Our Boys

World Cup.
Two words that are ominous, dramatic, heartbreaking.
For the USA Men's National Team, the 2010 World Cup will ultimately be remembered more tenderly than most. More tenderly than 1998 when they went home ranked the worst of the tournament. More tenderly than 2006 when, after the best run in modern history (2002) we went home from the tournament early after tying the eventual champions. But ultimately, I think, in the end, this year will be remembered as a disappointment.
Stay with me here.
I realize that 2010 brought us our first win out of group play, even over England. Yeah, I get that. I understand that 2010 showed us how resilient our boys were, coming back and beating (yes, I said it) Slovenia, overcoming Algeria in the final minutes, and fighting back to force Ghana into extra time. Point taken. I can see how US Soccer will be forever changed with immense support from the homeland. These are all amazing feats, and they are really something we have to recognize and applaud.
But, when it comes down to it, this 2010 World Cup showed how much the USMNT has to grow.
England and USA. The favorites of the group. We overcame adversity, sure, but that adversity was self-afflicted. It does show a strong team psyche when you did what we did, that's a plus, but it shows weak character when the mistakes are committed over and over again.
You see, we can compete with any country in the world. Don't believe me? Look around! We beat the world number ones 2-0 last year (Spain), we fought down to the wire for a draw against the inventors of the game (England), and we held a 2-0 advantage to the men who perfected the game in our first international final last year (Brasil).
So what the hell is the problem?
After Our Boys ruined my weekend (the result seemingly had no effect on other fans watching the game), I think I've realized one of the issues. In all of our (U.S. soccer supporters) efforts to bring the joy of the game to more and more people around us, I think we've become soft towards the 'Nats results. Nowhere in the country will you read a newspaper tomorrow with interviews criticizing the poor performance out of the gates. You will read of how the U.S. has played "dramatically" and with "resilience." There will be no talk or rumor of a manager change (if there is, it will be soft), and overall, I believe the supporters will pat the boys on the back and say, "Well, done, men, you made it past group play, it was exciting, and maybe you'll have a better go at it in four years!"
(And no, MSNBC/Lovgren, this should NOT be considered a success.)
It's repulsive.
I'm not saying that we should all react like the French or the Italians after their (in my eyes, fitting) early departures. But maybe a little bite would help. We should be questioning Bradley's choice of Ricardo Clark after a fantastic performance by Maurice Edu. We should be asking ourselves why Edson Buddle, arguably the hottest American player on the team at the moment, saw 20 minutes of playing time out of the entire tournament. We should be wondering out loud why Carlos Bocanegra didn't electrify and fortify our back four. Why did Jozy Altidore perform so poorly? Why didn't he finish any of his chances? Why is Salt Lake's beloved Findley missing a 1v1 with the keeper? This is the world stage, and while we had a dramatic run, it was rather embarrassing the way Ghana was passing around us while we all stood around today. It was embarrassing that we finished and played with aggression only when we were cornered into it. It was embarrassing that we are going home today.
Look. Landon, Tim, Clint...every single one of you: I loved watching your enthusiasm. I loved seeing your heart when it came out on the field. I loved watching every game you all played. I love our boys. But it's the hardest love there is, and the fact that we're out at 16 makes it that much harder.
U.S. supporters: we have a job to do. No more cheering at results that were great 4, or even 8 years ago. We must come to expect solid play. We must expect precision finishes. We must expect glory. Each and every game we play, we must expect to win. There's no reason for losing anymore.
We have become the force of CONCACAF. People laugh at the weakness of our conference. They should laugh no more, because we should give them reason to be quiet.


  1. Oh, and by the way, I'm very, very, very, very unhappy about today's result. Just in case that wasn't clear.

  2. unfortunately my scouting duties prevented me from enjoying(?) the game yesterday. Maybe I got spared from having to live through another nail biter. I will say that this is the best world cup performance I've had the privilege of watching (I was in SC for 2002).
    It is time we demand more from our team, I'm not saying I didn't enjoy the three group play matches, but we're no longer flying under the radar. Teams are looking forward to playing the Americans. It's time to rise up to the challenge, to dominate group play, not squeak by in the 90+ minute.