Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Morning After: USA 1, Algeria 0

I hope you didn’t miss the moment.

By that, I mean, I hope you have been following the entire generation of US Soccer. The moment, was merely a moment. But, the story is really over a decade in the making.

You see, France 1998 was a very humiliating time for US Soccer. We were beaten badly and dismissed as the 32nd best team in a 32 team field. It was clear that while we were now clearly better than our neighbors in Canada and Guatemala, we were not close to being a consistent threat to play with the big boys in the World Cup.

I hope you saw Landon Donovan back in 2000 play in the Summer Olympics and debut with the senior national team as such a young teenager.

I hope you woke up at 3:30 in the morning in 2002 to watch our boys upset Portugal and then ultimately knock our rivals, Mexico, out in the knockout stage. It was wonderful.

I also hope you were excited and then devastated by the 2006 World Cup. We obviously did not finish the Bruce Arena era properly. 1 goal scored? No wins? Surely we were way better than 2006 showed. What happened to the promise of Donovan and DaMarcus Beasley? And who was this new star from Texas, Clint Dempsey?

I hope you have followed the legacy of the US goalkeepers. From Meola to Keller to Friedel to Howard. Somehow, we grow goalies like few other countries. If only we could find defenders of the same quality.

I hope you have followed the qualifiers. All of those amazingly rewarding and gutting nights in El Salvador, Honduras, Chicago, and Salt Lake City. And then another trip to Azteca Stadium where we took the lead last summer, only to concede to the Mexicans in the final moments.

I hope you know about the Davies and Gooch injuries that we thought might derail our train. I hope you know about 5-0 in the Gold Cup Final. I hope you know about the Confederations Cup dream run last summer that started with that miracle against Egypt. I hope you know about the coach’s son who might be the real heart beat of the team.

If you know about all of this, then you fully comprehend why those 11 seconds on Wednesday morning brought tears to our eyes. You understand, and maybe you were right there with us.

This was not about beating Algeria. This was about Bob Bradley’s job. And Landon Donovan’s legacy. And US Soccer’s reputation. For the first time since 1930, the United States put out a soccer team that could win it’s group in the World Cup. For the first time, the US gained a result in the final game of group play.

So, if you are not sure why people are going on and on about the 11 seconds that it took the ball to go from Tim Howard to Landon to Jozy to Clint and back to Landon and into the net, please know this: It was about the decade-long journey. And it cannot be fully explained in an easy sound bite.

The dream may come to a screeching halt very soon, but we will always have the pride of these last 3 matches. The fact is we are not ready to win a World Cup as a nation. But, we have come so far. And you should not miss the rest of the journey.


Jay Beerley said...

What gets me excited will be future stud athletes that maybe will give soccer a chance in this country. Because, hey, as big as Lebron is, he will NEVER get this kind of stage, with this kind of passion. Hopefully some good years to come. Enjoying the run, though.
(but, isn't the state of officiating disturbing regardless of outcome? Is this really the best FIFA has to offer us in the whole world?)

zencarver said...

Hear, hear, Bob. That was well worded, and almost exactly describes what that solitary kick meant to me.

Yellow Rose of Texas said...

Thank you Bob for a great commentary. I am proud of team USA.

Yellow Rose of Texas said...

Great commentary Bob. Thanks for reminding us of what all this is about. Proud of our team USA.

Christy said...

I am so glad and thankful that you are a host on the sports station I listen to. I am so glad and thankful there's a host who "gets it" when it comes to certain sporting events/or certain sporting moments. And while I admit I'm not as aware as you are (because you're not just some dude in the next cubicle over) about the U.S. men's soccer team's history and in what the win truly meant in the team's journey thus far, I was swept up in the moment of the win, in how the fates were toying with the team, and in how the team was on the brink of elimination in the cruelest of fashions.

Thank you for expressing my overall sentiments out loud through the various forums at your disposal (and educating me in the process). I'm sure you're way past caring that the majority of Americans put down certain sports you follow, but this is one P1 who appreciates your tastes and what you uniquely bring to The Ticket.

Thunderpuck said...

I'd like to first thank Christy for the wonderful reply. You've summed up exactly how thankful I am that we have someone like Bob here in N. Texas for the last decade and a half. Not only does this guy "get it" but he has an incredible skill for helping others to as well.

Also, I wanted to second what Jay Beerley said above concerning officiating at this World Cup. I've spent many, many years trying to introduce and sell people on sports like soccer (and hockey) but it's a pretty tough sell when you have officiating as pathetic as we've seen at the 2010 WC.

Nevermind the 2 disallowed American goals that were clearly good (although one of them ruined what I believe may have been the greatest comeback game in USA history) but there are literally dozens of missed or inaccurate calls in each game I've seen. It's a disgrace, and even though the rest of the world could care less if America ever embraces futbol, the fact is, we never will as long as you have officiating (and endless diving/flopping) like we've seen in this WC.