Will the Real United States Men’s National Soccer Team Please Stand Up?

01 July 2014

Today, Americans saw their national soccer team lose a tense and physically demanding match versus a young and talented Belgium team. It was an exciting match on many levels. Both teams had with plenty of build-up and counter-attack play, with scoring opportunities for both teams, mostly for Belgium. It was a valiant U.S. effort, without a doubt, but don’t be mislead, America. The U.S. was no match for Belgium. Some will say, “Oh, man! The U.S. fought their assess off! They didn’t give up. They worked really hard. They weren’t knocked down. It was awesome!” When it comes to soccer, this way of looking at the game’s outcome is irrational, as it fails to consider the actual game and how it was played. It would be like Joe the Plumber going seven rounds with a young Mike Tyson. “Man, Joe the Plumber fought his ass off! He didn’t give up. He worked really hard. He wasn’t knocked down. It was awesome!” Well, maybe Joe the Plumber didn’t kiss the canvas, but did you get a good look at his face after the fight? He can’t see, he can’t smell, he has two black eyes, and he’s missing his two front teeth. Oh, and there’s a good chance that he’ll never be able to reproduce.” This is because Joe the Plumber doesn’t actually know how to fight.

Working really hard and battling and never giving up are important qualities for teams to have, but these qualities are expected of every World Cup team. You can’t compete in the Cup without them. The U.S. did not play soccer today. Yeah, the could’ve secured the win had Wondolowski finished the early Christmas gift that fell to his natural shooting leg, but he didn’t, and it’s sad that he couldn’t put his only opportunity in the back of the net because Wondolowski could’ve single-handedly changed the way America thinks about soccer,forever!

Don’t get me wrong. I want American soccer to succeed. Americans should be at the forefront of the sport, as a team to be feared. The U.S. country has the money and resources to achieve big things in worldwide football, but the U.S. isn’t taken seriously. We are on par with Trinidad and Tobago’s team and Jamaica’s team and Canada’s team. We are barely a step above Cuba’s team. Even when Mexico is at its worst, America is still only at their level.

I’ve been asking this question for years: In a country with over 317 million people, you’re telling me that the twenty-three men representing America are the very best players this country can produce? I don’t buy it at all. It’s time for the U.S. Soccer Federation to take a more genuine look at how their operation conducts itself. There are plenty of models to follow—Germany and Holland are only two.

There are bright sides. Tim Howard was superb. How many saves can a team expect their keeper to make? Apparently, the number is seventeen. Bradley, the U.S. midfielder, ran his lungs out. I have never seen an American player run so much in one game. It was as if these two bald guys got together before the game and made a pact to carry the team as far as they could—to leave everything on the field. Maybe the U.S. team should begin their “rebuilding process” by shaving their heads?

And an a “rebuilding process” is a term American pundits will use, once more, to describe America’s soccer future. Klinsmann needs time. Well, maybe he does. He needs time to take an honest drive across America to uncover the abundance of hidden soccer talent that is surely tucked away in small farming towns and broken down suburbs. Yeah, they’ll have names like Martinez and Kovac and La Sala and Chung and Hurakami and Mohammed, but guess what? They’ll be American, and soccer will be in their blood!

Herein lies the area in which the U.S. Soccer Federation’s fear is most apparent. They do not want to color the team. Bring in too many Latinos and you have another Mexican National Team. Bring in Mohammed’s and all of a sudden we’re a Muslim team. Chung’s and Hurakami’s are not American. U.S. Soccer is afraid to color the team for fear of scaring away loyal U.S. supporters. Do we currently have color? No, we don’t. Jones and Johnson are not African-American. They’re German. Green, today’s goal scorer, is German, too. Bedoya and Gonzalez fit the “American” mold because they have gone through America’s soccer protocol: college. But not every talented soccer player goes to college. In fact, the most talented soccer players in the United States rarely play for colleges and universities. These institutions often get the second-best players in the county. This is because many are not academically sound and can’t get into universities. Others don’t have the money to pay for school. These are the players that fall through nets, but these are the players that the U.S. has to invest in.

Today’s game was exciting. I was on the edge of my seat, and I was wholeheartedly rooting for the U.S. I was born in the United States and I am a proud Mexican-American. It would be nice to see an actual Mexican-American on the team. It would be nice to hear U.S. supporters chanting in Spanish and German and Japanese. Then we could say we feel connected to the United States Men’s National Soccer Team because at least they’ll look like us.  

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4 thoughts on “Will the Real United States Men’s National Soccer Team Please Stand Up?

  1. Mark — Right on. BTW you should submit this article to the opinion page of the New York times and the Wall Street Journal and find out which one has the cojones to publish it….

  2. Hey Mark
    Great post, very insightful! You make great points there. Considering the relentless influx of foreign talent to these shores for as long as the US have been the Us, academic, intellectual, labor, business… there is now way such influx hasn’t included the necessary soccer main d’oeuvre to turn this country into a soccer powerhouse almost overnight. Between the local talent and the continuously immigrating foreign talent, the players are already here, it just takes the relevant courage and vision to gather them into a team.

    • Wow! Exactly, Po. I hope it happens, soon. I’m not sure if Klinsmann is the man for the job. I like him as a coach. He’s knowledgeable, and he’s experienced. But I don’t think he reflects the American spirit. I don’t think he has his fingers on the cultural pulse of this country. Soccer is so much about cultural flair and flavor. It’s reflected in the style of soccer that a country plays. The U.S. is still searching for its own soccer identity. Even our chants are borrowed. There’s som much to consider, but one day, someone will step in to take is to the next level. This country deserves it. Thank you for reading. Cheers!

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