Tuesday, June 21, 2016

US men's soccer. Shameful

The ever politically correct talking heads can gloss it over all they want, but the fact remains the US men's national team isn't any good.

Sure, they're probably better than any team in your city and can usually defeat countries who's main claim to fame is putting the banana in "banana republic" or the rum in your daiquiri. But against elite international competition they are exposed as the second class team they are.

Their recently concluded match with Argentina was an embarrassment. Though the final score read only 4-0, it was not indicative of the total domination the Argentines put on the Yanks. At that, in soccer, four-zip is a blowout. That's like an NFL team drubbing another 35-0. Or an NBA team winning by 50. 

Time of possession throughout the game is unknown, but it appeared to be about 99:1 in favor of Argentina. When the Americans had the ball -- it wasn't for long.  Yours truly watched that game and can't remember the USA generating a single shot on goal, let alone coming close to scoring one. This was truly a lop-sided contest indeed. It was like the Harlem Globetrotters toying with the Washington Generals. Knowing they were vastly superior, the Argentines were content to play a conservative game. They ran minute after agonizing minute off the clock and rarely attacked. Had they played more aggressively, it's entirely possible, perhaps probable, they would have scored several more goals. Even in lay-back mode, they narrowly missed some easy chances.

All of which begs a question. In a nation of over 300 million people, why can't US men's soccer compete with other quality national teams from around the world? After all, their lady counterparts have done so, and are arguably the best on the planet.

Here's a theory. The talent pool has been depleted by gifted athletes pursuing other interests.

While many countries, including Argentina, consider futbol the ultimate sport, it is not so in America.

Consider a few rough numbers. Multiply the number of NFL teams by over 50 guys on each roster and there's over 1500 jocks that don't play soccer. 

Do the math on Major League Baseball. Besides the roughly 30 teams in the big leagues at 25 players a pop (750), they all have at least four or five minor league teams. Add it all up and that's a few thousand more deleted from the soccer equation. 

The NBA and it's development league account for at least several hundred more missing in action. True, behemoth football linemen, a lot of pudgy slow guys in baseball, and likely anybody over six feet four probably couldn't maneuver well enough to be effective in high class futbol, but many of the "skilled" players might have made the grade on the pitch had they chose that as their profession. Consider shifty/speedy wide receivers and running backs. Defensive backs. Point guards, etc.

Several truths have become quite evident in recent years. 

Most American male super-jocks choose to take their talents in another direction. 
By and large the American sporting public has always been and remains far more interested in other sports than soccer.
The numbers themselves dictate a promising athlete has a far better chance of catching on with a team in another sports league -- and for more money -- then ever becoming a world class soccer player. 

For those reasons, it's little wonder the US men's national team lags so far behind other countries who's best athletes are devoted to futbol since childhood. They don't have a whole lot of other options.

Conversely,that might also explain why the US ladies team is so good. There is no Major League Baseball available to them. Nor pro football, other than a few rag-tag leagues here and there that pay pennies. True, the WNBA is alive and sort of well, but nobody pays any attention to them until their playoffs start. Sometimes not even then. 

The NHL siphons off countless players every year that might have turned out to be successful at soccer. The fairer sex has never had that option. Hence, it should be no great surprise the US ladies soccer team has so many terrific athletes and is an elite squad. 

The federations, talking heads, and other legions of "trendy" people can blather on all the wish telling Americans that soccer is the "world" game. In many quarters around the globe they're right. Futbol mania rules.

But not in America. Never has and likely never will. Too much other stuff going on. Other pro sports leagues have expanded. Pro soccer leagues continue to fight for survival. 

So hurray for the women being so good, but the men will continue to stink it up against top flight international competition. There's reasons for both. 

It just is what it is...... 

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