Op-Ed: Buy-In Time Is Nigh

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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.

“The machine here works just fine.”

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.

* * *

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.

Beaconing….

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).

American soccer criticism and writing was as good as, if not better, than much of what was being done overseas, especially in the blogosphere.  Last, but not least, the United States finally hired the big time manager that it had lusted after ever since he retired his Bayern Munchen polo shirt for good.

* * *

Klinsmann was brought in to change a culture, not just manage the national team.

For too long, the USMNT had mirrored its fans.  Recognizing that it wasn’t as talented as most (even some of the CONCACAF minnows it qualified against), the USMNT was happy to grind the opposition down with grit, fitness, and sweat equity.  Getting out of the group every four years was the goal, and on those rare occasions we were on the same pitch as the world’s behemoths, we were just happy to be there.  Klinsmann’s directive was to change all of that.  That’s why we’re playing friendlies against Brazil, Italy, Spain, Slovenia, and France.  That’s why Klinsmann has shook up our youth system and been willing to pull young talent from wherever he can find it.  That’s why he makes our guys compete for their jersey numbers, and that’s why he was so pissed off after the Brazil match.  At least in Jurgen’s mind, not every player in the USMNT player pool has bought in.

As I compare the two teams that played on Wednesday night, the USMNT had no reason to be in awe of Brazil.  Sure there were big names out there.  Hulk is a beast.  Neymar is titillating.

Marcello, when he’s not too busy being a prick, is a brick wall on the left and explosive going forward.

Poetic

However, Michael Bradley, Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Fabian Johnson, and Tim Howard could all walk into just about any national team in the world right now. Has there ever been a time when you could say that about so many USMNT players?  Sure, Brazil is more talented, but Klinsmann knows that as of right now, there’s no reason the USMNT should feel inferior or be intimidated to step on the field with anybody in the world.  Now he’s pleading with his players to buy into that and be bosses because of it.  As American soccer fans, it’s time we bought in as well.

* * *

It was an understated simmering anger at first.  The final whistle hadn’t even blown yet before the condescending tweets began and the scribes began penning their articles aimed at soccer novices.  “Italy didn’t bring a full squad. It was just a friendly. It doesn’t mean anything.”

The USMNT had done something nobody expected them to do, beating Italy 1-0 in Genoa.  I didn’t mind so much because those statements were true, but part of me was already saying, “They think we’re idiots who are incapable of enjoying a historic win without giving it proper perspective.  They think they need to set these dumb Americans straight.”

The following week it seemed that every time the USA’s win over Italy was brought up, more time was spent convincing dumb Americans that it didn’t matter than actually breaking down how we played.

Three months later we played Scotland.

Frankly, it was one of the most exciting performances I’ve ever seen from a USMNT.  The fact that Scotland wasn’t very good didn’t matter to me.  I had not seen a USMNT play anything like the high pressure, fluid, creative soccer that they played against Scotland, and I’ve watched them play, and even lose to much worse opposition than Scotland.  Once again, the narrative was, “We the soccer media need to enlighten dumb American fans.  Scotland is bad.  It’s just a friendly.  It doesn’t matter. Now I bet these ignorant soccer fans believe they’re going to walk over Brazil.”

Four days later we played Brazil.

The scoreline was harsh, but we were well beaten.  However, the second half was a blast.  Going forward we were a menace, creating chance after chance and forcing Brazil’s first time goalkeeper into a brilliant performance.  Our chances weren’t just from long balls or set pieces either, but came at the end of quick passing and creative play.  Despite the scoreline, I was glad to see us play our style and punch back.  I was disappointed, but optimistic.  Predictably, the narrative of this match became, “That was a wakeup call for America.  They were getting a bit high on the hog after that Scotland match.  This will take them down a peg.  These dumb American soccer fans were handed a good old fashioned reality check.”

My blood was finally brought to a boil with a tweet from an English soccer commentator (whom I actually like so I won’t give his name) which said, “Many will disagree, but until US fans and media find 4-1 homes losses unacceptable, US will not become an elite team.”

Once again, dumb Americans don’t know how to be true soccer fans.  Sigh.

* * *

My response…“blow me.”

Let me take that back, what I meant to say was, “BLOW ME.”

England’s national team is a joke and has been for most of my life.  Their FA is clueless, and the top English league isn’t even English anymore.  Americans, Russians, and Saudis own the best clubs in England and their teams are filled with players from…well, not England.  Their fans and media have so little perspective that every match the national team plays could be cause to fire their manager.  The English media is a joke and spends more time covering the shopping endeavors of WAGS or showing photos of some dumb blondes’ tits than providing any real soccer insight.

I need advice from the English, or any European for that matter, on how to be a soccer fan about as much as I need a second urethra.  We’re doing just fine, and we haven’t even touched the tip of the iceberg.  The potential for soccer talent, wealth, fandom, and success in this country is literally unmeasurable.

Sure we have a long ways to go, but even in our infancy, we’re finishing ahead of England in our World Cup qualifying group.  Go cheer for your dying regimes and corrupt FAs in your crumbling stadia.  I’m an American soccer fan, and if I need you to provide perspective on my team’s wins and losses, I’ll beat it out of you.  Until then, keep your Euro-soccer snobbery to yourself.  The dumb American fans you think you’re talking down to don’t exist.

Buy-in time is nigh.

There is no longer any reason for American soccer fans to be ashamed in front of anybody.  We have our own culture, our own experts, and we support our teams in our way and do it well.  Not only that, but we’re getting better and growing from strength to strength.  I’m buying into Jurgen’s defiance.  If he’s going to undertake a culture change, I’m willing to come along for the ride.

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121 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Paul on 2012/05/31 at 6:25 PM

    Finally, could not have even dreamed of saying it better than this. I’ve argued this for years now. In the words of Team America: World Police, “America, FUCK YEAH!”

    Reply

  2. Posted by Kartik on 2012/05/31 at 6:28 PM

    RIGHT THE EFF ON!

    Actually, the non-eurosnobish Americans who are diehard fans of US soccer and support it through thick and thin are some of the most well-knowledgeable anywhere. Suck on that Europe.

    Reply

  3. Posted by robb on 2012/05/31 at 6:43 PM

    Great read! Well said. I liked BB but it’s nice to see some fire & bite from a manager. I am sure that what he expects from the players too, some fight. I love the “get nasty” line. We all know what he means, not dirty but not rolling over and taking crap from the Brazils of the world. It’s cool to see how far the team has come in a year tactically & technically but it seems they need to work on the mental aspect.

    Reply

  4. Posted by lukesandblom on 2012/05/31 at 6:49 PM

    it’s cool, and probably accurate, that 5 of our players can play with just about anybody. i’d also say that boca, cherundolo and jones aren’t far behind

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  5. Posted by Adkins on 2012/05/31 at 6:59 PM

    Fantastic post! It pisses me off when I hear all of this condescending talk from commentators.

    Reply

  6. Posted by AsoccerD on 2012/05/31 at 7:00 PM

    I’d say Boca, Cherundolo and Jones are very far behind…

    I definitely agree with your main point but I am not happy with Klinsmann saying we need to hurt players. That isn’t smart. Keep working them, find some Centerbacks and get them playing proper defense.

    Reply

    • Posted by landongauthier on 2012/06/01 at 3:34 PM

      However, Cherundolo captains a side that finished 7th in the Bundesliga and Jones made 27 appearances for a side that finished 3rd in the Bundesliga. Jones played his boots off in the Scotland game amongst others, and has been a much improved presence in the midfield since coming into the team. Boca has put his shift in for the U.S. and while I wouldn’t say he’s up there with the rest, I would say he isn’t far behind.

      I do agree that defensively, improvement is much needed. Timmy Chandler will be solid at the left back position and I could see Lichaj taking over for Dolo, but the search for proven center backs is still on in my mind.

      Reply

    • Posted by Scott on 2012/06/02 at 2:07 AM

      Where the hell did Klinsmann say we need to hurt players? Nasty means playing with a mean streak, which means playing with higher emotion and more physicality. There’s nothing dirty about that. It means going in hard, but fair and showing nothing will be given away for free. That’s not dirty, that’s desire.

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      • Posted by Scott on 2012/06/02 at 12:35 PM

        Your are correct. Nasty means dropping your shoulder while challenging for the ball. Nasty is going in hard and if you you step on a foot while going for the ball, so be it. Nasty means bodying someone off the ball when they challenge for it…and keeping the ball. Nasty means laughing at the faker, not helping him up. Nasty is harassing the ref when he is making bad calls. Nasty is getting in their jock strap, when defending, not breaking down and marking time 5 yards off the ball. If you had a problem with JK’s comments, you are weak and part of the problem. You remind me of the parents that complain when their son takes a shoulder charge and falls down. I get mad when my son is shoulder charged and complains. I expect him to know it is coming and avoid it or take it in stride. It is part of soccer, it is physical, it is a man’s game (not sure how you translate that for women ballers that get it) that is physical and sometimes brutal. Not every player has to play this way. For example, Donovan will never be this player, but the team identity should be such that while Donovan may take the high road, I am coming later in the game. Now Donovan has an edge because you know that I, Jones, or someone like us is lurking. Part of taking that next step is physical and mental toughness. Thank you JK for publicly acknowledging the facts. “Play the ball, not the man” goes out the window when you are playing my guys and not the ball. If you hear your friends shying away from JK’s talk, then know this, push comes to shove…they will not have your back. Try your weak philosophy in baseball (they will throw at your guy all night long), football (they will beat you into the ground), basketball (good luck getting into the paint), i think you get the picture. Gentle talented people fail every day in every sport. You can turn the other cheek, just make sure you keep the ball and move forward!

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  7. You nailed it brother! I couldn’t have said it better. The only thing you forgot mention was how poor and detrimental Ian Darke’s commentary is to US soccer. He embraces the mentality you speak of in your article. We need soccer savy Americans covering OUR team. USA!

    Reply

    • Posted by Noah on 2012/06/01 at 9:10 AM

      But Drake’s voice is so soothing….How will we wever forget GO GO LANDON DONOVAN!

      Reply

  8. Posted by Tyler on 2012/05/31 at 7:09 PM

    this is incredible.

    Reply

  9. Posted by Granted on 2012/05/31 at 7:12 PM

    Loved this post. The patronizing nature of some Europeans is beyond me. We are really onto something big, and I’ve never been more excited. Our culture will continue to grow while other countries sit on the status quo and try to convince themselves they’re better than us.

    Reply

  10. Posted by Vineyarddawg on 2012/05/31 at 7:16 PM

    (Knocks on England’s window)
    Do you like Apples?
    Well, we won the group in the 2010 World Cup.
    How do you like them apples?

    Reply

  11. Posted by vik on 2012/05/31 at 7:28 PM

    I enjoyed this; I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels this way.

    Reply

  12. Posted by Bob on 2012/05/31 at 7:32 PM

    AWESOME! Not that I am down about the loss to Brazil, but I really needed to read this tonight! +1000! GO GO USA!!!

    Reply

  13. Posted by tyler on 2012/05/31 at 7:38 PM

    I literally almost crapped myself while reading this. I love everything about this. Well said and great work.

    Reply

  14. Posted by 2tone on 2012/05/31 at 7:48 PM

    Great read. And I totaly agree. It’s time to be a defiant nation when it comes to soccer now. Our own analysts are not buying into an attacking style. You have the Twellmans of this world that continue to say we need to play a defensive counter-attack style against the Italy’s etc… Klinsmann was brought in to change the culture of playing defensive to attack minded against the big Soccer nations. He was not brought in to play attacking soccer against Costa Rica, Hunduras, and Panama. Our Analysts need to get on board too!!!!! Thats the problem with our mentality. The mentality needs to change for all our players at every level. So what if you are playign against Brasil, Portugal, France etc… Go out and play your game, and stop putting these countries on a pedestal.

    That is what Klinsmann is trying to preach “STOP” putting the Brasil’s, Italy’s, Argentina’s up on pedestals.

    Reply

  15. Posted by david on 2012/05/31 at 7:48 PM

    Hell yeah

    Reply

  16. Posted by Thomas on 2012/05/31 at 8:21 PM

    Best Effin line – “I need advice from the English, or any European for that matter, on how to be a soccer fan about as much as I need a second urethra.” Brilliant!

    Reply

    • Posted by KickinNames... on 2012/06/01 at 7:14 AM

      Ummmm….if you think about it, you could drain your bladder twice as fast with a second urethra…not to be contrary but..more quality time at the bar….just sayin…

      Reply

  17. Posted by Tim on 2012/05/31 at 8:23 PM

    Great read.

    Reply

  18. My my, somebody is an insecure little so and so, aren’t they? I am guessing the rant aimed at England is because you do not know what the non-English language media are reporting about the US team? Do you share DNA with Alexi Lalas per chance?

    Listen, many England fans do not read the RedTops for actual news. We are very aware that we have not won anything for a long time, and presently, we are not among the world’s elite. But that is what you get in a proper football country, where it is the No.1 sport, you think Germany, Italy, Spain, France or Brazil are any different? It is called fandom and desperation. Just think of Red Sox fans per-2004. But you know this because you grew up reading English papers, right? You talk about UK media sensationalism, then say 5 of your players could walk into any team in the world. Is that deliberate irony and / or sarcasm?

    The anti-European rant is quite puzzling to be honest, considering you’ve imported German talent to head your National team (and to play in your team). And examining US football culture, supporters groups, club and national, basically try to copy and replicate it straight from the terraces of Europe.

    Fans and writers alike, even here on TSG, use Britishisms when talking about The Beautiful Game because they think it is cool and adds to their football IQ. But I guess you have one little bit of stadium culture – and that’s to play music over the tannoy to create an artificial atmosphere because there really isn’t one otherwise. Apart from the 100 or so said Supporter’s Group…

    BTW, yes, the US finished top of Group C in the World Cup, on Goals For mind, but you were literally seconds from being knocked out completely. But credit where credit is due – you played 3 games and got X, we played 3 games and got less than X. Fair play. But if England are so bad, why did the US team celebrate as if they won the World Cup because they got a draw against a shite team? Doesn’t add up.

    Keep calm, and carry on.

    Reply

    • See Exhibit A Above

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      • That is an extremely educated and well thought out response. Thank you, Sir.

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        • You’re welcome, Sir.

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        • George don’t blame you for taking offense. I immediately thought of you when I read this article. I’m just learning the game. Have been following it hard for a bout 5 years. Read as many blogs and go to as many sites as I can. With that being said, I think what the US team needs is exactly what was said here. I also think whether you would like to admit it or not, what was said about the average Euro fan is what we actually perceive here in the US. As one person once said, “Perception is reality”. A lot of ardent US fans perceive conceit, and arrogance from the basic euro fan. Many of who have won little more than we have. They have just played game longer. Comments like “But that is what you get in a proper football country” lead us to believe that you think you are better than us and always will be. So you shouldn’t be amazed when we get offended, just as I am not amazed that you were offended.

          One last thought, and I say this with a smile and not a sneer, the day is fast approaching when the US will be a soccer/football force. Maybe not a Power as Ian Darke said Wednesday night, but we will be a force to be reckoned with. One of the best lines in one of my favorite movies…”Get off the tracks, because the train is coming.” Have a good day all, and enjoy the game, I am going to.

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      • Posted by Jason on 2012/06/01 at 2:46 PM

        I think I’ve found the real Exhibit A: http://www.independent.ie/sport/soccer/euro-2012/irish-news/euro-2012-is-robbie-ready-to-rumble-3124483.html

        I might even agree with some of the authors points but the condescending tone just makes me want to find this man and shake him! Robbie Keane probably won’t be destroying defenses at Euro 2012 but not because the MLS has made him a worse player or allowed him to be out of shape (both alluded to in the article). It is because he hasn’t been playing with world-class form (in the “lesser” MLS I might add) so it is unlikely to expect him to suddenly snap out of it.

        I know it isn’t about our National Team but I think it displays some of the “euro-snobbery” discussed above.

        Reply

        • Posted by sfshwebb on 2012/06/01 at 4:10 PM

          Jason – I think this article actually demonstrates the major problem with MLS. A team and players can coast along for an entire season, get hot and inspired in the playoffs and win it all. Keane doesn’t have to be sharp when he plays in the MLS until playoff time and it’s showing at international level. As was clearly shown in the EPL this year, a team cannot take a single game off as every single game and goal counts.

          This is also perfectly illustrated in Michael Bradley. Last year, he was was getting sporadic first team football at best, and was inconsistent bordering on ineffectual for the USMNT. Now after a good year, with regular, meaningful games for Chievo, he has improved and clearly playing better than ever before. He’s sharp and focused, everything that the article suggests Keane is not. Is that a reflection of the MLS…yes. It’s not the quality of the league, which is lower then the top tier, but the fact that you can coast through the season. As the article said, when he last played for Ireland, during the end of the MLS season, he was much leaner and sharper (because he was of the mentality that every game was important). Now he is short of confidence because the MLS season isn’t inspiring him, cause they don’t have to worry…yet.

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          • Posted by 2tone on 2012/06/01 at 7:40 PM

            I disagree. If you want to make the play-offs you must bring your “A’” game every game or miss making it to the big dance. To say the regular season doesn’t matter smacks of eurosnobery as well.

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            • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2012/06/01 at 9:18 PM

              What percentage of team out of each Conference makes it to the playoffs? (Finger to lips), ssshhh…

            • Posted by sfshwebb on 2012/06/01 at 11:05 PM

              If you finish second, third, fourth or fifth, you still can win the championship. Losing a game(s) does not affect you as much. I also didn’t say that regular season doesn’t matter at all, but just the fact that you can coast and still win.

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/05/31 at 8:30 PM

      For those new to TSG, GeorgeCross is a welcome and valuable contributor to TSG. He’s a good sport for providing objectivity. Please–for the newbies–be fair and impersonal in commentary and rebuttal commentary.

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      • Honestly George, I picked on the English because the comment that set me off was made by an Englishman. It could have been anybody from anywhere, and American analysts can be just as condescending.

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      • Sorry, I read your post after I wrote mine this morning. Hope I didn’t cross the line. Sincerely trying to add light to the discussion. It was not mean spirited, at least not in my mind.

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    • Posted by Matt Mathai on 2012/05/31 at 9:22 PM

      George, you know the answer to your last question as well as anyone. Most of the condescension heaped on American soccer comes from England. I’ve seen it and read it for years. Trust me, it gets very old, very tiring, and ultimately, infuriating.

      The piece exaggerated a bit here and there to make a point, but the emotion and passion in it were dead on. Absolutely dead on.

      People in this country use Britishisms to describe the game (a practice I find intensely annoying, by the way) because that’s the bulk of the TV coverage we get here. Not a big surprise.

      Regarding how we won the group in the last WC, it doesn’t matter. We won, and it was a serious marker of progress. World Cups have been won on disputed calls about balls that might have crossed a goal line. That doesn’t matter either. It’s a bottom-line business, as you know.

      Your crack about piped-in noise in the stadium is hopelessly out-of-date. Do I recall correctly that you’re in the New England area? If so, please don’t use the Gillette Stadium experience as a proxy for the MLS experience.

      The US is in the process of growing up, both in its capability for high-level play, and in the sophistication of its soccer audience.

      Re: TV coverage, I don’t know if you were around in the early 80s and 90s, but the World Cup was shown with commercials, and regular TV coverage consisted of a single hour-long weekly German highlights show. Now I have three 24×7 soccer channels available, and there are several other channels that show at least one match a week.

      Re: the standard of play, I don’t believe that the 1990 US World Cup team could have beaten a current decent MLS side. By any measure, though, the current US squad is improving rapidly, and has become a team that not many teams can afford to take lightly. Friendly or not, we shredded and embarrassed Scotland, a team that we’d just hope to stay with less than a decade ago. Partly that’s due to Scotland’s decline, but it’s also due to our improvement. Yesterday’s scoreline was a bit deceiving. Our defense was beaten in large part because we haven’t settled on our personnel and many of those players don’t have enough game time under their belt. Once we got over the awe of playing Brazil, we got into the game a bit and began to show better movement and ideas. Brazil was under some serious pressure towards the end. We still have a way to go before we can seriously challenge the very best countries on a consistent basis, but every rational American fan understands that it’s a process. I don’t believe it’s all that far away, though.

      Times change. Soccer powers rise and fall. I caution you not to be too dismissive of a country that is on the rise.

      Reply

      • I used to live in Boston, now New York, so my comments about “creating an artificial atmosphere” is mainly aimed at NYRBs, which I go to frequently. It is not great, but that’s all I have locally – but I am ultimately grateful that I have a team I can watch regularly, I know there are many parts of the country that don’t have a local MLS.

        If you think the British media is condescending, why do you read it? Most US papers have their own section these days, and there’s always FOX, ESPN and SI. It would be like me reading the SMH and then crying about their coverage of English rugby or cricket? I do read it, and it makes me smile, rather than insecure, angry and emotional.

        Thanks for the non-aggressive reply Matt, hope you’re well.

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        • Posted by Matt Mathai on 2012/06/01 at 9:18 AM

          I don’t understand why teams insist upon piping in music. I think it shows a lack of respect for their fans. Kevin Payne made a commitment to me before our first season that they would never play music or do any cheerleading over the speakers while the ball was in play. They’ve stuck to that, I’m happy to report.

          I read everything I can find that deals with American soccer, not just the British media. Besides, not reading it would make me miss the day when they finally grudgingly admit that the level of the game in the US has improved markedly. :)

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        • Posted by thedudeandwalter on 2012/06/02 at 10:34 AM

          I go to the Red Bulls constantly and I dont see the piping in the music during the game etc or creating an artificial atmosphere (they def do play music before the game starts).
          What I do see is an ownership/advertising (See Chris Heck) that is trying to do the soccer mom thing.
          But the actual fan base and supporters section there is quite good. And I dont think anyone really wanted Red Bull to own this team (even though they have brought in great players)

          Reply

    • Posted by PanchoMiguelMoralesdeConejo on 2012/05/31 at 9:22 PM

      Kudos for a well crafted response.

      The article is a very good read as usual….and one cannot argue that TSG is one of the best places for true tactical dissection of an American game, so props to Matthew and team.

      And although I beginning not to like Twellman, finding his comments approaching Harkes inane babble…I don’t understand the attack on Twelmans observation that the US did better once they brought in a 2nd Forward. I don’t understand why the thought that a 4-4-2 is so much less ‘attacking’ than a 4-4-3 when one of your ’3′ is at midfield (Torres) and the other is man-marked out of the game (Donovan)…Seems a fair comment from ‘Big Head’.

      I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…I like Klinsmann…we needed a change from Bradley, not because BB was doing that poorly but because you need a change every 4 years regardless….Jury is still out if Klinsmann is the man…but I do LOVE the passion.

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      • Posted by Scott on 2012/06/02 at 12:54 PM

        Actually the 4-4-2 IS less attacking than the 4-4-3…of course you don’t get a keeper when you play the 4-4-3! :)

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    • Posted by JW on 2012/05/31 at 10:56 PM

      I don’t think this is a valid criticism of the article. The point is that the notion that we aren’t a real soccer country, and won’t be until X happens, is false no matter what X is.

      We play more soccer at the youth level than almost anyone else. Most towns have rec leagues, indoor and/or outdoor, for adults as well. We have a professional league for soccer that isn’t going anywhere but up right now. Our men’s national team is good, perhaps not great, but we’re working on it. Our women’s team has never finished worse than third at a world cup and won two of them. Clearly, participation and skill is not something we lack to be considered a proper soccer country.

      Yes, we do borrow things from other, older soccer cultures. Trying to start from scratch would be, well, both dumb and impossible. We do borrow idioms from the British, Mexicans, Brazilians, Colombians, Italians, etc. because that’s who we based our soccer culture from – because those are where we, as an immigrant nation, come from. We’re not ashamed of that; you’ve borrowed things from us, as well.

      I apologize for that, and you’re welcome, too.

      As far as atmosphere goes: some parts of the country are admittedly ahead of others. If you’ll forgive us for NASCAR, we will forgive you for cricket. (I’m a DC boy, but I love this evidence: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s50SvZm9jQE ). I would like to point out, though, that although soccer is not number one here, and may never be, that other countries have sports that are not number 1 and that they are still considered to be good and proper at. You wouldn’t consider Australia to be a second tier rugby nation because they play Aussie Rules more, would you?

      We know how to appreciate soccer – we experience it nearly every day already – and we reject the notion that you have to have a certain percentage of your population constantly tuning into soccer in order to be welcomed into the world culture.

      As for your last point, that we were only seconds from being knocked out and were lucky to finish tops: you’re right, and that’s what makes us American.

      Have you seen Rocky? It’s a movie written by and starring Sylvester Stalone, you might like it. It’s very popular here, and very American.

      You see, in Rocky, Rocky Balboa arranges the biggest fight possible, after working hard to climb through the boxing ranks, and takes on Apollo Creed, the world champion. Rocky loses the fight. Hell, he thought he would. If the movie had been made in another country, Rocky would probably have won. That would have made him resonate more with the audiences there, but not here in America. For us, the end result is less important than the effort, and that alone is a big deal in how we perceive sports and why we don’t care that we’re as good as you.

      An American named Yogi Berra invented a wonderful phrase: “It ain’t over ’till it’s over.” Maybe you can borrow that one from us. It is our attitude, and our sporting style. It’s gotten us into a lot of trouble, particularly where wars are concerned, but has done us a lot of good too. It means that you try and try, and even when your desired outcome is improbable, you emphasize that it is still possible, and continue on as if it were inevitable.

      That’s why everyone I know, even the ones that don’t like soccer, remember that last-gasp mens’ goal against Algeria.

      That’s why everyone I know, even the ones that don’t like soccer, remember our womens’ comeback against the Brazilians; also, we extol the Japanese women for their 12-round effort in the final where we lost. Our women’s team did us proud, even if the game was lost, because of their effort.

      Some countries prefer ‘jogo bonito’ or ‘catenaccio’ as principles for their soccer style, usually some way of going about executing the sport. We Americans tend to value individual expression and identity, which makes the individual style of the team matter less as a whole. That’s why Mr. Klinsmann’s remarks hit home on this particular issue more than his “attacking style” comments do. He’s been here long enough to think a like an American, it seems.

      I mean, we like “attacking” soccer, but are still more proud of the “defend and counter” Confederations Cup 2nd place finish than anything Kinsmann has orchestrated so far. A runner-up performance where we took on the best in the world, came up just short, but proved that we belong…

      Rocky is the quintessential American story. It does not matter if we win – we’re more comfortable as the underdogs, anyways, and to be an underdog means that you’re likely going to lose. But we’ve worked hard to get where we are. We have nothing to prove to anyone but ourselves. We want to take on the best; yeah, we’re pretty sure we’re going to get bloodied, but that’s not the point. The point is that we belong, and if we don’t win, there’s always the sequel… and perhaps a few too many more sequels after that.

      America has a soccer culture, we produce good men’s and great women’s teams, we have a style of play that mirrors our national ethos, and we’re tired of hearing that we don’t belong or don’t understand and appreciate the game…

      …especially by Brazilians who spit “THAT’S football! THAT’S football!” at you when one of their players executes a heel-flick, or holds a facsimile of a world-cup trophy throughout a match when he really should find the nearest Spaniard and let him hold it. The trophy was last in Spanish hands, after all, and it’s been a decade since Brazil has won it. /rant

      I would like to end by thanking the UMD Terps and their Crew for getting me into our American expression of soccer culture. It’s been a hell of a ride so far, and I can’t wait to see where it goes.

      Reply

    • Posted by jesran on 2012/06/01 at 5:21 AM

      USMNT should play England every July 4th. Enough words.

      Reply

    • Posted by Patrick on 2012/06/01 at 10:12 AM

      I have to say I agree with you on the 5 players playing on any team, just not true. Although we have to agree, England would have loved to have a Tim Howard in 2010. Regarding the draw against England in the 2010 WC, the British media on the Guardian and BBC football daily podcast talked about the US team like we were trash, which made the draw that much sweeter. I understand that English hopes were high going into that WC, but the arrogance was unreal. That combined with the fact that this generation of English players are some of the must unlikable characters in the game. It just feels good to stick it to Rooney, Terry and Lampard no matter what shirt they are wearing.

      Reply

    • Posted by Jim on 2012/06/01 at 10:19 AM

      George, I love England. The only ties I have to any country other than my own are to the British Isles. I think, like Mathew, he ranted on the English only because of the comment made by an Englishman. I think the worst Eurosnobery comes from other countries, but a spare comment will set red, white, and blue blooded fans off whether it comes from an Englishman, a Frenchman, etc. We’re all guilty of being nationalistic when it comes to our respective nations. God save the Queen, but if she says a darned thing about our national team or fans I’ll respond with a “Don’t tread on me!”

      Reply

    • To be fair, they are Germans with American fathers who work for the military. They could have been stationed in any country, but just happened to be stationed in Germany. So they are truly both German and American as your children (if you have children) are both English and American. I’m assuming you would want to think of them this way and not necessarily 100% American and 0% English. Not trying to be disrespectful with that either… I read this site all the time, including the comments, but rarely comment. So I’ve read a ton of great insight from you, but just wanted to bring up that point… these Germans consider themselves to be part American.

      Reply

    • George I more than understand where you’re coming from when you say this sounds insecure. However as hard it is to believe, ignorant fans are a part of everywhere and usually they form a very loud voice. Ignorance spreads like a wildfire and everyone is susceptible to it. Unfortunately whether this is the majority or not it is a very loud voice. I myself have many friends and family that constantly deprecate the state of soccer in the US because they have better soccer in Spain, England, Germany, and even Mexico. I would love to be able to say that ignorance is non-existent, but the reality is it is the world’s most contagious, most powerfully detrimental disease.

      On the flip-side, its probably not going to help the perception of the US fan to rant anti-European sentiments. Because the fact remains that the most powerful continent in establishing the perception of soccer around the world is Europe. The only real solution is to ignore it. If you truly believe that US Soccer will take the world by storm, let the performance on the field do the talking.

      Reply

  19. Posted by Kevin O' on 2012/05/31 at 8:27 PM

    Well written article. TSG is quickly back to match fitness! I personally can’t wait to hear Gus Johnson call National Team games. And sounds like Klinsi is attending the school of Popovitch and following the NBA playoffs closely. Good for him – it’s a big boy game!

    Reply

    • Posted by narkid on 2012/05/31 at 9:23 PM

      spurs 82 durrantula and okc 102. maybe we should wait a couple more days on this one.

      Reply

      • Not necessary, the point is still valid. San Antonio was down and getting beaten and he rallied the team to get the win… that’s all the comment is implying. Whether the Spurs win or lose the series is immaterial.

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  20. As I’m reading this, I’m going “yep. Yeah. Uh-huh. Completely true. Can’t argue in the slightest. Preach it, brother.”

    We’re the freaking United States of America. We are the melting pot. We took everything we liked about your various European cultures when you came to our shores and threw everything else overboard into the Atlantic. Whenever this country commits 100% to something, it succeeds. Our athletes are the best in the world, and the rest of the world better get on notice real fast – to quote one Terry Crews, the pain train’s coming.

    And while I’ll still be alright with positive loses to the elite international sides on occasion, there ain’t a single country we can’t play with. And while those elite sides – the Brazils and Germanys of the world (sorry, England, but you don’t get that status and haven’t since Hungary pooped on you in 1953, with the exception of 1966) – may win 90 percent of their games, they’re not improving at anywhere near the clip that we are. We’re catching up, and when we get there, we are most definitely not going away.

    And Vineyarddawg, wait on that one. Because England’s not winning the Cup anytime soon. And it’s gonna be much sweeter when we win and can turn around and say “what’s that? You haven’t won since 1966? Ask Bobby Moore if he likes apples.”

    Reply

    • GeorgeCross, this isn’t aimed at you – most of this stems out of one of my coworkers who grew up in Germany needling me about the game today, and England wound up in the crossfire.

      Also, you posted up as I was writing that and mentioned the things which I was a little harsher on than I needed to be. Sorry about that.

      Reply

      • It’s all good.

        But I honestly don’t understand the insecurity. I get you want your “football independence” (i saw the media commotion about the British commentators during the last WC), but surely it is content and ability that matters, rather than nationality, right?

        Most teams have plateaued, and the US team is improving, cycle after cycle. So, naturally, with the resources and population you have, it is only a matter of time before you catch up with the elite teams – you have already caught up and over taken many of the smaller European nations, the last couple of years and Saturday night was evidence of that. But what’s with the attitude?

        Reply

        • Posted by narkid on 2012/05/31 at 9:17 PM

          george cross, when you got one michael bradley on your team, the sky is the limit, and when i say the sky, i dont just mean the blue sky, im talking deep out in the blackness of space sky. like sky high on a saturn rocket, or the viking probe, both one and two, and four, or six or fourteen.

          and bob bradley, yes, he did great things for us soccer and now, now he is doing great things for humanity. god speed coach. we all know about the devalue of the e ching, well, we should anyway.

          Reply

        • Posted by Alex on 2012/05/31 at 9:41 PM

          The attitude is exactly the point–there absolutely is a level of insecurity, both because Europe tends to look down its nose at “soccer”, and because there is a large (but thankfully shrinking) element in the US which despises soccer and sees it as un-American. This isn’t news to any of you. Coupled with the relative newness of soccer in this country these factors make it difficult to establish an identity other than one created “in opposition to…”. We want our “football independence”, but don’t really have a space in which to establish it, and can feel attacked from all sides for being fans of American soccer. When a British commentator is hired, we’re torn, because American soccer commentary is generally pretty shitty, but hiring a foreigner is admitting as much, as well as potentially stifling the growth of not just American commentary, but a particularly American soccer tradition, which is, in the end, what we all want. As a soccer fan in the US, I don’t simply want to win games, but I want to establish a tradition that’s respected internationally. So far, the main American soccer traditions are grit and effort; Klinsmann’s trying to instill self-confidence and belief in the players, and I think that same attitude is arising in fans, which in this case has taken the shape of a big middle finger to Europe. I’m totally down.

          Reply

          • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2012/06/01 at 8:04 AM

            Tangential to establishing a tradition: do you think the US should stick to a *home* jersey colour? Do you think chopping and changing the jersey all the time is detrimental to installing the identity you crave? One year it is white, then it might be blue, then white with red hoops…

            Reply

            • It can’t hurt. I blame Nike a bit for this, and I’m honestly a bit confused why we already went away from what was a pretty nice setup with the sash.

            • Posted by Jared on 2012/06/01 at 9:12 AM

              Absolutely. I’d like the home shirt to be the 1950 World Cup style, white shirt with red sash with blue on the cuffs and neck. Unfortunately it appears that Gulati is allowing the USMNT to become the Oregon of national soccer teams for Nike.

            • Posted by Patrick on 2012/06/01 at 9:58 AM

              They are always the same colors, just different schemes. More than England can say these days. What was up with those black jerseys against Norway?

              absolutely terrible

              I will say that we are being a little too harsh on the English. Listen to the BBC 5live call in show after an England game and you will hear a passionate, insecure fanbase that knows deep down that they arent anything special. That doesnt keep them from wanting it really badly though and I can sympathize with that.

              As far as media in general, the English press is the worst. I read Spanish and German sports sections on a regular basis and it is not the same at all. British press loves the sort of trash, controversial journalism that has lead to a decline in the industry.

            • Posted by Jim on 2012/06/01 at 10:28 AM

              Those hoops are called “stripes” my friend. They make complete sense on a shirt worn by U.S. players.

            • Posted by Jared on 2012/06/01 at 12:21 PM

              England home jerseys are always white. The other ones are just 3rd jerseys to make money. Not sure a US fan can comment about black jerseys when the US wore some type of gray for a while.

            • ERM, you mean navy blue? That is our “away kit”, which has mostly been red over the years.

              England’s “home kit” has always been white, with red and / or blue trim.

              Also, what is up with the US badge resembling Cuba’s flag?! Not cool!

            • Posted by Jared on 2012/06/02 at 7:34 AM

              Looking like Cuba’s flag is the least thing wrong with the US badge. The one thing that England has done right is create a quality badge. The US badge needs to include the bald eagle in some way.

              I think it’s a North American thing though to have terrible badges. Mexico’s is pretty bad too with the old school black and white soccer ball in the middle or compare Canada’s soccer crest to Canada’s hockey crest.

        • Posted by Tyler on 2012/06/01 at 7:19 AM

          George/anonymous offended eurofan…the attitude expressed is typically American… apologies, we really are a bunch of arrogant/insecure/cocksure/annoying tourist AMERICANS. Even the people who like soccer, or especially the people who like soccer (i.e. highly correlated with tourism in Europe).

          Initially, Klinsmann with his German name, German accent, German player recruitment, German etc. seemed less than American. However, the product on the field lately has been very American…more daring, riskier, winning (Slovenia, Venezuela, Panama, ITALY!, Scotland). I am proud to have this team represent USA soccer. I feel for this squad way more than previous teams. Even a 4-1 result against Brazil like the one we just had feels so much different than the 3-2 result we had in the Confed Cup. The perception is reality to me.

          Reply

        • If you look at my profile photo the attitude bit might be explainable, at least to a certain degree. See, my first true love is baseball, and I’ve been a Sox fan ever since I could read the sports pages. Now, I’m only 23, so I wasn’t alive for ’67, ’75, ’78, and ’86, but I grew up in Albany, NY, which is about as close to enemy territory as you can get without living in or around NYC. So I spent the first 16 years of my life being sneered at by Yankee fans, having “1918″ chanted at me, the works. You say you lived in both Massachusetts and New York, so you probably know what I’m on about here. Anyway, 2004 was a mountaintop experience that I think I can safely say was unlike anything the American sports world has seen. And while I’d like to say I was classy in victory, and Yankee fans were gracious in defeat, there was still a bit of “we stuck it to them, who are the daddies now” streak that came out.

          Now, USA-England doesn’t have the sporting history that Red Sox-Yankees do, and in the interest of full disclosure, if I were to live anywhere other than America, England would probably be number two on my list, but as the majority of European football culture that I’ve been exposed to has been English, that’s where I lashed out at. And the whole geopolitical history of it doesn’t help this in the slightest.

          I mean, I have far more animosity towards multiple CONCACAF sides and quite a few European sides as well. I got riled up, swung rather blindly, and in my exuberance hit my neighbor rather than the sneering guy I was aiming at.

          Reply

          • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2012/06/01 at 10:20 AM

            The funny thing is, I lived in Boston when they won their ‘World’ Series in 2004. Before this win, I always thought the comparison between Red Sox fans and England fans was very apt. Big team in an important marketplace, where the sport consumes amost everybody. And when the team loses, always somebody elses fault, and can never admit that ‘our’ team simply wasn’t good enough or the other team was better. I call this disease, “massiveitus” – when one thinks they bigger and better than they actuallly are.

            Reply

    • Posted by Tyler on 2012/06/01 at 5:43 AM

      http://youtu.be/s3QP1kYWuMI – “The Pain Train’s Coming” – Terry Tate (Jermaine Jones) Office Linbacker (Neymar Destroyer)

      Reply

  21. Posted by EE on 2012/05/31 at 9:28 PM

    Great article.
    What people don’t realize about the American soccer fan is that our optimism springs eternal. I don’t care that we lost to a Brazillion team led by a 20 year old twig with a peubescent hairstyle. What EVERYONE knows is that our potential is buoyant to an unparalleled degree. What other nation in the world is doubling their talent pool at a rate of once every 8 years? None! Perhaps we didn’t beat Brazil today. But it’s only a matter of time.

    Reply

  22. Posted by 4now on 2012/05/31 at 10:44 PM

    Inspired!

    Reply

  23. Posted by Tony Danza Army on 2012/06/01 at 4:20 AM

    This.

    Thank you.

    Reply

  24. Great article Matt, and you’ve summed up my take on watching the USMNT since JK took over pretty accurately. Watching this team is exciting. I can get behind a team trying to win rather than trying not to lose. I think JK has a huge task in front of him, however. Changing culture is what must happen for the US to be a threat on the global stage. That’s a big hill to climb.

    It does seem like you took aim at the UK vs. the rest of the world. Euro-snobbery, IMO, comes from Americans, not the UK. I don’t mind putting the three lions in our cross hairs, but their opinion of US soccer isn’t that important to me. The rest of the world is who I want this team to conquer.

    Reply

    • Having said that ^ about the Brits, I do understand where you’re coming from. I played with a team of Brits last year and their ineptitude when it came to knowing anything about US soccer vs. reverting to stereotypes was appalling. Was fine with me, I knew who/what we were, it just seemed out of context and dated when they would bash US soccer and the MLS. Kind of like the old man in a rocking chair on the porch ranting about “that new-fangled internet…just another fad that those kids need instead of reading a book!!!”

      Reply

    • Posted by LandoCalrissovan on 2012/06/01 at 12:33 PM

      You’re right about Eurosnobbery coming not from Euros, but Americans. I actually find that many of the more informed and cognitively-enabled non-American soccer fans can be quite respectful of the U.S., mindful of our rise and such.

      Even though those European Eurosnobs that do exist can be a pain, but one that’s not hard for me to shrug off when I point out our successes (and, often, their failures).

      What really kills me are when Americans choose not to pay their respects to the USMNT and roots for others, either out of a weird, misplaced sense of ethnic loyalty (and I’m not talking about the Daniele de Rossis, more PBR-swilling hipsters with 2 drops of Norwegian blood or something) or a reflective allergy to any expressions of American patriotism (but somehow OK with channeling other countries’ nationalisms…?).

      One of the greatest things I’ve found about cheering for American soccer isn’t just the soccer (though that’s clearly the main thing), but that it’s a rare event where I can feel open to be patriotic. These days, American patriotism is often deemed as something dangerous or outlandish — something to be ashamed of. But I’m tired of it! I love this country. There’s nothing insidious or xenophobic about that — my mom is an immigrant, as is my wife, but I’m and American and I am who I am because of it. What’s wrong with acknowledging that and being proud of it?

      Reply

  25. Posted by jb on 2012/06/01 at 8:11 AM

    Love the article and the commentary! And certainly appreciate the different perspectives on the subject. For my part, I believe the rise of the different soccer networks and their availability is the game-changer for American soccer. Now fans anywhere in the country can view the sport at its highest level.

    I too love Klinnsman’s attitude and comments. I’m really curious to see how he handles the officiating when it comes to WC qualifying, particularly the away games. Personally I think its past time US Soccer stood up and demanded accountability for some of the horrible officiating in CONCACAF.

    Reply

  26. Posted by Darius on 2012/06/01 at 8:34 AM

    I really enjoyed this article and told my wife this is the one article she has to read before we go to the US Canada game on Sunday.

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  27. I use “British-isms” when I talk about the game. Fact is, that’s the “vocabulary” of the game. When I coached u-6 and u-8, I taught them and their parents the language. Just as we would bridle if someone came to an LSU game at Tiger Stadium and used non-football language, so we need to know the language of the game.

    I’m reacting to comments, probably not the best route to good discussion, and like was mentioned, I clearly remember Mick Luckhurst calling games in 1990 on TBS and cutting to commercials. If we have to have English media to get good coverage, so be it. I, too, remember “Soccer Made in Germany” and it being months out-of-date, to boot.

    Now to read the article ;)

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  28. Posted by SamT on 2012/06/01 at 9:33 AM

    Right on!

    As I was reading, I was at the same time thinking to myself, “…except for that George Cross fellow. He’s the exception. We’ll take him as a fan for the USA any day.”

    Appreciate your commentary as always, George. These past two friendlies have been a bit of a watershed for this team and its playing style. Not sure if you can fully empathize with where we’re coming from as American fans of the sport, but for long time fans of the US Men like myself, this is a big deal, and the diatribe above strikes a chord.

    Reply

    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2012/06/01 at 10:09 AM

      I am a fan, sort of. I will always be English, and I make no bones about that. But America is my adopted country, where I live now, where my wife is from, and where my child was born. Of course I want them to do well, and I want them to win (except vs England) – although I am not emotionally attached like I am with England.

      Reply

      • Posted by SKV on 2012/06/02 at 6:14 AM

        GeorgeCross:
        I am originally from India and I can completely understand your predicament when supporting sides. If US were playing India, I would still support India, however, that would NEVER happen as India is about at FIFA ranking of 150 :-)

        We only got Cricket to root for…

        I am a die-hard US MNT fan, I still get grief for watching every single game.

        Reply

  29. Aside from all of the pissing back and forth about English media this article reflects what most U.S. fans think. We love the sport, we love our team and we want to compete against the best in the world and defeat them. Your passion about the sport is shared by many and your knowledge is far and above most. Damn right I am angry we got whacked by Brazil! Every fan should be as it shows you care not that you dislike the team so let’s make that distinction. If all of our wins are flukes to the rest of the world then good luck to their team. We DO so want to play you and let you know the U.S. has arrived. Now let’s go pick on Spain, Germany and the Netherlands and leave the prickly Brits alone to wallow in misfortune.

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  30. Posted by Josh on 2012/06/01 at 12:35 PM

    I am not a regular poster here save USMNT action – then I spring in to action on boards like this.

    What the author says and what JK represents is everything I’ve believed in: mainly we’re way too friendly on the pitch in past years and maybe now still.

    Give me a JJones over most lads any day. I want people who are skilled and mean.

    Blogs like this, AO, etc. remain way too professional and friendly. What we need is a sharpened American knife edge at all times.

    JK knows this; the American soccer public still doesn’t. This is just me speaking. I happen to like smart and very physical football. Within the rules of the game when the refs are watching. When they’re not it’s you vs. your foe – make it count.

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    • Posted by Jason on 2012/06/01 at 1:57 PM

      ehhh I don’t know about that. I liked Klinsmann’s “nasty” comment as well but what you are describing is awfully… “Marcelo-ish” (or maybe Joey Barton-ish is better?) isn’t it?

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      • Posted by Josh on 2012/06/02 at 3:42 PM

        I’d never advocate for Marcelo-like behavior. I only advocate for aggressive, physical and above all fearless football.

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    • George Cross (forgive me George if I’m wrong about this) is a Crystal Palace fan.

      Guess who is the first Palace player to ever play in a World Cup?

      That’s right Gregg Berhalter, my favorite Bundesliga 2 center back who took the shot that became our phantom TFC Frings handball never called PK in our 1-0 2002 WC loss to Die Mannschaft.

      By the way, if you think JK would have apologized for that had he been managing Germany, hell no he wouldn’t.

      This just goes to show you how interconnected England, Germany and the US are in this respect.

      And George, I read as many English sites as I can for the same reasons I use “Britishisms”. They are in English and I like to see different ways of looking and saying things. I could maybe make some sense of German, French, Spanish and Italian sites but geez, it’s not really worth the headache.

      Are the English condescending? Yeah, but so what? So are Americans.

      A few years ago there was a famous Mexican writer whose name I forget who said something like
      “The thing about the Mexican and American relationship is that you only think about us when you hear illegal immigrants, drug cartels, Mexican food or sombreros. Otherwise you don’t even know we exist and could not care less. But, American culture is so overwhelmingly pervasive in Mexican society it is impossible to avoid it on a daily basis. For even the most pro-American Mexican, it gets old fast. And Mexico is not the only country with this problem. When bookstores in Vancouver BC have sections to Canadiana, or local Canadian authors, as if they were minorities in their own country, you can be sure they have some of the same feelings we do.”

      I am lucky enough to have traveled a bit and I would say it would help if everyone just dialed down the rhetoric.

      Speaking of which, I saw a fair amount of Klinsmann during his playing days. His German teams were full of really good players but they often faced much more talented teams and beat them. They expected to win and, more important a lot of their opponents expected them to win also.

      His teams were” nasty”, a pain in the ass to play against, very physical, did not cross the line when it came to rule breaking but walked right up to it, were not above doing anything (including intimidating the ref) and everything to win and won most of their games. Jermaine Jones’ antics would not have been noticed with this bunch; in fact I would say he is a wuss in comparison. And as I noted above, no apologies for non -calls by the ref that benefitted his teams but certainly tons of protest against calls that went against them

      Above all else, as a player, JK was all about winning and was a very sore loser. This is the man who practically re- invented diving and popularized it during his Spurs days.
      What you saw the other night is just the real JK coming out. If he could somehow transfer that to his players, we would not have much to worry about.

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  31. Posted by Josh on 2012/06/01 at 12:46 PM

    Matthewsf:

    Then your blog at all times should reflect a haughtier, nastier tone.

    If we want to be the best, I want more anger from partisan US soccer media.

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  32. Posted by JGD on 2012/06/01 at 3:11 PM

    Concerning “Britishisms”: Soccer = as-*soc*-iation football. The Brits seem to forget that it was they who came up with the term to distinguish it from other forms of football. Don’t think this is news to many of the readers here, but I digress.

    Concerning snobbery: Yeah, I get the Euro-snobbery every now and then. Comes with the territory. Most English fans I’ve met are too self-depracating to really commit to slamming the U.S. team.

    The most frustrating snobbishness I’ve encountered has come from fellow Americans. Typically the egghead NFL or NBA fan who thinks the Super Bowl is the biggest sporting event on earth. Let’s take Clint Dempsey for example. He’s been getting articles in major papers over there and is constantly being talked about on radio and television. I think your average English soccer fan has a greater respect for Dempsey’s talent than your average American. Jeremy Lin, that great flash-in-the-pan for the NBA’s most overrated franchise, made the cover of SI twice this season. Dempsey, despite having arguably the greatest season for an American soccer player ever, wasn’t given even one (he did share a cover with Donovan and Howard leading-up to the last WC). Maybe that’s a petty thing to bring-up. But it’s still indicative of a larger trend. What’s an American soccer player gotta do to get respect in this country?

    Reply

    • Posted by JGD on 2012/06/01 at 3:14 PM

      And yes, that bit about the SI cover came from the same source as the quote from the unnamed English commentator mentioned in the op-ed above.

      - GFOPs unite

      Reply

  33. Posted by JozyAltidore on 2012/06/01 at 3:36 PM

    Incredible piece! I too have been a long time supporter of American soccer and love watching American players where ever they.

    Reply

  34. Posted by Corben Boshart on 2012/06/01 at 4:31 PM

    Great post! This is a voice that needs to be heard, and I hope our commenators, journalists and bloggers reinforce this attitude more.

    I couldn’t believe that after the Brazil game nobody was pointing out how passive our first half was compared to what are mentality should have been. It may have been the early goal, but for the first 35-40 minutes our tactics were somewhere between what Klinnsman is trying to instill and the defensive/counterattacking posture we have always had. Our defensive line was way too far back and our midfielders looked somewhere between shell shocked and frightened.

    It was a major mental problem. It showed that we have an inferiority complex. Joshua, you hit the nail right on the head, the US has incredible talent right now in Bradley, Dempsey, Johnson, Donovan and Howard (and Holden might also be added in the future. Also imagine this team potentially with Subotic and Rossi.). A team with these players should not play as though they are inferior to anyone.

    We have a massive CB issue and a slight inferiority complex that proved to be our undoing against an awful match-up for those weaknesses. I still like our chances against England, Italy, France, Portugal, etc. Who the fuck do they have that we can’t match or should ever be afraid of?

    Reply

  35. Posted by Paula on 2012/06/01 at 6:00 PM

    “Goin’ from mic to mic kickin’ it wall to wall
    I’ll be calling out you people like a casting call …”

    Reply

  36. Posted by Gio on 2012/06/01 at 6:41 PM

    Yes, USMNT getting better, but going from cellar to average isn’t too hard. Going from average to very good is going to be tough. And very good to top world power painfully hard. If anyone thinks USMNT is going to go from average to world beater by 2014, think again! These feel-good pieces is chest pumping. USMNT may have ups and downs, but in long run, they are average . . . but getting better slowly. How long before they are a top 10 world power? Maybe a 10-15 years, or 2018 at earliest depending on how much of Klinsmann rubs off on youth soccer. We will also know when USMNT pulls players from the likes of Chelsea, Madrid, Milan, Arsenal and not Galaxy, Fulham, AZ Alkmar, or Chievo.

    Reply

  37. Posted by Gio on 2012/06/01 at 6:46 PM

    And talking nasty and getting tougher and not being intimidated by teams like Brazil will help — but not going to make them into elite team. USMNT still lacks the panache, creativity, attacking prowess. Right now they would only be cocky with half empty gun. Don’t rush the on pitch maturity with blinded nationalism.

    Brazil’s junior varsity team with one or two varsity players beat USMNT’s world cup squad (according to Klinsmann it was his 2014 team if WC were now). So guess what America, USMNT not looking good for 2014 if they can’t beat Brazil’s JV team.

    Reply

    • Posted by Adkins on 2012/06/02 at 8:21 AM

      No offense, if you think that Brazil’s team fielded “one or two varsity players,” then you have not been paying much attention to Brazil. At least 6 of those players will be starters on the WC team with a couple more being impact subs.

      Reply

  38. Posted by Gregorio on 2012/06/01 at 8:18 PM

    Wow so much passion, great stuff & nice article although I think that after a day of sleep/reflection it might not be so agressive. And this goes for Klinsy’s comments too. But they are all said with with Pure Heart and thats what strikes a chord in all of us. I believe in fair play;sportsmanship, etc..but was beaming with pride when JJ took out Neymar.
    Anyway this was a great learning experience for the US team & fans. The big point is to tap into the anger so the next time we won’t be intimidated/in awe, fearful/cautious or believing all the hype of big teams & players and give them too much time and space to take a lead that we can’t overcome. And that gentlemen is where the anger emanates from, ” Shit we could’ve beaten these guys, they aren’t so great, we took it to ‘em” Next time it will be different!
    I too remember the early days in the 70s when all I could see was higlights of Coln or Stuttgart, Bayern on TV and Ricky Davis was our icon. Thank God I grew up in the city streets of Manhattan where I learned to love the game playing with immigrants all over the world and all because there wasn’t anyone playing basketball at the park so I started kicking the ball with Albanian doormen who played for the NY Eagles or with former argentinian professionals now working as laborers.
    Aanyway thanks for the fond memories and notice I didn’t Argentine, thats an Englishism that just hurts the ears.

    Reply

  39. Posted by FellainisFro on 2012/06/01 at 8:19 PM

    Dos Centavos.

    The way I saw the article some of the main points were the following.

    Don’t put your head down on the loss to Brazil. The scoreline did not fully tell the story of the game. Yes the bottom line of any sporting contest is the final score. But there is plenty of stories that unfold during a sporting contest and the fact the US put a great shift of about 30 minutes of well played attacking soccer against the vaunted Brazilian team in the second half was special to watch and was a great chapter in that game.
    The US and it’s fans do not have anything to hold their head down about that game.

    The future is bright. Did anyone see the U-17 game between Brazil and the US in the winter? The U-17 team made the Brazilians look foolish and so much so, they took to obscene fouling when they realized the US were dominating them. Our boys absolutely outplayed theirs from beginning to end. I think their coach and players were absolutely in shock after the game.

    Another point in the article I see being made was twofold. For us to stop crapping on ourselves about the state of soccer in the US, including our national team, and for us to stand up and stop taking crap from other nations. I don’t see this as jingoistic but rather putting to rest the outdated description and outlook of soccer in the US. The best example of this was in the 2010 World Cup game between the US and England. In the pre-match show Steve McManaman was just going on and on about England and the certainty that they were going to down the US team with both feet tied together. Fast forward to the end of the match and Stevie was going on and on with excuses until finally Alexi Lalas just looked at him and said essentially, ” Maybe they just are not that good.” Best minute of television I have ever seen.

    Lastly, I too have seen youth soccer at it’s finest here in Southern California. I have seen 8 year old goal keepers look like they have been playing the game for 10 years with their positioning, awareness and athleticism. I have seen forwards with moves that make Neymar look like a lumbering fat rec league player. We are young, but we are growing up fast. Another generation or two is the time I feel we will come of age and be a top 10 soccer nation.

    By the way I am a huge fan of GeorgeCross and his analysis as well as every other contributor here. I spend way too much time on other boards, blogs and forums following my favorite sport teams and let me tell you the comments, analysis, camaraderie and intelligence is miles above anything else out there. At times we agree, disagree, have a different view point or plainly just don’t care, but the tone and tenor is always of respect. I hope this never changes.

    Reply

  40. Posted by Copy, Paste, Google, Bingo on 2012/06/01 at 9:30 PM

    Michael Davies‏@embassydavies

    “Many will disagree, but until US fans and media find 4-1 home losses to elite teams unacceptable, US will not become elite team”

    Reply

    • Well, since you’ve outed him I’ll give him a plug. He and Roger Bennett do a great podcast/Sirius show called Men In Blazers. Funny, insightful, and generally evenhanded. If you’re a fan of the EPL and the international game, I highly recommend it.

      Reply

    • Posted by Jared on 2012/06/02 at 7:26 AM

      That’s the last thing we should want by the way. That’s exactly what is wrong with England. Every loss is the end of the world no matter who the opponent is which results in the coach and players being under enormous pressure to perform at all times. Then of course the players and coach never live up to the expectations so they all clearly end up hating national team duty with the exception of John Terry because he obviously is not affected by what people think or say about him.

      Reply

  41. Posted by Nick on 2012/06/02 at 6:33 AM

    Brilliant my man. Simply brilliant.

    Reply

  42. Posted by Hennissey on 2012/06/02 at 8:08 AM

    As a Shin Guardian reader from overseas (Munich, to be precise) I can only applaud you. Since I stumbled upon this site I find myself coming back here several times a week. The understanding and appreciation of football* here is thorough and also quite different from the European one, where too many phrases and preconceived mindsets have become ingrained in the minds of the commentators. You Americans have a oftentimes refreshingly different perspective on the sport that is giving me fantastic new insights.

    One thing about Klinsmann press conference – when he said the USMNT need to hurt opponent players I think he was going for the phrase “Wir müssen dem Gegner weh tun” – a common one among German coaches. This phrase, even though the literal translation is “we need to make the opponent feel pain” or yes, actually “we need to hurt the opponent” is so common that it is never meant as drastically as it sounds. Sheer repetition has taken the edge off it. The German meaning for that phrase is now more like “We need to make it really, really tough for the opponent”. Think of how your politicians often like to declare “this is a war on… (something)”, when of course there is no sign of an actual military operation.

    Btw I love how well Fabian Johnson is doing for you now. I support 1860 and he was always one of my favorite players when he was still playing for our team. His commitment, his industry, his versatilty and his quick mind meant he was always standing out, whichever position the coach was assigning him to play (which was pretty much every position apart from goalkeeper and lone striker). When he was stalling at Wolfsburg people over here were like “How could he have been part of the Germany U21-team with Özil, Neuer, Khedira, Hummels, Boateng etc that won the European U21 cup in 2009″. Well he is showing now how did belong there and Germany will regret having let him go soon enough.

    - – -
    *I WILL call it football, calling it Soccer is something I can not stand for. I will not give the word “Football” to a sport that is played with every part of the body but the feet -with something that is not a ball. Sorry. That’s where I’ll remain a bullheaded European.

    Reply

    • Posted by Adkins on 2012/06/02 at 8:23 AM

      Haha, thanks for the German insight! It is much appreciated and yes soccer = football it just makes sense.

      Reply

  43. Posted by twewlife on 2012/06/02 at 12:31 PM

    Hey guys,

    I know this is a bit off topic, but several of you have mentioned other high quality USMNT focused blogs.

    Can you post some links? I love TSG, but I would love to learn about some additional sources of stellar commentary.

    Thanks

    Reply

  44. I believe JK’s pregame strategy and in game tactical adjustments are his biggest weakness; a blindspot that was at least partly negated by Joachim Loew along with higher qualilty and seasoned players when JK was coach of Germany.

    Brazil came out in a 4-2-4 formation with all forwards high pressing the US backline, this aggressive pressing defensive tactic deployed by the brazilians was extremely effective and exposed the US teams lack of skill on the ball, and thought process when challenged. Understand that Barcalona does the samething to opponents in la liga/champions league, and the best counter strategy is to employ in game defensive tactics the likes of Jose Mourinho’s inter milan 2010 team and Chelsea’s strategy this yr in CL. No team can apply this much defensive pressure for a whole 45 minutes, not even young energetic brazilians, it’s to exhausting; but there strategy from the start of both halfs was to use this tactic to throw the US team off its game and score goals, which is exactly what they did. Once the brazilian pressure subsided we witnessed a US side that was able to apply there new found offensive abilities: teamwork, tactics and goalscoring chances effectively, which is JK’s biggest accomplishment with the US team so far along with his infectious energy and enthusiasm . The brazil game can be viewed as a great learning tool for future world class opponents who will enter the game with superior players; skilled, and tactically aware of US teams weaknesses, and how to develop a counter strategy for US team to imploy when facing such opponents.

    Reply

  45. Posted by Josh on 2012/06/02 at 3:39 PM

    The difference between the traditional American footballer and many of the very best:

    The best in the rest of the world scratched through and dreamed of being the very best.

    The Clint Dempsey’s of American football are the exception.

    We need more kids who want to fight to be the best. And I dare say it will come from America’s working-class neighborhoods.

    It is only when the pure grit and determination of succeeding a dream gets its world-class attention $$ …

    Reply

  46. [...] As American soccer’s evolved, so has its fanbase and culture. – theshinguardian.com [...]

    Reply

  47. Posted by Jake C on 2012/06/03 at 9:44 AM

    Enjoyed reading this, but the rant against England struck me as discordant with the rest of the piece. I understand the reaction against those who continually patronize the USA (among which are plenty of American commentators), but shouldn’t our growing awareness of the game enable us to make more qualified statements against those detractors rather than launch into an instinctual defense of our boys? I understand your intentions with this piece, and it was mostly hilarious to read, but I’ve spent a good deal of time thinking about some implications of this issue (alone while burning incense), and sometimes it’s important to consider our trajectory as American soccer fans, not just our current state as supporters of a competent team.

    Reply

  48. Posted by Jez1987 on 2012/06/03 at 8:55 PM

    Congratulations USMNT on your 0-0 tie with a nation ranked 75 in the world and a 1/8th of the population.

    Reply

  49. [...] like these.  It certainly doesn’t seem like an unreasonable suggestion.  There was an op-ed by Joshua Wells on TSG not long ago describing the arrogance of the archetypical English football snob… but you [...]

    Reply

  50. [...] the Brazil loss we were told—as previous TSG writer Joshua Wells noted—that unless we found such results “unacceptable” the team would never become an elite one. [...]

    Reply

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