Joshua Wells graces TSG again.
Following the USA vs. Brazil 4-1 drubbing in Landover, Maryland, Jurgen Klinsmann vented his spleen. He was forthright, honest about his feelings, and blunt about his disappointment.
As you watched the press conference, you knew that you were getting exactly what was inside of Jurgen’s head…well not exactly, because I’m sure it would have come out much smoother in German than English. So, you were getting a pretty close approximation of what was going on in Jurgen’s head.
He had some of his facts wrong. The penalty on Onyewu, while harsh, is probably going to be given 60-70% of the time. It looked to me like Pato was onside for the fourth goal, but I don’t think Jurgen had seen any replays, so we can forgive him that. Aside from the factual missteps, I absolutely loved what Jurgen had to say. He was…defiant.
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As an American, a fan of the United States National Teams, and a fan of soccer in general, I’ve spent the majority of my fandom hunkered down, happy for the little crumbs of indulgence tossed my way by the U.S. sports media.
In the early days of my fandom, before the internet was really in full bloom, I searched the dark hallways of the world wide web for drops of soccer knowledge from across the pond. I dug deep to find message boards and fanzines where I could humbly seek the wisdom of English or European fans of my favorite teams. I would roll with the jabs about my nation’s lack of soccer prowess and make a few self-deprecating stabs of my own. When podcasts started to proliferate, I downloaded them all, lusting after those delightful accents that provided enlightenment about a beautiful game that my neanderthal American mind could just barely comprehend. I studied the Guardian and Telegraph sport sections like archeologists studied the Rosetta Stone (the real Rosetta Stone, not the computer software for those of you who skipped humanities).
At a certain point, things changed.
Suddenly, I came to the realization that because I’m an American, and we’re awesome at getting what we want, I had access to and watched more soccer than anybody who wrote or talked about the sport for a living across the pond. Not only that, but I saw all kinds of soccer. EPL, MLS, La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga, K-League, A-League, SPL, Primera Division, and on and on…I saw it all. I learned to read a match like a book. I could critique lineups, formations, and substitutions with the best of them, and rarely did I hear points made by the experts that I hadn’t already thought of myself.
Around the same time, I saw my native soccer culture begin to change as well. The pastor at my church was asking me about the Champions League Final. My dad was watching big matches and asking me about them. My brothers became fans and started playing. I joined the Oklahoma City Chapter of American Outlaws (amazing right? AO has not one, but two chapters in Oklahoma).
My kids were playing in 6 and 7 year old leagues, and they were good, and not only were they good, but there
were are tons of really good players. Not the stereotypical rich white kid good either…there was flair, diversity, streetball craft, and excitement. I went to watch some local high school matches in the inner city, and far from being the lump it forward browbeating I expected, the matches were fluid, sharp, racially diverse, and even beautiful.
Sell out crowds were piling into stadiums in Portland, Seattle, Kansas City, and Salt Lake as MLS finally figured out that the sport would rise and fall with the dedicated soccer fan, and not the mini-van driving soccer moms (not including my wife Jill, who happens to be both and is also the best player I know. I considered genetics when I married, and I’m not ashamed to admit it).