Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Four "must-happens" for the US to contend at the 2014 World Cup

I’ve heard a lot of talk lately about what the US needs to do to become a World Cup contender.  Let me tell you, firing Bob Bradley is not going to cut it.  No personnel changes within the US national soccer program will catapult the US into the top tier of international soccer.  The change needs to be bigger: much bigger.  Here are the 4 things that need to happen for the US to win the 2014 World Cup.
4. Bye bye Bob Bradley.  That’s the easy one.  If any of you have a legitimate reason to keep him as the US head coach, please, enlighten us; at this point, I think even Bob Bradley’s not sure what Gulati (President of United States Soccer Federation) sees in him.  And for more reasons to axe him, well, see below.
3. Seek more contribution from our younger players.  It’s a new age of soccer.  World class players are rising at younger ages than ever (Messi, Rooney, Fabregas) and I’m not sure that older guys can keep up with the newcomers.  If you’re scratching your head, think back to what the young Mexican attackers did to our veteran defense.  Yeah, it wasn’t pretty.  At 22 and 23, Giovanni dos Santos and Chicharito don’t look like they need another few years to develop, and a 32-year-old Carlos Bocanegra looked like my grandmother trying to catch a butterfly.  Amusing, but not going to happen.   
2. Sabotage.  That’s right, sabotage.  It’s unlikely that the US will beat a team like Italy.  But it’s even more unlikely that they will beat Italy, then Spain, then Brazil.  That’s what it takes to win a World Cup.  But say we pull a few political strings.  Say Spain better not play David Villa unless they want, I don’t know, complete economic collapse.  The same goes for you Brazil.  Maybe the US’s chances are pretty good after all.
1. Pray.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

A farewell to coach Bob Bradley

After going up two goals in tonight's Gold Cup final against Mexico, US head coach Bob Bradley opted for a more feminine style of play.
"I'm just really glad that no one was hurt.  It gets pretty messy out there," Bradley said in a fictitious interview.  "After all, it's just a game."
Mexico went on to score four consecutive goals, winning the match 4-2.  Soon after, Bradley announced his stepping down from the head coach position.
"I've never told anyone this, but my dream has always been to go into uniform design."
Leading the rally for a good, clean game was none other than Michael Bradley, coach Bob Bradley's son.
"After I scored at the beginning of the game, daddy told me I had done well and could take a break for the rest of the game.  He even promised he'd build that treehouse I've always wanted!"
This is not the first time Bob Bradley's US team has blown a two-nil lead in the championship game.  In 2009, the team led Brazil 2-0 at halftime in the Confederations Cup final when Bradley had a similar lapse of mind.
On the bright side, the US has all the tools to be successful at the international level (Dempsey, Donovan, Adu, Agudelo...): what's lacking is a man to weave them all together.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Gold Cup Finals

The US meets rival Mexico Saturday night in the final match of the 2011 Gold Cup.  Mexico has looked a strong side the entire tournament, despite the suspension of five players in a doping scandal.
The US, on the other hand, has looked far shakier on the path to the final match.  Losing to Panama in the group stages, the side barely slipped by in the semi-final rematch, thanks to a clutch performance by Landon Donovan who came on as a substitute (for reasons only God and Bob Bradley know).  The major talking point of this 1-0 win was the heroic and timely comeback of Freddy Adu.  The Benfica forward entered the game as a late sub and proved that he still has the speed and foot-skills to perform at the international level.  
My prediction for Saturday: 3-2, US takes home the cup.
I give Mexico two goals only because Chicharito is a goal-machine.  The guy has scored seven goals in four games this tournament, and allotting him anything less than two goals is a slight on his ability and may trigger his goal-scoring wrath upon the US.  I wish no such wrath upon my countrymen.  
Chicharito, be appeased.

A call to all soccerheads

This is a blog for all the soccerheads of the world (I say all grudgingly, Man U fans).  Let me define my terms:
if you could juggle before you could walk;
if your boots cost more than your mortgage;
if in times of need you ask, "What would Messi do?";
then you qualify as a soccerhead.
And if you don't...well, you'll get there.
The purpose of this blog is to give soccerheads a safe haven until the next Clasico (ie Real Madrid vs. Barcelona, for all not-quite-yet fanatics). 
I was recently watching baseball "highlights" on SportsCenter (yes, notice highlights are parenthesized) when I decided that my efforts at post-Premier League entertainment were futile.  Then, the epiphany: unite the soccerheads of the world in a World Cup-esque manner, assuaging off-season woes.
So this is it.  The soccer square.  Where the beautiful game lives on while baseball hogs the TV.
Humor, boot reviews, and much soccer-talk to come.