I’m left with more questions than answers as the dust settles on the American’s run at the 2014 FIFA World Cup tonight. As a bit of background, as someone who has worked in sports, loves sports, listens to sports on the radio, and seeks out live sporting events of all types on television – I allow myself to turn into a full fledged fan (short for fanatic) for two or three teams, primarily. The USA men’s soccer team, the Chicago Bears, and the Chicago Blackhawks. You can, if you’d like, call me a “Fan Boy” in regards to these teams.
This means I scream at the television during their games, pump my arms when good things happen, and often times set my calendar based on their schedules. I am a Cubs fan as well, but at 162 contests per season, it doesn’t get the same energy from me as the others do. The Chicago Fire get plenty of my energy, and a growing amount of my unbridled fandom. I follow MLS closely, more than most soccer fans I know.
This fandom, combined with my unapologetic fascination with Twitter, means I process things I read from all different directions quickly, while at the same time trying to reserve judgment on most ‘viral’ or trending topics.
I’ve greatly reduced my consumption of pregame shows of all kinds (on purpose, even if I magically find the time) over the last 5-6 years, I didn’t watch the ESPN documentary (or whatever it was) of the USA team over the last month or so, and I think in-game interviews with coaches, managers, and the like are ridiculous. For this reason, I love Greg Popovich’s in-game, on camera efforts.
So on Tuesday night, after watching extra time in the US’s 2-1 loss and training a new young goalkeeper for the first time in a 1-on-1 session, I continue to read the debate about US Soccer’s strengths, weaknesses, and so on. We all seem to know the best way to develop players, the best countries, the worst countries, the best fitness drills, exactly why Messi or Ronaldo is ABSOLUTELY better than the other.
I’m left wondering how these declarations are so definitive.
Major League Soccer sucks. Tiki-taka is dead. MIchael Bradley is awful. Michael Bradley is better than this. Michael Bradley is our best option at that position. James Rodriguez pronounces his name HAHM-ez – and all those clubs missed on him? Alexi Lalas is an idiot. Taylor Twellman says stupid stuff all the time. Jurgen Klinsmann is so smart. Jurgen Klinsmann is an idiot. FIFA is awful. Luis Suarez is a crazy person. Luis Suarez should have been banned for life. Luis Suarez’s suspension is too long. Penalty kicks are awesome. Penalty kicks are cruel.
The ball is round, folks. That’s what we know. Very little beyond that is off limits when debating this great game.
The ESPN bottom line kept reminding us about Messi’s assist tonight. Sure, his effort was spectacular. But the narrative seems more important than the result. I’m getting tired of your approach, Booyah Network.
Here’s what I’m realizing this World Cup finals:
I’m going to apply for an American Outlaws chapter in Dubuque, Iowa.
I will explain this game to anyone who will listen, generally any time, anywhere. If you already know the game, I’ll debate the intricacies of it at length in person (or in the comments), not on Twitter.
We rely more on a country’s past than we do their present when analyzing teams at the World Cup level. Tell me more about what you see today, in this 90 minutes, not how it compares to what we know about them historically. This tournament happens every four years, not every four weeks.
I believe CONCACAF is gobs better than people give it credit for. Plenty will disagree. I stand by it.
I’m gonna grow a Tim Howard beard this fall. I did the long-haired thing as a graduate assistant. This seems like the 30-something thing to do. Michael Mueller will be happy about this. You are a dirty, dirty man, Michael.
You’re allowed to hate the other team’s goalkeeper, but you better love the hell out of yours. #Howard #Navas #Ochoa
Somewhere in my Twitter timeline you’ll find my early admiration for both Kyle Beckerman (pictured) and DeAndre Yedlin. Klinsmann’s agreement is either a testament to my vision of the game or makes me an idiot. LIke I said, the ball is round.
I’ll gladly take part in a United States Soccer Federation open forum on how to take this game to the next level in our country. Development, marketing, player selection, or whatever. I’ll pull up a chair, listen, and contribute. Call me, Sunil. I can be at the Soccer House in Chicago in about three hours.
I can’t wait to be in Costa Rica in a month with the Duhawks.
Peace, love, and soccer.