Thursday, June 22, 2006

Sick And Tired
By Ben Valentine

Fans of US soccer need to stop and realize one thing before they whine and complain about Italy, Ghana or any referee for the team’s result in the 2006 World Cup.

Your team is not that good.

Listen, I’m not the biggest US soccer fan. For anyone who’s read my stuff on this World Cup knows Trinidad and Tobago was who I was really pulling for. But I always want the US soccer team to do well. The reason? I love soccer and want it to be bigger in this country. Unfortunately most people in the US don’t like a sport unless the US is dominant in it.

But after reading some of the idiots who commented on Deadspin, I’m almost glad the sport isn’t popular. Some excerpts:

Wow. I didn't think it was possible for a team to be more a diving, whining pack of pussies than Italy. Congratulations, Ghana, you've outdone yourselves. That was quite a performance. I expect at least half their squad to be unavailable due to injury in the next round.

I'm waving the conspiracy flag... who's with me!???

that was not a penalty. what a facking joke. soccer blows.

Fucking cocksuckers. These refs might be worse than the ones in the NBA. A f*cking PENALTY KICK in stoppage time?? Bollocks. I guess if the US is to advance, they'll have to beat both the Ghanians AND the refs. Hopefully they'll give one back to the US so they can score their own penalty kick.

This World Cup experience should serve as a lesson for those who don't think there real consequences to the US stemming from Bush's foreign policy.

Remember soccer isn’t popular in the US. Can you imagine what it would be like if there were more of these people? Millions whining; “Waa! Waa! We didn’t get a break? Don’t they know who we are?”

The entire world knows who the US is. A B- rate soccer team that can beat up on the lesser sisters of CONCACAF but can’t hack it against anyone who actually is considered top tier.

Realize that Landon Donovan can’t play against the world’s best in the European professional leagues, so why should anyone be surprised that he’s miserable playing against many of those same players in the World Cup? Please, no more talk about Donovan as America’s golden boy of soccer. Play overseas? Test yourself against the best? No, Donovan is convinced he can take his game to the next level playing against the B-level competition of MLS. I’d love to know how. By playing against the best in the world for two or three games once every four years?

Then again, Donovan would have to fight for playing time in Europe. They wouldn’t treat him like a deity. Perish the thought that Mr. Donovan would actually have to EARN something on the playing field. No, that’s too much to ask. He’s one of the best in the world, just no one respects him… and the US. It’s just not fair!

Yeah Landon, keep telling yourself that.

Should we really be shocked that Eddie Pope, who never was that good in the first place, had a miserable tournament which saw him get burned on defense and pick up cards like they were going out of style? Perhaps we should just have been surprised that Pope was inserted in the starting lineup, not once, but twice. He probably would have been back in the lineup again today, but the rules of soccer prevented US coach Bruce Arena from making that blunder.

However there was no rule to stop Arena for playing Claudio Reyna against Ghana, despite the fact the midfielder was mediocre at best against the Czechs and down right awful against Italy. But he’s the captain; so replacing him despite the fact there were better alternatives was apparently a no-no.

Eddie Johnson would have been an acceptable substitute as an attacking midfielder or second striker. But apparently Johnson did something while being the US’ best player against the Czechs to be relegated to the bench for the next 155 minutes or so. Even Ben Olson got off the pine before Johnson did.

Yes, but it’s the officials that cost the US the game! It’s a conspiracy theory!
Except the Oneywu play was a penalty. When you’re about four inches taller than the man you’re covering, you have no right to be riding his back for a header.

But it was… in stoppage time!

A foul’s a foul, no matter where it is.

But Italy….

What? You mean Eddie Pope’s blatant two fouls which both deserved to be carded? Masteroni’s red card was a tough break, but they happen. The good teams deal and the bad teams fold.

To the US’ credit, they didn’t fold. But they didn’t exactly deal either.

And that’s exactly what the US is. They’re an in between squad. They’re better than the borderline squads like Trinidad, Serbia- Montenegro and Australia. But don’t even think about putting them in the same league as Brazil, England, France or Argentina. Hell, they’ve proven less on the international stage than South Korea.

So it’s back to the drawing board. While I think Arena has done a good job overall from where this program was in 1998, maybe it’s time to bring in some new blood. A foreigner who will not play favorites with Americans who think they own the game despite managing to fold faster than the French army in 1940. In 2010, we will most likely see the likes of Freddy Adu and some more talented young US players. DeMarcus Beasley will probably be back, as right now he is the most accomplished non goalie on roster, having actual success as a striker in Europe! And yes Donovan will be back, but hopefully, humbled and improved.

Until then, US fans need to stop blaming the referees for some conspiracy to get America. Believe it or not, the whistle blowers are not on Osama Bin Laden’s payroll. And stop complaining that everyone you played against “dove”. Like it or not it’s a part of the game, and it doesn’t explain why the US lacked creativity on the offensive end for a good two thirds of the World Cup. So please all of these people who won’t face facts remember one thing.

You know what one point in three games shows? That you’re not that good.

The US got one point in three games. Despite what those commercials or your heart want you to believe, they aren’t that good.

Shut up and deal with it.


Anonymous Martha said...

Wow weird -- my brain wrote a blog post on Sportszilla! Hear fucking hear, man, especially about that pussy Donovan. I'd much rather everyone here hate soccer, if Americans "liking it" means having to listen to this whining, ill-informed shit all the time. Thank god the US is out: Now everyone will go back to ignoring the sport, and the rest of us can watch in peace.

2:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm your typical US sports fan (by my own estimation) and I like the World Cup, it's the only soccer to which I pay attention. it's kind of like the Olympics. I don't care who wins the World Track Championships or the Euro-league (or whatever it's called) soccer championships, but I get into international competition, country vs. country, maybe it's the whole sports-as-suggrogate-civilized-war thing. Anyways, there is one part of that 'deadspin' post you didn't address; the flopping. The flopping the World Cup is absolutely ridiculous. As an avid football (american football that is) fan I cannot believe how long some players will roll around on the ground and then get up and continue playing with no obvious sign of injury. And the stretchers! In almost every game I watched there has been a player carted off on a stretcher, writhing and swirming, only to return in less than 5 minutes. Give me a FUCKING break! If a pro football player acted like that he would be intentionally injured to teach him a lesson, but no NFL player would consider doing that in the first place. Even NBA floppers bounce right back up if they don't get the call. I know (or hope I guess) that so many adult men cannot have such a ridiculously low pain tolerance, so it must be a problem with soccer culture. I don't mind not knowing the players, or the ties, or the nil-nil ties or the haircuts of most players at all, but the flopping and malingering makes me not want to watch. (Also not having stoppage time accounted for in an official manner, like starting clock when play is stopped, and stopping it when play resumes, then taking that total and using it as stoppage time seems idiotic for games that seems to be very important to the world at large.)

2:29 PM  
Blogger LDS on the Left said...

Yeah, the US Nats stunk it up, However, i can whine all i want!! please the ref sucked too, however we did not lose because of the ref, though he made it harder, we lost because our coach forgot what made them successful in Korea, NO FEAR!
Fire Arena Now!

can wait to see freddy in South Africa!

3:39 PM  
Blogger Ben Valentine said...

Flopping is a part of the game; not a popular one but it is part of it. I remember when I used to play in soccer camps run by ex English players; in one of their drills they actually called for us to fake injury. They called it "Italy" for obvious reasons. In any case, flopping did not result in any of the cards the US received and did not cost them anything. (Poor defense and marking on a set play led to the first Italian goal)

Kind of ironic though that the worst injuries in this cup that I saw, the Owen injury, the Cornell Glen injury and the Jan Koller one, either came on clean tackles or no tackle at all.

The refs sucked, but they sucked for everyone. Its not a disadvantage if no one has an edge. And the US' biggest difference in this World Cup from 2002 was the luck of the draw: Portugual, South Korea and Poland don't quite match up to the Czech Republic, Italy and Ghana.

Arena needs to go if only because the US needs someone completely different to shake things up. They need someone who will reward creativity and use the skills of the US players to their fullest potential. Arena did not do that this Cup and should go.

7:23 PM  

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