World Cup: Dissapointing Expectations
I had to take a couple of days off. I couldn't write, think or talk about the United States Soccer Squad for a few days. I've thought about it and I am disappointed they met my expectations. I know that is an oxymoron, but hear me out.
Heading into the 2010 World Cup I had told myself that if the USA could play competitively against England and get out of their group I would be happy. They did that and even more. They tied England, they played horribly in the first half against Slovenia and then strung together three straight fantastic halves of soccer. All of those events culminated in the best sports moment of my lifetime, when Landon Donovan scored to secure my preset goals for the US Team.
(If you haven't seen this video, you've either been under a rock or in space. But watch it. It is five minutes long and just a cool video.)
After the US exceeded my idea of success, won their group and got a favorable draw in the round of 16 I threw away my previous expectations and created new ones. I envisioned the red, white and blue beating Brazil in the semi-finals, redeeming their loss in the Confederations Cup last year that helped get the expectations so high for this team. I already was comparing them to the 1980 USA Hockey team in Lake Placid.
(There would have been incredible symmetry between the two teams. Tied the first game of the tournament. Both had trailed in every game. Both scored a last second goal in the final group game to advance, otherwise they would have been out of the tournament. Then facing the number one team in the semi-finals to advance and win the whole tournament. So I got a little ahead of myself. But admit it, it would have been fantastic.)
The Starred Eagles disappointed me against Ghana. They are a better team than what was on the pitch last Saturday. I had expectations and they were crushed from the outset. I thought Bob Bradley made a mistake starting Robbie Findley and Ricardo Clark after they both were out against Algeria. Algeria just happened to be the only time the US played a complete game the entire Cup. Clark ended up making the mistake that killed the Americans. After chasing a draw or win in all three of their group stage games they had to start chasing five minutes into their Round of 16 game.
The American players had no legs. Jozy Altidore looked dead the entire game. Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey disappeared for stretches of the game, and even Tim Howard had a mental lapse on the opening goal, leaving far too much near post open.
After a few days off to really just enjoy some of the tournament without much rooting interest, I have come to a conclusion on the Americans' 2010 World Cup performance. I am disappointed they didn't make a deeper run; but they met my expectations. That is enough for me. They did what I wanted them to do before the tournament started. Now I will look ahead to Brazil in 2014 and my expectations will probably be raised, but that is only because of this year's team. A successful run in South Africa for the Americans.
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