There were no seven stages of grief when the US team got their plane tickets home today. As the day has progressed, I find that once again, I'm basically just disappointed. Our side, when it counted, played miserably. There is some amount of anger at the unfairness of a lot of what happened over the three games we played. There were several wrongly called fouls that resulted in cards, and as far as I know, the US is the only team to suffer two bloody faces due to elbows. There is some anger at the dives and the crying that I saw that seemed sometimes to result in called fouls, and I'm not just talking to Italy here. I'd like to think that our side was a little more honest in this regard, but I'm sure everyone thinks his or her team is the only one who doesn't try the dive.
So, I'll go through a few people that stood out on the US team, and I'll bitch about them as I see their performance deserves.
I'll start with that damn Landon Donovan. I'm over his smug looking ass. I've loved him in spite of the fact that he is the last guy we want as the face of the team. He just looks like everything the world hates about the US, the smugness combined with some sort of uppity airs. But when he decides to play, he really can. I won't deny that he can score goals. Why didn't he in Germany? I don't know. I'm waiting for DC United to pick his ass apart really soon. That's how irritated I am with him.
Brian McBride, please come home and play in the MLS and help this country get soccer wise. This guy personifies so much of what I love in the game. He went out and busted his ass for the most part. I'd like to have seen more of him, but he certainly made a lot of plays.
Clint Dempsey deserved to be on the field more than just about anyone else on the team. I'm not at all surprised that he scored the one goal we earned. If the US is ever going to not suck at the international level, I am quite certain that Clint will be a part of it. He may be the one person with whom I am not disappointed on the entire team.
As far as the referees, it can be said that the US suffered from some really bad calls. I have to wonder if this is that common soccer sickness where we blame the refs in the end. No one can argue that the US was dealt a fair amount of bad calls and improper cards. Many other teams can claim the same thing, but no other team seems to have paid quite so dearly. But, even this doesn't excuse that of our two goals in three games, we only earned one of them. The refs ruined Italy, but Ghana and the Czech Republic just beat us.
So now I need a new team in the World Cup. I'm leaning toward Brazil, and not because they are the favorites. I have loved watching Brazil play, with the exception, till today, of Ronaldo. Watching him today, I finally understood what his fat self was capable of. Brazil play the game exactly how it should be. They play the game like most players strive to. How is it that one country seems to have produced so many selfless players that would rather take the ball than the foul? That's one thing that seem most impressive about them. They don't seem to get fouled that much. Instead of falling down, they just try harder and win the ball. And they don't wing so many wild shots over the goal. They work the ball around and then, more often than not, they peg the ball straight into the goal keeper. They certainly make the keeper earn their keep, but in the end, the constant barrage of passes, all with the eye on the shot that's worth taking, all the while denying you the chance to even introduce yourself to the ball. And they seem to take turns shooting, regardless of who the star is.
My first pick for a new team might actually be Mexico, because they are our neighbors. Yes, I can be a geek like that. That's basically how I picked DC United in the MLS. I think, without actually looking, that DC may just be the closest city with an MLS team. I have a sneaking suspicion that we are about to get even more acquainted with Mexico than we have been in the past. We've certainly got our share of Mexico in the US, and that is only going to increase. I personally have no issues with that. I have this odd desire to one day move to Mexico and open an American restaurant. But in terms of soccer, closer association with Mexico might just help our side get better. Maybe what we need is more play between the Americas.
Other than today's game, I have loved Ghana. I didn't not love them today, but I wanted the US to advance. Ghana played beautiful soccer and earned their way into the next round. I might actually go with them as my favorite to win the cup. I am of course concerned because they immediately face Brazil. So that's a hard game to pick a favorite. Ghana might just be hungry enough for the win that Brazil doesn't stand a chance. Perhaps Brazil, with no yellow card issues, has the best chance of winning, but Ghana is more than welcome to surprise everyone some more. How cool would an African team winning the World Cup be?
I'm ending with Bruce Arena. I don't know what it's like to coach at the international level. But I have coached a number of AYSO teams in the time that Big Brother has been playing. And I am quite aware that U8 experience doesn't qualify me to make too bold a statement here. Having said that, I can think of a number of US players that I would have liked to see more of. But I'm done. It's over. Tomorrow is another day, and I might just take a break from soccer for the day. That's how much the US team upset me today. That's probably not true. I'll watch it because it's on and because this is some of the little soccer I'm guaranteed over the course of the year.