A monthly column about the State of U.S. Soccer that takes a hard look at everything from the performance of the U.S. National Teams to pro soccer in the good ‘ole U-S-of-A . If you're looking for a viewpoint that you won't see in a generic, nuts-and-bolts U.S. Soccer press release, you've come to the right place.
This month, we look back at last month's successful "Nike Road to Korea" and what Bruce and Co. learned from those three games going into the World Cup. But instead of carrying on in my usual verbose (read: long-winded) style, and because pretty much every topic surrounding this U.S. team has been beat to death by the overwhelming American and international press corps, I'm just going to hit you with some random thoughts a la literary legend (sarcasm) Larry King from his famously schizophrenic USA Today columns.
There's no team that deserves to be in the World Cup more than Holland. Is it too late to trade them for Slovenia? ... Who is the uniform supplier for Uruguay? I've seen better looking jerseys on Wednesday night beer league squads ... Maybe I’m biased, but the last good World Cup mascot (or Olympic mascot for that matter) was “Striker” the dog from USA ‘94. It’s sad that in Korea, he’d be made into soup ... David Regis is too mistake-prone in big games to be starting at left back. Wait, weren't we saying the same thing about Jeff Agoos four years ago? Isn't that why we went out and got the Frenchie in the first place? ... Speaking of the corn-rowed wannabe forward, how exactly do you pronounce his name? First, (former U.S. MNT head coach Steve) Sampson mistakenly called him RE-gis, then Bruce and the rest of us called him Ray-GHEE. Now it's Hur-ray-gees? There's just too much confusion, which is why I’m picking someone with a good ole fashioned name like John O’Brien at left back ... There are dozens of teams that belong in the World Cup more than Jamaica ... Did it feel to anyone else like Claudio Reyna's scorching shot on goal versus the Oranje was his first shot for the U.S. in years? Check your notes and you'll find that he hasn't scored for the U.S. in almost two years. Could this be reason enough to be playing him at more of a central or defensive midfield position, rather than an attacking/playmaking role? ... When reading about the power struggle, accusations and war of words between FIFA’s Blatter and Zen-Ruffinen, I can’t help but be reminded of trashy daytime soaps. Perhaps, “The Bold and the Beautiful”? Or “As FIFA Turns”? Or for Zen-Ruffinen, “One Month to Live” ... Could Clint Mathis BE on more covers? I wonder if we should be worried that national media so easily and willingly flocked to him, ignoring such talents as Reyna, Earnie Stewart and Eddie Pope, to name a few. One publication even referred to him as a male Mia Hamm, which of course is downright ridiculous. That said, the Men's team does need a bona fide star, and he looks to be a perfect fit. Equal parts performance and personality = superstar, and that seems to be where he's headed ... Kudos to Tony Sanneh, who proved versus Zenden that he can mark someone out of the game after all. But thn again, a World Cup tune-up is not the World Cup ... My choice in goal? Tony Meola. But only in practice, so neither Keller or Friedel gets injured. Only kidding. All three are great choices ... And finally, while my colleagues have made France and Argentina the favorites, for my money, Italy is the team to beat in Korea/Japan ... And what’s the deal with these new cellular phones? And why does my 6-year-old daughter have one?
Table of Contents
1) Armchair Midfielder ("Nike Road to Korea" according to Larry King)
2) Word Association (w/ MNT goalkeeper Brad Friedel)
3) At the Movies (w/ MNT midfielder DaMarcus Beasley)
4) Queries and Anecdotes (w/ Philips World Cup reporter and "Survivor: Africa" celeb Ethan Zohn)
5) Making it to the Show (w/ MNT defender Steve Cherundolo)
6) Mark That Calendar (The Opening Round -- June 5, June 10 and June 14)
7) Point/Counterpoint (w/ Soccer Broadcasters Ty Keough and Rob Stone)
8) "You Don't Know Jack (Marshall)" (General World Cup trivia)
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