Thursday, June 22, 2006

U.S. falls in World Cup

I don't know anything about soccer. I really don't. I only played once in first grade and that was because the jerseys were red and we got to keep them. But since I watched the game and have a computer in front of me, I might as well join in the fray.

Americans think they are the s***. Plain and simple. And when it comes to sports, we like to add World Champions to all of our National Championship bestowments. We really do think we are the best in the world.

So what do we do when we know that we're not. We can't blame the refs for only scoring 1 goal in three games. We can't blame our fans for not traveling to support us. And we need to stop blaming our country for not caring about soccer. The problem is that there are more kids playing soccer in the midwest than there are in the whole country of Ghana. We have some excellent soccer programs at universities around the country, and our national soccer league has good attendance and very quality players that partake.

What we don't have is a star. That lacking seems quite vexing when one thinks about it. We are the land of the ballhogs aren't we? Aren't we the people who go around celebrating too much after TD's and taking on three defenders in the paint by ourselves?

Well not in soccer. In soccer, we are the team without the international wonderkid. We'll put Landon Donovan on our posters, but anyone who watched his play these past two weeks knows that he doesn't rank near the Essiens, Nedveds, Gerrards, Beckhams or Ronaldinhos. Heck, I don't watch soccer and I know these guys.

Maybe it is in a better spirit of teamwork that we watched Donovan give up goal-scoring opportunities to cross the ball to his teammate. Even if he did kick it 10 miles over his head. Maybe we shouldn't have an international superstar who demands god-like status on his own soil. Perhaps that is the last thing that the U.S. needs for its soccer program. Maybe there just isn't room for a Nedved when we've already got Shaq, T.O., Pujols, whoever.

What I do know is that to be successful in the World Cup, you have to have someone to turn to. Teams need leaders to make each player on the team better. The U.S. doesn't have that person and their team wasn't competitive. It will be four more years before we deal with this again. Let's hope that we learn a little bit.

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