Thursday, May 29, 2008

We really sucked

I watched the US-England friendly last night at the pub I've been hanging out in, and I was completely embarrassed. Not because we lost. Because of the way we played. I thought it would be a good match, and we could give them a game. I didn't know about winning, but thought a tie might be possible. The English automatically assumed the win, and got it. Isn't that what we used to do in international competition, regardless of the sport.

Side note*** In the United Kingdom (Great Britain), England, Wales, Scotland, and the Republic of Northern Ireland (no, I'm not making that up) play as individual nations in their traditional sports. Such as soccer, cricket, rugby, etc. Sports where they are traditional powerhouses. But in sports where they need a large population base to pull from to compete, such as the Olympics, basketball, track and field, they compete as Great Britain.

The final score was 2-0, and in soccer that's a virtual blowout. Think the Red Sox playing the Royals. The score might seem close, but there was no actual competition. The US was outplayed. And here's why. They weren't aggressive. I'll say that again. The US wasn't aggressive. What will all the foreign newspapers have to say about that. I'm sure the Washington Post will be able to find some secret government conspiracy involved, even if they have to make it up.

The English players pushed us around all night long. The US didn't want to make contact, avoided contact, and I swear, never got close enough to "see the whites of their eyes". Or is that over the top. According to the English (British) media, the victory over the US was "not a major achievement".

Now for reasons I will go into later, I can't talk smack about the UK or the people or anything associated with any of this. I just can't. But England pushed us around and is now talking smack about us. We're letting a European country push us around and talk smack. That's the problem with soccer. American soccer fans are the touch-feely type, and will just accept it as a matter of course. Think about a European basketball team pushing around the Pistons, then talking smack. I want front row seats for that one. I'm glad they're our best buddies and allies, because what would the people who don't like us say. You know, like the Mexicans. If they could actually beat us anymore.

There was another major problem. A lot of us (me) complain about the Europeanization of basketball, and the flopping that goes on, brought on by the influx of European players. Its true, it happens, and I don't like it. But the reverse is going on. Lets call it the Hip-hopizaton of European soccer, and the "one-on-one: I'm better than you; teammates, I doan need no stinkin' teammates" attitude that prevails in the NBA. It now happens in soccer as well. Because the stars don't want to pass to anyone. They want to score themselves. In a game where 3 goals or less is average, you might be able to justify it. Except you can't. And it helped lose the match last night.

Because instead of driving inside to try to score, the US (think Adu) was willing to sit back and take long kicks that had no hope of going in, and no help when it didn't. Think of an NBA game with 5 Kobe Bryant's standing around the 3-point line. They're all going to shoot all game long, and not actually make very many. But because no one is under the basket to rebound, there are no rebounds, and the other team gets the ball after every shot. If you know the game of soccer, you know what I'm talking about. If you don't know the game, you probably don't care, and I'm not going to give a clinic.

England did the maximum substitutions (6) and never was worried about it at all. Think Ortiz, Manny being pinch hit for in the 3rd inning, and Paplebon being told to take the weekend off and go fishing, because he wasn't needed. It was a terrible performance. I don't follow US soccer at all. So I don't know if there are issues with the players or the coaching, or what. But they have got to get tougher and actually attack the goal if they want to win. It just never happened at all.

Another side note*** Wayne Rooney, from England, picked up a yellow card at about the 75', for a hard tackle. Could have gone either way, but it was nice to see the biggest name on England's roster still playing hard and trying in what was essentially a blowout. Kind of like Kobe playing garbage minutes in a blowout loss, but playing defense and rebounding instead of trying to score. If the US would have played with that type of effort, it might have been a completely different game.

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