Saturday, June 26, 2010

Down Go the Yanks, But Thanks For Trying

Hey boys, thanks for the effort – it was a thrilling ride while it lasted. But let's be real, soccer isn't really our sport and just the fact that you bested England to come out of the group in first was quite a feat. Yeah, you had the semifinals in your sight, with only Ghana and the winner of Uruguay/South Korea to beat, but hey, for being the country's sixth most popular sport (behind football, basketball, baseball, hockey and hotdog eating), what could you have really expected? You showed incredible heart and late-game discipline, but in the end you only had so many miracles at your disposal. Plus, with only three days rest, you'll have the exhaustion excuse (though you are professional athletes and it's your profession to be fit and prepared), as well as being forced to play without one of your best defenders (Oguchi Onyewu, slowed by injury). Hopefully the media will take it easy on you.

All sarcasm aside, it really was one of the more entertaining and engaging World Cup showings this country has had in some time. The 2002 quarterfinal aside, where we were a mediocre team that managed to beat our hated rivals, Mexico, this 2010 squad shows real promise looking forward. The core of Bradley (our most consistent player), Feilhaber (who should have been starting all tournament), Altidore (who needs to work on his dribbling and finishing and fitness – which are all reasons why he gets no time in Europe), Edu (who also should have been starting), Dempsey (who had a hell of a showing, despite only a fluke goal against England; but the guy was a human punching bag, and did not ease up) and, of course, Donovan (who finally lived up to his best-American-player reputation), bodes well for future successes at the international level. Each proved that he can play with the best on the biggest stage, which will hopefully translate into a few transfers to new, more prestigious clubs – which, in turn, will also grow the talent of the group.

For nearly two weeks, the US men's national team made soccer headline news. Sure, some bitched about the ties and the purpose of offsides, but the last-minute comebacks were thrilling (even though they were against Slovenia and Algeria) for the lovers and haters of the beautiful game, alike. It's just too bad that now any of the new fans of the game will have to watch the MLS, which is almost worse than a Royals-Brewers game.

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