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America’s National Embarrassmant

Jun
23
2006

When George Bush traveled to Austria and Hungary this week, it was easy for many Americans to ask which was the greater national embarrassment—our President or our World Cup team?
Given that the President didn’t even bother to watch the American squad’s game against Ghana in neighboring Germany—or even visit with them—and he was just one country over, it’s be pretty easy to claim that, indeed, soccer’s Team USA would take the “national embarrassment” title outright.
However, since we Americans don’t care so much about “football” and our boys did put up a valiant effort against Italy, you can’t say that all was for naught on the pitches of Germany—but if the United States ever hopes to compete in international soccer, some major changes are needed.
1. Focus on the Future. Landon Donovan is known in Europe because he could not cut in the Bundesliga. Team Captain Claudio Reyna is playing off his reputation as the best player…in college…at the University of Virginia in the 1990′s. While established players who are perhaps past their prime got the starting spots in most games, newcomer Bobby Convey sat on the bench for most of the critical third game against Ghana even though he had been one of the standout players of the Cup for the USA.
2. Out the “I” back in Team. This may sound unconventional, but in losing effots against the Czech Republic and Ghana, the American players appeared more eager to be “part of the system” than they were in being the best they could be. We saw against Italy that Donovan could make long runs from mid-field making players miss left and right, but too often when it came time to take a shot on goal, Landon and others would make a pass too many. Our players should go out there and perform to the best of their abilities–and the team should be built around those abilities rather than trying to force our best players to play a style they do not excel at.
3. Don’t settle for mediocrity. In a sport where some teams will play for a tie, the USA went into the World Cup hoping to make it out of the first round, only to face Brazil and lose. With expectations like that, how can we expect excellence. When the World Cup goes to South Africa in 2010, America should expect to—and play to—win the tournament. Maybe then the “disappointing” result will be a quarterfinal.
The first step on America’s four year journey: Fire Bruce Arena. We have the resources now to go out and recruit the best coaches in the World. Let’s do it and send the message that we’re serious about soccer—or at least 10% of us are.

Share  Posted by Scott Olin Schmidt at 11:09 AM | Permalink

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