The ESPN slogan for the 2006 FIFA World Cup claimed that “One game changes everything.” Hmm. If you’re from the U.S., that slogan should have been more like “Three games changes absolutely nothing.”
Are we not still where we started when this whole cup thing began? The U.S. is still on an entirely different page from the rest of the world: a “pitch” is still a field, “boots” are called cleats and futbol is spelled with two O’s and is an entirely different game all together.
The U.S. had the opportunity to prove to the world, and the critics here, that they were finally for real. Instead, they did exactly what the world expected them to do. They gave up, they bickered – they lost.
After squandering any chance of a grand entrance in a 3-0 loss to the Czech Republic, the U.S. could have still smiled at the press and said everything was still under control. Yes, they would have been lying, but we’re sports fans – we’re used to being lied to.
I would have appreciated that more than hearing our fine coach, Bruce Arena, personally call out his own players. Great encouragement, Bruce. Why not just tell us, “Hey, there’s always 2010”?
People in this country just don’t care about soccer. In 1999, U.S. player Brandi Chastain, a young, attractive woman, ripped off her shirt on the middle of the field to celebrate their win over China. When the shirt went back on, we changed the channel.
Even though we don’t get into soccer, something we do love is flexing our strength over others, which is why the U.S. team had such an amazing opportunity this year.
The U.S. team couldn’t even give us a goal, let alone a win, to celebrate until the final game against Ghana. (The score of the second game was 1-1, but I’m not going to count that one, because the Italians actually scored them both.)
Of course, not excusing our players at all, they sure didn’t receive any help this year. The Italy game exemplified perfectly why watching soccer isn’t worth it. Uruguayan referee Jorge Larrionda turned the game into a joke when he sent three players to the locker room early in the second half. Eventually, the remaining nine U.S. players were forced to simply play for the 1-1 tie, which is one of the most painful things to watch in sports.
Regardless of whether you blame it on the officiating, coaching, or the play of the entire team, one thing seems certain. Soccer will have to wait at least another four years to find a home in the U.S.
World Cup Participants: ’30, ’34, ’50, ’90, ’94, ’98, ’02
Best Finish: Semis in 1930 (13 team field)