TSG is usually not one to comment secondarily on reporting.
In this case, we’ll make an exception.
Multiple news outlets this morning attributed the following quotes to Sunil Gulati in a press conference earlier today.
The first, on the Yanks missed chance to advance versus Ghana and what it means for the great good of “US Soccer:”
“It is also a missed opportunity to stay in the American public’s eyes for another four, five six days, maybe 10 days, when interest is at an all-time high. I have no doubt there will be people still watching at bars at strange times, the TV ratings will still be good, but what the ratings might have been for a quarterfinal game or dreaming beyond that. We clearly caught something in the last few weeks that we haven’t seen before. The job is to try to hold on to some part of that.”
The second paraphrased:
The USA has no plans to participate in the 2011 Copa America in Argentina.
“I think it ultimately comes down to players,” he said. “The expectations have to be realistic. The players that are representing the U.S. are not players at Arsenal and Inter and Real Madrid and Barcelona and Chelsea and Manchester United and so on. The players we were playing against in some of these situations are.”
To this writer, these three statements should be reviewed.
Let’s address the first two together.
On the surface, “marketing” is very simple. It’s about three things: Positivity of “signal” (“Landon Donovan scores the game winner against Algeria”), Strength of “signal” (The US were robbed versus Slovenia–more newspapers cried injustice than ever before) and Frequency of “signal” (The more games played at the World Cup level the better.)
While I sympathize with Gulati’s statement about the greater–and casual–public watching another Yanks’ match in the quarters–the positivity and strength of the signal would have been there–I think Gulati is certainly taking the wrong tone here in that commentary.
It’s quite an illusion to think that one mere additional game of the World Cup will almost in and of itself spur soccer on and send a message of pity thereafter.
To follow, the best way to reinforce the mostly positive signal that came out of South Africa is to play more high value tournaments within a short period of the World Cup’s close. That’s “frequency.”
Mexico and Japan join host Argentina at the 2011 Copa America. If I’m managing the United States–and rumors are the Yanks weren’t invited because they sent more of a “B” or even “C” squad back in 2007–I’m finding a way into that tournament that runs from during the same timing at the Gold Cup to face the same quality brand competition that enticed US fans during the World Cup.
Think about, what if Argentina wins the World Cup?
…and especially if Mexico is sending a team to both the Copa America and the Gold Cup. I’m not sure why the States can’t do similarly.
If I’m Gulati, the message from me should be one of “building,” not one of “lamenting” or “holding onto part of it” because it will take more than just another deep World Cup run for the States to continue to claim more soccer fans in the United States. For Gulati, the States need the frequency of play for continued relevance.
On to the third quote:
In concert with the third quote, Gulati made this statement, “The United States failed to meet expectations.” Good. The public and those who are objective likely see it that way and probably will take some solace in that conclusion.
However, dressing down the Coach–as Sunil did–and then acknowledging that the “US players are not members of top programs like Arsenal and Barcelona” is bogus and contradictory to leveling the “failed expectations” label. Which one is it?
The United States would have played Uruguay in their next match. You know how many players they have on their roster from Gulati’s aforementioned super teams? Goose eggs. Slovenia, which were narrowly nipped by the States, zilch. Slovakia who fell to the Netherlands today. Again zero.
And Ghana? Precisely one. Sulley Muntari who barely saw the pitch for the Black Stars on Saturday and who was a permanent member of Jose Mourinho’s Inter doghouse.
Sunil Gulati, your time to make your presence felt and do your best work is now–especially if you, and not Bob Bradley, are the new singular “organizational” face of the United States. Start it off on the right foot. Do some work.
More on Gulati’s comments here.