Tuesday, June 13, 2006

National Shame

The terrible loss the US Soccer team suffered today in the hand of the Czech Republic was the best thing that could happen to the future of American soccer.

Two weeks ago, as the US played Jamaica in North Carolina, ESPN aired a short "behind the scene" clip, showing players and staff members talking in the locker room. The lack of organization was obvious everywhere, from the coach saying "let's forget about our last loss, it was a stupid game", to the way the players talked to the press, with no professionalism whatsoever (the relation between players and media is almost as important as training, for mental and supporting reasons).
And the anchor signing off, with a big smile flashing his ignorance.

But since then, the world cup frenzy started. People believed the 5th place of their team in the official and incredibly stupid FIFA ranking meant something (in reality, this ranking depends on which region a team plays in, and does not consider the quality of the opposing team when counting a win, which means that a victory of USA over Jamaica has the same impact that a victory of Germany over Italy!).

So, expectations flew high. On every Sport Center, in every magazine, every website, Americans started talking about their great team and the fantastic road it would take in this world cup.

And then, the US got a beating. 3-0 against the Czechs, the first goal coming in the 4th minute. And now, for the first time, the reaction seems a professional one. The coach is talking about players not stepping up, the media are performing "reality czechs", reminding everyone of the true nature of US Soccer: just beginning.

There's one thing the united states care about more than anything else, it's pride. And today, the US are ashamed. So at last this country starts taking the sport seriously, because with the loss came the realization that America sent an ambassador to the world it could not be proud of.

I suggest you read today's New York Times article. If you're American, it hurts. If you're from anywhere else in the world, you'll recognize a typical media reaction to its national soccer team losing a world cup game. At last.


Van said...

I couldn;t agree more! Pseudo soccer fans were boasting everywhere they had the abilities to win the World Cup with no results to back it up.

Talking about shame, i don't think any of us should be really proud of the spectacle (should I say debacle?) the French team offered today. Although I could only catch the 2nd half, i had the uneasy feeling we were back 4 years ago... History repeats itself, or so they say...

Ben said...

That's sure what it seemed, but I don't think it's what it was.
Switzerland and France know each other very well, they played twice last year (a draw every time). a lot of swiss players play in France, etc.
That game was made for a tie, nobody could surprise nobody. Switzerland might not be a great team, but they're one of the most dangerous for France, because of their common history. Plus, because of the group (the two other teams are not really dangerous), I think a tie fit both team. At the end, Henry and some other players were smiling.
Not pretty, but a good -enough- game in my opinion anyway. Now we got to beat South Korea and Togo. If we don't do that well, then I'll be ashamed!