Thursday, June 18, 2009

The U.S. Has a Long Way To Go

Seven years ago, the United States put together a run and nearly found themselves in the World Cup Semi-Finals. Now, one year away from another likely World Cup appearance, the progression the U.S. has made in these last seven years seems minimal.

Sure, nobody really expected us to beat either Italy or Brazil, but that might be part of the problem. When I say nobody expected us to win, I'm including the eleven guys on the field during those games. The United States soccer team seems to be missing that sort of character that allows them to perform against the heavy hitters, and you can blame that on the players or you can blame that on the coaching. Former soccer star Alexi Lalas said on ESPN today that he thinks the problem is with the players, in that a) this team has no true leaders and b) it's just not the right collection of guys to make any sort of a run.

You can't be upset with the fact that U.S. lost to Brazil, but you can be upset with how they lost to them. Check out the highlights from ESPN (I'd put them up here, but they usually take it down after a day), and it's flat out embarrassing. The U.S. was outclassed and outplayed in every way. You might expect to be outplayed by one of the world's best, but a lot of the things that happened today were less because of what of Brazil did, but more because of how the U.S. reacted.

So the U.S. is basically already out of this Confederations Cup, that is unless Egypt can somehow pull off an upset against Italy in a game going on right now. The U.S. would then have to beat Egypt and Brazil would need to beat Italy. They'd probably have to score a ton of goals as well because of goal differential, so this thing is all but over.

The larger picture though is how will the U.S. use this experience to help them come 2010? They do have a year to figure it out, but judging by this tournament and the disappointing loss to Costa Rica a few weeks back, one year may not be enough.

Update: Wow, what a thrilling last twenty minutes of the game between Italy and Egypt. Seriously, there is nothing better than International Soccer, especially on a weekday afternoon. Egypt knocks off Italy, 1-0, in a big, but not quite major, upset. Italy had about 45 chances in the last ten minutes, but just couldn't put it past the Egyptian keeper. This means the U.S. has a chance to make the next round with a win against Egypt on Sunday, although a very small chance.


jeff swick said...

bart, just discovered this site from facebook... pretty good writing and it's infinitely more enjoyable when you write with a point or for a purpose instead of game recaps. i'll make sure to click away on the ads on here (we unemployed folk gotta stick together). keep it up, jswick

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