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.



Part of my struggle with maintaining my blog was a personal debate between myself and...me. I couldn't adequately determine how much this "blog" would be a window into my own life—into my soul, if you will.
I still don't know if I've answered that question. I revel in mystery. I have made myself enigmatic. It's really been a goal of mine to shroud myself in the unknown. Usually I mention this as a joke, but we all know that jokes like this are born from reality.
If you ask my close friends, they may or may not agree with me (especially as of late, but that's a different matter). But I'm fairly certain that after an honest assessment, each one could say that I try.
I suppose I do it for a number of reasons. First and foremost, I think we all have a too strong a propensity to immediately judge other people. We judge their intentions, we judge their beliefs, we judge their looks—all of it. I can honestly say this just makes me want people to misjudge me, so one day I can show just how skewed our prejudices were, and maybe, through embarrassment perhaps, encourage us all to think twice before judging people.
Secondly, it's sexy.
For my third reason, I will point to privacy. When you are not forthright with everyone, you hold "secrets." Whether they're really secret or not, it's something that you have that others don't. It's a very powerful feeling.
I'm sure there are other reasons, but lately—and this is what has led to my personal debate—I've wondered if I haven't become a mystery unto myself. I'm trying to be more open about what I feel. I have protected my feelings for a long time, refusing to let anybody know them, but I feel now, that it's time for me to learn how to describe them—even if it's to myself. It's difficult.
My desire to be an enigma has caused me to have cultivated some amazing skills, one of which is empathy. I've learned to truly put myself in others situations, because I can project those situations onto me, a blank canvas.
But ultimately where does that put me, the canvas?