Thursday, June 10, 2010

World Cup: America's team reflects America's attitude

Brian Abernethy is blogging on the World Cup for the Capital Sports Report

Rising from relative obscurity to the international soccer limelight in just a few short years, the United States men's national soccer team now looks forward to its Saturday match against England with excitement rather than anxiety.

Falling victim to the ever-growing shadows of the NFL, MLB, NBA and college sports, United States soccer has had to battle adversity not only against its opponents on the pitch, but also vying for attention in the media. The lack of media attention and reward for their successes has made it very difficult for the Americans to continue to push themselves to succeed on behalf of the red, white, and blue.

When difficult victories are had in qualifying over smaller nations such as El Salvador, Honduras and Costa Rica, the nation feels ashamed that we haven't demolished the opposition and therefore assumes that our team aren't any good and aren't worth supporting. The problem with this assumption is that, unlike the olympics, smaller nations are no longer obsolete in their experience and talent in soccer. Having soccer as their national sport, they prove to be difficult opponents for not only our national team, but national teams across the world. So how will a team that struggles with the Guatemalas and Trinidads step onto the field this month in South Africa and not only compete with, but get results against the likes of England, Slovenia, and Algeria?

The answer lies not in our players, our coach, our opponents, or our experience.

The answer lies in our heart.

Considered a "second-rate footballing nation" by the rest of the planet, we've proven time and time again that while we may not have the talent, we certainly have the heart.

Not convinced yet? Check out these results from the last year:

USA 3-0 Egypt: Needing a 3-0 victory as well as help from Brazil, the US did its part with a comprehensive smashing of African champion Egypt on goals from Davies, Bradley, and the all-important diving header from Clint Dempsey.

USA 2-0 Spain (Confederations Cup Semifinal): The biggest victory in the history of United States soccer. Spain was ranked #1 in the world, with the US barely squeaking into the semis. Goals from Altidore and Dempsey along with heroics from the backline and goalkeeper Tim Howard help the Americans shock the world.

USA 2-3 Brazil (Confederations Cup Final): Taking a 2-0 lead and watching it slip away has taught us a great lesson, and experiencing the pain of having victory snatched from our jaws will prove invaluable this month in South Africa

USA 2-2 El Salvador: US fights back and gets 2 goals in the last 10 minutes to salvage a draw and a crucial point on the road.

USA 2-1 Honduras: US goes down 1-0 early, but fights back as captain Carlos Bocanegra gets the game-winner in the second half.

USA 2-1 El Salvador: US again goes down 1-0 early, but grabs the lead before halftime on headers from superstars Altidore and Dempsey.

USA 3-2 Honduras: USA clinches their spot in the World Cup by going away to Honduras, where no team had won yet, and getting a victory.

USA 2-2 Costa Rica: After teammate and friend Charlie Davies is injured in a fatal car crash, Jonathan Bornstein heads in the equalizer from a Robbie Rogers corner in the 94th minute to make the US finish #1 in CONCACAF.

USA 2-1 Turkey: Falling behind 1-0 in the first half, the United States comes back and gets the victory via Altidore and Dempsey to secure a win in their final match in the USA before heading to South Africa.

These nine matches in the past 12 months where we proved that what skill we possess is supplemented by our heart and determination to give us results are no anomoly. Make no mistake, this team has what it takes to make a splash this summer.

The very same heart that gained us our Independence 234 years ago and makes this great nation what it is today will be worn on the sleeve of every American player for as long as they're still breathing.

Open your eyes, England. You're in for another surprise.



  1. Well said Brian. Love your passion for the game and for our American boys!

  2. Thanks for a well written piece Brian ! I am more pumped than ever ! Let's Go Yanks !

  3. One reason Americans don't care much about the World Cup is evident from the first two games. Mexico and South Africa tied 1-1 and then France and Uraguay tied 0-0. Not only were both ties but there were two goals scored between four teams over 180 minutes.
    While I wouldn't watch a match without the U.S. being one of the teams (except maybe to root against Mexico), I will keep up with the Americans. Of course, I watch the Americans play Curling.