Saturday, June 17, 2006

Dear Team USA

It's no secret that you and I have a troubled relationship. I'll never love you. I'm completely unfaithful to you, and, well, I've been seeing teams in your very group on the side. What can I say? There's just no chemistry between us. Sometimes I don't even like you very much, despite the fact that I do like several of your players a lot. But frankly, I'd written you off.

And what did you go and do? You showed--spirit! passion! drama! determination! You refused to give up! You were kind of inspiring! Even down to nine men--nine men!--you held on. Minutes after the match finished, my mother (hi Mom!), a lifelong fanatical supporter of the other football, left an exhilirated message on my voicemail about how thrilling you'd been! Derek tells me people are wandering into the bookstore, seeing the daily World Cup results posted, and asking about the draw, what it means, what next. Is it possible you might have gone some way toward captivating the average American sports fan at last? (After all, who can call soccer a "sissy" sport anymore after that image of blood pouring from Brian McBride's face?) (Actually, I'd like to send the next American who uses the s word straight over to the Polish hooligan camp to get a good old fashioned re-education--with axes.)

The harsh reality of the situation is that you are the only team in your group who has not yet scored a single goal, and you're still in last place. And you are up against some very strong and experienced sides. But today, in both matches, we learned that the competition is not nearly as invincible as it seemed. Whatever happened next week (and do not underestimate the Black Stars of Ghana), this is going to be the match people remember for you for, not that embarrassing drubbing at the hands of the Czechs. Following the first round, I thought this was one group that was a cinch to predict. I never expected you to turn into the scrappy underdogs. Well done, lads.

One small request, though: could you ask your supporters to do something about that "U!S!A! U!S!A!" chant? Aside from being not a bit clever (and what's the point of football chants if they aren't?), it has an ugly aural quality about it that kind of makes my blood run cold, like you're about to invade a country, kill their leaders, and convert them to Christianity, you know?

Thanks. I'm sorry things haven't worked out between us, but I hope we can still be friends.

See you next Thursday.



The Fan's Attic said...

While the USA chant may not be clever, isn't the fact that it makes your "blood run cold" mean it is a somewhat effective chant?

Lynda said...


I mean, by that logic--Polish soccer hooligans make my blood run cold, too, but that doesn't make them great fans.

As I implied, the sound of it makes me think of everything that's ugly about nationalism (not saying, of course, anything about the fans chanting it, only how it sounds to me), as opposed to being proud of and supporting your country. Obviously, people like it, so, you know, it's not going anywhere. I think it's a stupid chant; Portland Timbers have a couple of chants I think are lame too. So it goes.

sal said...

scrappy and spirited maybe, but that shuold be a base lvl of expectation, not a one time showing. the US has maybe 40 years worth of yesteredays display to earn the beginnings of any loyalty of me. and hopefully by then the should be retired keller will be. italy should have come out with 3 and it's sad they did not.

Lynda said...

Really? I'm not much of an Italian soccer fan, but I was interested in this new attacking team--but they lost me with their nasty tactics, plus not up to their expected standards of play this game I thought.

Keller's actually one of the players I really like--along with Beasley, McBride, Reyna, among others--and I liked this Convey kid a lot. It's funny how some teams just don't click with you for whatever reason, though. England's been the big surprise for me in that respect--so many players I love, Rooney and Joe Cole and Gerrard and yet their performance as a team has completely left me cold this year.

sal said...

keller lost me with his own nasty tactics when he wsa at UP. i watched a game vs ucla and his sportsmanship was very poor. maybe thats what it takess to 'make it' in the modern game, but i'm a purist of sorts. since then i have never been a fan of kellers and the saves made yesterday weren't special by any means, as decent as any commoner.

Mike said...

Lynda, sounds like someone is a little jealous that we are proud of our country, and are not too scared to let that be known. Hell, when U-S-A, U-S-A is chanted, it even comes close to bringing Americans to "enraged tears". Its called LOVE and PRIDE for ones nation. You should try it sometime........that is, if you indeed are proud of your nation. It seems that no other nation has as much pride for their country as us Americans. And thats very sad. So please, dont hate us for it. U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!!!!

Lynda said...

Um, Mike? I am an American.

Since this post is a year old, I suspect this is a drive-by comment and you won't be back, which is too bad, because I confess I am having trouble making head or tails of it. In lecturing me on the fact that I am "a little jealous" about fans being "proud of our country" etc. you do seem a bit confused about my nationality. Leaving aside the fact that it would be a sad soccer fan indeed who was jealous of supporters of the US team--a passionate but, let's face it, small group compared to the per capita turnout from other nations--I can't figure out how you arrived at that conclusion, if you read the post at all or took a moment to glance at our "about."

Also, "enraged tears" sounds fucking scary to me, and not in a good freak-out-your-opponent kind of way.

Anyway, as far as national pride goes, no, I am not particularly proud of my country's role on the world stage at the moment, nor do I take "pride" in something for which I can take no credit: the chance circumstance on having been born on one particular piece of soil. (And--have you actually done any traveling, Mike? Lots of people, the world over, are proud of their countries. I hope I'm not going to have to start suggesting people google things like "the myth of American exceptionalism.") But that has nothing to do with soccer. I just don't like the US national team's style of footie.

I am actually planning a piece on the squads I've seen at Copa and the U-21 World Cup, if I ever get around to it. I think the future of the US national team might be looking up...