With time to reflect on the American’s run in the 2014 World Cup, the staff of NoTicketSports looks back and discusses whether it can be called a success.
Joe Bianchino: Before trying to reflect on the USA’s performance in the World Cup, you need to ask yourself whether you’re an optimist or a pessimist. Because the truth of the last few weeks is that, depending on your disposition, you can come away from their play buoyed with realistic hope for a better future, or sunken in despair in realization of their inadequacies.
In terms of skill, the Americans looked hopelessly outgunned throughout much of their four games, lacking the touch and ability to make passes and plays better sides make with ease.
And while he has received mountains of praise, their coach, Jurgen Klinsmann, I think, looked lost at times during each of the team’s matches – refusing to even try, it seemed, to maintain any semblance of possession, packing nine behind the ball and inviting his opposition to carry the ball at and attack his weak defense.
This to say nothing of his controversial choice to leave Landon Donovan off the team – a man who could have been some use to the Americans in the final minutes of the game against Belgium.
With all that said, though, it’s tough for me to not feel the good vibes everyone else seems to be feeling. It was, after all, an admirable performance – better than any of us realistically expected, with flashes of youthful brilliance in Julian Green and DeAndre Yedlin.
So, how should we look at their performance? I don’t know. What you see may say as much about you as it does them. Like a Rorschach test.
Junior: [Censored Due To Wildly Obscene Phrasing] Wondo.
Junior: I’ve now had a couple days to reflect, and I’ll say it again: [Censored Due To Wildly Obscene Phrasing] Wondo. How do you not bury that in the back of the ol’ onion bag?
Anywho…The US-of-A clearly didn’t have the firepower to hang with the Belgians. Up and down the 11, the foreigners are just more solid. And though it’s worthy of discussion, I won’t start firing away about the shape Jergen’s Lotion sent out there, or his willingness to let the opposition control the game, because I don’t know what else he could have done other than park the bus and counterpunch when the opportunity arose. I know it’s been suggested that he should have pushed – had his boys take a high line, and take the fight to Belgium – but I’m pretty sure that would have resulted in a 5-0 scoreline with a red card to Howard after he strangled Bradley and company for [Censored Due To Wildly Obscene Phrasing] in the middle third.
Jeffrey Simpson Day: Ghana, Portugal, Germany, Belgium, and the U.S. Can someone please put those in descending order based purely on soccer talent?
Mark Graydon: Purely on soccer talent:
To be honest, though, while the USA only has one or maximum two players that would make the English, Spanish or Italian squads, they STILL got further in the tournament than those “powers.”
Jeffrey Simpson Day: Exactly. The U.S. is at the bottom of that list…yet they beat one, tied (read: dominated and should’ve beaten) another, and were highly competitive against the other two. To me, that’s a successful World Cup. Klinsmann, regardless of how you feel about his roster selection and tactics, accomplished three pretty big things:
1.) He got the U.S. to advance from the group of death (and had they finished off Portugal, they’d have had a legitimate shot at winning the group) – As Mark said, that’s better than a lot of more talented and heralded teams. And it exceeded the expectations of about 85% of the non-American world.
2.) He got the U.S. to be competitive in every one of those games – Some of them weren’t pretty, but as Junior said, they were consistently facing some serious firepower. Don’t think the U.S. being in those games was a big deal? Check the ratings and live streaming statistics for them. The American public noticed.
3.) He got a lot of the young guys some game time – This is big in terms of the young guys getting tournament experience, he and the youngsters developing a good relationship, and in possibly getting a few of them into bigger, European clubs (or getting more game time for those already there). Already rumors of Yedlin to Roma…where I’m guessing he’ll learn to dive better. Maybe he can become the American Robben.
Joe Bianchino: I agree with almost everything that’s been said here, which is why I, for the most part, view this World Cup as a success for the U.S.
But, with that said, it’s impossible for me to look back without being reminded of what Mark touched on above – the U.S.’s significant skill deficiency versus the world’s other good teams.
Yes, we showed some flash and we played well in spurts, and got out of an impossibly difficult group…
But our players, flat out, aren’t as good as they should or need to be. Will they be four years from now? Maybe. There’s reason to believe they can be. But right now, they just aren’t.
Mark Graydon: Totally agree. It was, overall, a successful World Cup from the US. Nobody had them coming out of that difficult group -in fact, few thought third place was possible.
But, as we’ve said, the Belgium game, and the record number of saves from Howard, highlights the chasm. I believe Belgium had 26 shots on target vs the Americans, but only one on target against the “beatable” Argentinians – hardly a defensive power house.
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing – Shakespeare
For complete staff bios go to noticketsports.com/staff.