Saturday, June 12, 2010

US Soccer

Today the United States played to a draw with England.  Sure, the Yanks needed (a very 2006 World Cup vs Italy) style goal when the English goaltender Robert Green misplayed a ball and let in a Clint Dempsey shot late in the first half.  But, the US outplayed the number 3 team in the world and had a shot to win near the end with a Jozy Altidore shot.  Altidore, using his linebacker size and wide receiver speed to get an advantage before launching a shot that hit off the bar, saving Green from more backlash.  Jay Demerit and Oguchi Onyewu played incredible defense, and Tim Howard cleaned up the rest of the mess.  Howard, the quarterback of the defense, he yelled out signals to US to watch for the extreme skill of the Three Lions. 

Does this show us anything about US soccer?  The US did have more fans at the match and the Star Spangled Banner was sung louder than any anthem at the World Cup yet, besides the hosts.  The US has improved to the point where the majority of the players make their living in Europe, including stars Howard, Donovan and Dempsey in the English Premier League, the best in the world.  The US has improved to the point where they can break a huge winning streak for Spain, almost beat Brazil and tie England.   Years ago, that would be virtually impossible.  I can go on about the growing MLS or tickets sales, but fans don't translate into wins on the World Stage.  The players are better than ever and are proving it against England.

Now the US needs to build off the last few years of success.  They have to advance past the group and I would say with a game in the group of 16.  Making the elite 8 would show the world this isn't a fluke.  I would be happy with advancing to the knock out stage, but we need to keep to momentum going.  Great teams win when they are on the biggest stage.

Is the US a player on the global stage of soccer?  No, not yet, but they just put everyone on notice.

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