’d be awesome to have him at the World Cup, especially considering the injury to Josey Altidore. I thought it’d be great that even if Donovan didn’t start we could bring him off the bench in the 60th minute to change the pace of our attack. But since he was left off of the roster he can’t play. It’s over. It’s done. He’s one helluva player and I wish he could be with us but he can’t. So we need to get over it and stop bitching about it.

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

As the game on Thursday gets closer I’m getting more and more nervous thinking about the game and if the US will advance out of the group stage.

All Germany needs to do advance, and take first place in our group is draw with us on Thursday.

All we need to do to advance is beat Germany or tie Germany.

Oh, one little thing though…Germany is good…damn good! Did you see the hurt they put on Portugal? The same Portugal that we tied 2-2. To be fair Ghana tied Germany 2-2 and we beat Ghana…so who knows what will happen?

Even if we lose against Germany we can still advance if Portugal and Ghana draw, but I don’t see that happening. Cristiano Ronaldo even came out recently and said he doesn’t believe they (Portugal) are a top team and by their showing in the World Cup so far I would agree. They’re old and several of their players are battered and bruised and also hot-heads who can get red-cards for the dumbest of things. I believe Ghana can beat Portugal and our goal differential with Ghana is razor thin. We are +1 and Ghana is -1. Now Portugal can still advance too, but they need a ton of goals to do so and if they start forcing the issue that can leave them exposed for counterattacks with Ghana’s high pressure defending which is excellent. Did you see how they controlled much of the second half against us. And there’s a reason for why they did, but I won’t get into the boring tactical analysis.

I’m secretly hoping there are some back-room deals going on between the US and Germany and they’ve already agreed to play the most boring game ever and in a draw; but in reality that’s not going to happen. So I am genuinely becoming more and more nervous about the game on Thursday. But as an optimist I believe I will be celebrating with a big, fat, celebratory cigar on my drive home from Northwest Arkansas on Thursday.

{If you’re still not clear on what is going on with all the tie-breakers here is how the US and all the other countries can advance, if they are not already eliminated.}

We’ve Come A Long Way

Soccer has come a long way in the United States. I can remember back to my freshman year of high school in Topeka, KS and the football team was running next to our soccer field while we were practicing and the football team was yelling homophobic slurs at all of us and then my coach feeling the need to stick up for us went over and was about to start a fight with some of the football players. We thought it was hilarious and we weren’t affected by the slurs they were yelling. I guess I should probably be in counseling for the bullying I experienced that day, but that’s for another post. The point is, is that soccer has risen above the floor of most civilized* people in the United States not necessarily understanding it completely, but at least not making fun of it.

As we were getting done with our league soccer game this past Sunday we were hearing reports of alot of restaurants being jam-packed full of people ready to watch the US vs. Portugal game. This soccer fever has been caught by a wave of people across the US and this is fun! Outside of Little Rock there are huge watch parties all across the country in Kansas City, Chicago, Houston, Brooklyn and more cities drawing tens of thousands of people at each location! I’m telling you, hearing about all of this and seeing different clips on the news, social media, and on youtube from each location…this is fun!

Floppity Flop Flop and Marcus Smart

I’ll admit that flopping in soccer is a big problem. But it’s getting much better…in most cases.

And then after a little spray from the magic spray can they’re good to go and right back in the game.

Magic Spray is Magic! – photo credit to SBNation.com

 

Yes, flopping sometimes seems unique to soccer but remember Marcus Smart?

I will also say that for the most part USA players do not flop. There will always be exceptions and incidents when it will happen, but mostly when a USA player goes down it’s because they were fouled. I’m not a soccer apologist – there are issues, just as there are issues with all sports – no sport is perfect and this is a specific example where soccer can get better.

Soccer thankfully has made a serious effort to decrease flopping by doling out yellow cards for Marcus Smart-esque flops, or at the very least letting the play to continue on without even acknowledging the flop.

That’s all for today…

In my next post ,on Wednesday, I’ll cover: kissing you sister, hate towards soccer, awesome world cup player names, and how I’m not a snobbish soccer fan but I don’t need you to like soccer.

 
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Posted by on June 24, 2014 in community, sports, Uncategorized

 

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Your Blame is Seriously Misguided

 

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First, I’m partially to blame for the loss. I jinxed us. Let me explain…as the game entered the final minute of stoppage time I turned to Tracy (my wife) and said, “It only takes 5 seconds to score a goal”. ——— 30 seconds later I was cussing at the tv.

Like Tim Howard said after tonight’s game, “Soccer is a cruel game”. So true, Tim, so true.

I’m mentally and physically exhausted from that game…and I’m also completely jacked up…but I want to clear something up.

I keep seeing people saying that if Cameron would’ve had a better clearance then Portugal wouldn’t have scored the first goal; or if Bradley scores on the open netter that was saved by a knee then we would’ve won. Well, that’s not actually factual. Soccer is a game that a simple touch, flick, or whatever that changes how the ball rolls then changes the sequence of the game from that point on. So this means the sequece of events is ever evolving. Does that make sense?

I guess some people just don’t understand alternate dimensions.

For example, in tonight’s game if Cameron gets a better clearance on the ball then the play continues on and doesn’t stop with a goal being scored – so the sequence of events would have been different than how the game actually played out.

If Cameron clears the ball we don’t know 100% how many other goals might have been scored…or whether or not a goal is even scored during the game at all. Those results are somewhere in an alternate dimension.

Consider this explanation from Michael Caine in the movie, “Mr. Destiny”. But when he says “destiny” just pretend he is saying, “the end result of the game”.

 

Soccer is not a systematic game…actually most sports are the same as well…the sequence of events are ever-changing. Every touch on the ball, tackle made or missed, fumble won or lost, 3 pointer made or missed – they all change the trajectory and sequence of events of a game.

I’m not 100% blaming Bradley…but factually, Bradley holding & losing the ball at midfield, or the defenders who were initially in position but were being lazy while watching Ronaldo cross the ball, are the only plays you can factually say that if that doesn’t happen, or something occurs differently in that sequence of events then we would win the game. This is “factual” because it happened with 10 seconds remaining in the game.

I’m sure there is an easier, better, or more articulate way of explaining all of this but like I said before I’m mentally and physically exhausted.

That is all for now.

My next post is a big middle finger and also laughing at the people who “hate on” soccer. Their narrow-minded, needle-brained, vitriol makes me laugh. And frankly, I don’t give a damn what they think about one of my favorite sports. I’ll explain soon…

 
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Posted by on June 22, 2014 in culture, sports

 

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Random Reminiscing and Reflecting Before Today’s MLS Cup Championship

From:

Kansas City Wiz

 

To today:

Sporting KC

  • I attended the very first Kansas City Wiz game in 1996.

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  • I always thought it was funny when the Kansas City Wiz played the Dallas Burn.
  • It was a favorite game of urologists.
  • The Wiz were forced to change their name to the Wizards in 1997.
  • The Urologist union had nothing to do with forcing the name change.
  • A computer company in Baltimore was actually the reason they had to change their name.
  • “Nobody Beats the Wiz” is evidently true.
  • The Wiz and Wizards played all their games in cavernous Arrowhead Stadium.
  • Arrowhead Stadium seats 79,451.

Arrowhead Stadium

  • The Kanas City Wizards normally averaged around 10,000-15,000 people per game.
  • When you put 15,000 people in Arrowhead it seems like a drop in the proverbial bucket.
  • The largest crowds to watch the Wizards would always be when they brought in Michael W. Smith to play a concert after the Wizards game.
  • Those crowds would top out around 30,000; which is alot for a soccer game in the United States.
  • Arrowhead still seemed cavernous with 30,000 people in attendance
  • The noise factor for the Kansas City Wizards at Arrowhead wasn’t a big factor because the noise drifted skyward.
  • …Back to Christians and soccer fans.
  • Talk about two worlds (subcultures) colliding at Arrowhead- Christians and soccer players.
  • I’m not saying soccer players aren’t Christians.
  • I’m both a soccer player and a Christ follower.
  • What I am saying is soccer players tend to be a bit more experimental towards…well, everything; and soccer players come from all walks of life and ethnicities. Christians, while they also come from all ethnicities, are still very segregated when they all come together.
  • Roll a ball out and all soccer players no matter the ethnicity joining in will start playing.
  • Throw a bible in the middle of “Christians” and Christians will spend time sharing what they disagree with.
  • I am not a fan of Michael W Smith’s music.
  • Cheesy Christian music is not my thing.
  • But when I stuck around one time to listen to one of his concerts after a Kansas City Wizards game, I laughed hard at his self-deprecating humor towards one of his hit songs, “Friends are Friends Forever”, during the concert.
  • He made the comment that he was absolutely sick of the song but knew he would be booed if he didn’t play it.
  • Fast forward to the year 2000.
  • I sat in a bar in Overland Park (Kansas City suburb) watching the the Kansas City Wizards win the MLS Cup championship.
  • After I cheered for them winning the Cup, the guy sitting next to me said, “Soccer? Who cares?”
  • I actually prefer the name Wizards over Sporting KC.
  • But I prefer the ownership and organization of Sporting KC over the previous ownership group.
  • The Hunt family was a fantastic ownership group that brought soccer to Kansas City but Robb Heineman has been even better.
  • Considering how successful Robb Heineman has been with the club he could call the club “the one legged pink flamingos” and it would still be cool.
  • No offense meant towards one legged pink flamingos.
  • The ownership of Sporting KC flat out gets it. 
  • Sporting Park (where Sporting KC plays) is flat out awesome!

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  • I guess I like saying “flat out”. I presume it’s because I’m from Kansas and everyone thinks Kansas is flat.
  • If you believe that is true for every inch of Kansas you’ve obviously have never been to Kansas.
  • Sporting Park is not cavernous, but it is VERY loud.
  • In fact, Sporting Park is perfect.
  • It seats 18,467 very loud fans.
  • At most games there are 19,000+ fans in attendance.
  • Don’t tell the fire marshall.
  • More sports venues might be trending towards smaller stadiums/arenas, etc with TV/home becoming a more popular (read cost effective) venue for watching games.
  • I can’t believe how far soccer in America and the MLS has come.
  • I remember training as a freshman in high school and our soccer team being called homophobic slurs by the football team…because we play soccer.
  • I also remember my first high school coach having to be restrained from going after a high school football player (twice his size) because the football player was making the homophobic slurs towards us.
  • I am looking forward to seeing how far our society can progress towards a less phobic attitude towards things that are different or things we don’t understand.
  • We need to have tough conversations about a lot of things to make our society better.
  • Rome wasn’t built in a day.
  • But it was a pretty good empire after people worked on it a bit.
  • Give us some time.
  • For today…let’s bring the Cup home to Kansas City!
  • Sidenote: My attempt to show my Kansas City Wizards Tony Meola and Preki bobble head doll, which is being kept in the attic, was thwarted due to the ice in my driveway which prevented me from pulling the cars out to get into the attic.
 
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Posted by on December 7, 2013 in community, culture, sports

 

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My 2010 World Cup Analysis on the USMNT

Systemic Analysis of Soccer in the United States –

Soccer is a beautiful game.  Soccer is also a huge part of my life.  I started playing at the age of 5, played in high school, college, and a little bit of semi-pro in Spain. After returning from Spain I continued to play and also began coaching and have coached for the greater part of the past 10 years in KS, MO and now AR.

Some of you were maybe wondering how long it was going to take me to come down from the ledge when the US lost against Ghana which ended the US’s run in the World Cup – well honestly, I’m not that upset. Don’t get me wrong, I’m upset about a lot of things that happened in the World Cup in terms of tactics, substitutions, formations, etc with our team, but the result(s) with the team and coach we had on the pitch was expected from those who know soccer – we hoped for more, but knew what to expect.  I’m proud of the boys we had out there – they played hard (not well) but they can only do as much as their ability allows, and the American spirit of pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps to carry us beyond our talent and ability just does not happen in the World Cup…too often.

For example – Brazil is a world class team and is steamrolling through the World Cup right now and they look on target to win their 6th World Cup (currently tied with Italy with 5 titles) – well, their nation at home is not pleased with their team.  Sure the people are happy they are winning, but for Brazilians it’s not solely about winning, it’s about HOW you win – joga bonito (play beautifully).  The team and coach are very systematic and programmed (and effective), but that does not sit well with the beautiful game that Brazilians know which dazzle you with passing, off the ball runs, and touches that will mesmerize you into a trance before they pounce and leave you holding their jock-strap while they are in the corner dancing the samba with the corner flag in celebration of their goal-azo.  For as much as we as a nation try we might occasionally beat the great teams but Brazil, Argentina, Spain, Italy, Germany, France etc have this sport engrained in their culture and this is the sport that means EVERYTHING to them.

The development of professional athletes is different in the United States than it is all across the world.  There is no Rock Chalk Chant or calling the Hogs in Spain or Italy.  The athletes in Europe don’t play college soccer, football, basketball etc. They are viewed in different competitive leagues growing up and then selected to be brought into the youth developmental system of different professional teams – Manchester United, Inter Milan, Real Madrid, Barcelona, etc etc. They might enter the youth system at age 14, 15 or 16 or maybe later and continue on progressing through the different age groups of the team until they reach the senior team. For soccer, that’s the correct way to do it when considering player development and the international game. The systems (schools, camps, selection pools, etc) we have in place in the United States will allow us to do well on the international level, but not to churn out the amount of top-notch players that the elite countries churn out each and every year which would keep us in the top 5 in the world perennially.

Landon Donovan is an extremely talented player and has played in the past 3 World Cups for the USA – pretty good right?…well, only because there’s no one better to surpass him.  In Spain (or any other aforementioned country) if you are lucky enough to play in 3 World Cups you are an absolute stud. Also, look at the bashing that France, Italy, and England have taken since being ousted from the World Cup. Their countries expect greatness game in and game out…is it a little cocky?…sure, maybe, but they all have won a World Cup and turn out quality players each and every year AND have a huge pipeline of quality players waiting in the wings – they have earned the right to be a bit cocky and expect better from their teams.  Our systems have failed us thus far and we’re taking steps to rectify the situation but it will take a long time before our systems can produce numerous dominant players at the same time.

Cultural Analysis of the World Cup’s Impact on the USA –

The attention we give to sports in a way can symbolize our interaction with our friends.  We only have so much room for a certain number of close friends that we interact with regularly and consistently*.  Imagine a bulls-eye, not an actual bull’s eye, but the type of bulls-eye used for target practice. In the inner circle are our best friends and we might have room for about 3, 4 or 5 good, close friends. When you move to the next ring you have more room for friends and these are good friends too, but not as close as the ones on the inner circle. Then you go to the next circle, and the next, and the next.  Sports can mimic this.  In my inner circle I have: KU football and basketball NCAA football and basketball, MLB, and soccer (World Cup, La Liga, Premier League, Serie A). On the next outer ring I have NFL, NBA, golf, and college baseball.  In the next ring I have: Olympic sports, college baseball and Women’s National Team soccer.  In the farthest ring on the bulls-eye completely away from everything pure and holy resides NASCAR…ugh…not even sure I can recognize it as a sport – it’s hillbillies in their souped up go-carts.

*social media has expanded the circles and in a way has added a completely separate plane which allows us greater interaction with all our friends near, far and in-between.

That being said, soccer in the USA might be in the inner circle of interest for some people, or it might be in the next circle for others, and then on the outermost periphery for most people – that’s ok.  I’m not the type of fan that believes that soccer, football, fútbol, calcio, foosball, futebol, etc needs to be the dominant sport in the US – it’s not going to happen; heck I don’t think it’s even my #1 sport.  Economic factors and cultural factors play into where soccer lands in the sports landscape of the United States and I’m perfectly ok with that; but as far as general interest in the United States it’s hard to deny that the 2010 World Cup piqued the interest of the common sports fan of the United States.

Some quick numbers:

– USA vs. Ghana – in the USA, seen by 14.9 million on ABC and an additional 4.5 on Univision – a record for the World Cup in the US. (this number doesn’t include all the people gathered at bars to watch the game together)

– Power & Light Entertainment District in downtown KC had 10,000 people watching it in their pavilion

– 19.4 million US viewers for an afternoon game in the summer.

– 19.4 million is the same number of viewers as the 6 prime-time games of last year’s World Series

– USA vs. Canada gold medal game in the Olympics garnered 27.6 million viewers; but that was in the winter with less ability to be outside

– through 52 games ESPN’s viewership is up 58%

– for ESPN 28% increase in viewership for games not involving the USA

Game Analysis –

I’m not going to go into great detail but will highlight some snippets that had me concerned before the World Cup even began.  2010 was definitely a step back tactically compared to 2002 and 2006. I don’t want this to sound overtly negative because I can make it sound like I’m a genius with that whole hindsight saying, but these are concerns I had way before the World Cup began that I would discuss with my soccer cohorts when we would analyze the games, selections, formations, etc. I do believe in terms of success this World Cup was a step back especially considering our side of the bracket was an absolute gift.  In 2002 and 2006 we saw much better tactics, player usage, and formation implementation.

Starting near the top – our coach Bob Bradley.  I was not happy with his selection in 2007. Overall he’s mediocre at best.  He should have been removed in 2009 but the US camp knew that it was too late to replace him and bring in somebody knew.  His substitution patterns were fair, but not overly tactical. His formations were not very creative when considering the players he selected.  And the players he selected were very suspect. His son Michael Bradley is the epitome of the American spirit – he’s a hard worker – but he’s not the type of central mid-fielder we need to bring our team together. An interesting fact is that before Bob Bradley became coach he was not getting a sniff of action with the national team and then all of a sudden he becomes a regular starter…this seems a bit suspect when considering the betterment of the team. But even when I type that I go back to a statement I made above regarding the US not having a bounty of quality players.  Lesser of two evils I guess.  In the interest of US Soccer progressing Bradley should not continue as coach.

Some people commented they were concerned about the lack of scoring by our forwards – not scoring is not a huge concern of mine depending on what they are doing off the ball. I was a big concerned with their lack of creativity up top.

Defending, defending, and defending. Ok, I’ll be honest, as a player I’m a defensive midfielder and a stopper so I can add more thoughts on this than thoughts on our forwards. The teams I’ve played on and have coached have always been defensively stout primarily because this is my specialty so I could go on for days and days in this area but there were a couple key areas that stood out regarding our defensive deficiencies. Overall our defending was atrocious. Some of the atrocities came in the form of simple communication, fundamentals of relieving pressure, and behind the scenes, also player selection. Onyewu quite simply should not have been on the field or with them at the cup since he was not healthy. If he’s 100% he’s a quality defender but he was just coming off of an injury and should not have been in there or even on the team. What happened to Jimmy Conrad’s place on the team? He’s a defender that is so sound in the fundamentals and has a calming presence as a central defender that I wonder if he would have been selected for the team how much he could have made up for in terms of the other players’ deficiencies.

This last thought is definitely a hot topic now – instant replay.  In some form it needs to be included when there is a goal.  It was almost a tragic departure for the US because of botched calls and England and Mexico were absolutely robbed – and who knows, maybe if those goals are not allowed against England and Mexico maybe the momentum doesn’t shift as it did in both games.

Conclusion –

Ok, in bringing this long post to a close. I’m not distraught over the loss b/c I didn’t have delusions of grandeur with our team.  In KU’s loss to Northern Iowa I was very distraught b/c we were definitely the best team and we flamed out – that was quite upsetting.  But with the World Cup before the World Cup started I knew we should advance out of group but that we had glaring deficiencies all over the field, and primarily in our defense, to be able to advance further against quality teams.  The most upsetting part about the US not advancing in the tournament was the gift we were given on our side of the bracket – if we beat Ghana then we face Uruguay (decent team but not amazing), then if we beat Uruguay we would’ve been in the semi-finals of the World Cup. Now that is success.

This tournament comes around every 4 years and that is probably a good thing because it wreaks havoc on my nerves but I’ve already told Tracy that to celebrate our 4 year anniversary we will be vacationing in Brazil…the location of the 2014 World Cup. U-S-A!!

As for now I’ll continue to pull for the red, white, and blue – and educate those who want to learn more about soccer, football, fútbol, calcio, foosball, futebol, or whatever you want to call it.  No matter what you want to call it, it is a beautiful game.

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2010 in culture, sports

 

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What the World Cup Means to Us Die-hards

This is an email I sent last Friday to some friends about the World Cup…

Ok, so it’s almost 1:30am and I can’t sleep in anticipation of the big game tomorrow…ummm…today….ummm Saturday.  But I wanted to share what the World Cup means to so many of us who have literally put in concussions, torn ligaments, broken bones, heads to the goal post, slide burns, and big ol’ tears in heartbreaking losses, etc all in the name of soccer.  I remember starting out in high school and our first coach (it was not Tim Collins for those who know Tim) getting in a shouting match with the football team when they called us a bunch of queers – that was awesome – jk.  Of course back then the shorts had a ½ inch in-seam so that really didn’t help matters much…but I digress.  😉

Here’s a video that honestly is a bit of a tear jerker when you see all the reactions from people (mainly Americans) all across the world from Landon Donovan’s shot that went in (in stoppage time) in our game against Algeria to put us through to the knock-out round of 16 (our game today).  We might be done after playing Ghana, and that would honestly be a disappointment b/c we are a superior team and also b/c our side of the bracket lines up amazingly favorable for us to make it to the semi-finals…yes, I said the US of A could be in the semi-finals of the World Cup!!  But regardless, no matter when our last game is…against Ghana, or in the finals on July 11, each and every game I’ll continue to cheer on the U S of A and thankfully my nerves only have to go through this every 4 years…but I love every second of it!!

ps – the picture is of me when I played in college…back when I had hair!

Enjoy and cheer loud…and for all 90 minutes on Saturday!!

(this video will give you goosebumps!!)

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2010 in culture, sports

 

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