Thoughts after USA v. Denmark

March 28, 2015

 

It always sounds crazy no matter how many times and how many ways you say it, but when it all comes down to it, soccer is so young in the USA, especially it's fan base that extends outside of the tried and true super fans. 

After the USMNT's latest friendly against Denmark I saw a load of negativity - not just post-game - but throughout the whole match. When the USA was up, people remarked on how it was "our style" to play terrible and still find a way to be in the lead. When we gave up the lead, fans remarked on how it was "just like us" to give up a lead. 

I've been watching the sport since I was a kid and have covered soccer for quite some time now and I still don't claim to be an expert necessarily. I've seen the many different sides of soccer and sure I have different insights than many do, but I am still witnessing a child growing up, therefore I am learning as well. 

I try not to get negative about friendlies. Not only am I a soccer fan, but I am a football fan, a baseball fan and an ice hockey fan as well. When it's preseason for any of those sports, the only real negativity you will hear is when someone makes the mistake of being too positive. "The Rams went undefeated in the preseason? Yeah, well call me when it means something." Preseason isn't about winning, it's about figuring out how you're going to win in the regular season....when it means something. I understand at a glance that doesn't sound like a very American thing to say and I am definitely someone who lives be the creed "Winning is Everything", but preseasons are preparation....that's it.

That all said, soccer is a different beast. There is no "preseason" really, at least not in international play, so when there is an international "friendly", it could happen at any time of the year regardless of each player's individual form. It's also a sport where for the majority of each meaningful match, the 11 players on the field will mostly stay the same for the whole 90 minutes. No lines, no back in, back out subs, just three permanent subs per match. However, that only makes it harder for meaningless matches to even look remotely like a proper match. A back line in soccer's most important ingredient is chemistry. How on earth are you supposed to have chemistry after half of your team gets subbed at the half? When it all comes down to it, these matches are just a glorified training camp.

As I said before though, this country is young when it comes to the beautiful game and after cities across America packed bars and convention centers to watch the World Cup in 2014, fans want to see results. When commentators like Taylor Twellman remark on making a habit of giving up leads, the defense being soft or any of these matches being "must wins" it doesn't help a thing. Sure there is a tiny bit of truth to every one of those statements (besides the last one), but regardless of what it does for ratings, experts need to be honest and educate those watching and discuss these matches just as they are.

On the same day that the USMNT blew a lead to an inspired one man show (Nicklas Bendtner), the reigning champs (Germany) had a 2-2 draw IN GERMANY with the "Socceroos" of Australia, a team known for getting beat up on in World Cup play. That is what friendlies are. I didn't hear the experts talk much about that.

The USMNT do have a lot of work to do and yes - although our GAA was damn good in group play at the 2014 World Cup - our defense needs to build up chemistry. Yes, the coaching staff and the players have a lot to figure out, but when it all comes down to it, so do the rest of us.




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