I walked into my home after a long week of work to be greeted by the joyous sounds of soccer pregame. Mexico was playing the US but normally the USMNT plays Mexico well and the fans get really into the game, so it is about as good as US Mens Soccer gets. Not to mention even though my last name is about as Polish as it gets, I do get excited to watch my home country compete in pretty much anything. The last game I watched was Brazil v Argentina yesterday, and I did understand that this game would not be played as well as Brazil’s 3-0 win, but boy was I surprised.
US games never get off to a good start because you normally watch a little of the pregame show, which does hail the Pierre McGuire of soccer commentating, but the bar is so low after that the game can almost never be more upsetting. Today was one of those days where it was. From the kick off, it seemed that the US was not trying to look like an actual organized national team representing its country on the hallowed ground that is a futball field, but went for more of an AYSO style of play. Disorganization from top to bottom. They could barely put more than a few passes together before the ball was stolen and Mexico was counter attacking the other way. Mexico was playing with a three headed monster up top of Giovani Dos Santos, Carlos Vella, and Chicharito, but they have never been known as a defensively strong team and clearly did not want to protect the net because they were not playing Ochoa, so the US had no excuse to be playing so poorly.
The game continued to disappoint and even began to get a little chippy. Twenty minutes in and now the play had downgraded from organized AYSO to a solid Sunday league intramural game with some friends. I typically like a little fire in my soccer games, but the Mexican national team was flopping and whining more than usual today, which is never fun to watch. Finally, a bolt of lightning from Mexico blared off Tim “The Secretary of Defense” Howard and then off the post and you felt the tides turning, maybe this wouldn’t be as much of a waste of time after all. A few minutes later, Mexico scored and dashed all my hopes of a stellar goalkeeping display. It seemed like fate was laughing at my Friday night when Tim Howard went down like a sack of potatoes while taking a goal kick. I thought he was a victim of sniper fire, however, the announcers were saying it was a groin sprain and that clearly effected the outfield players. Now the US players looked flustered and were going into tackles hard and reckless. Two yellow cards later, the US limped into the second half.
To be honest, I changed the channel to avoid Alexi Lalas and his awful “color commentary,” if you can even call it that, but there wasn’t anything on TV was back on FS1 for the second half. I will say this, the US came out strong in the second half and even scored a goal early to tie it up, but the amount of chances that bald man in the middle who goes by the name of Michael Bradley ruined for the team was absurd. I could quite literally see my father boiling from the inside with anger. Swearing in Polish under his breath, it reminded of me when he talks about when the US tried to have a break every 15 minutes for commercials when it hosted the World Cup in 1994. Yes that actually happened.
No surprise to anyone, the below average play continued through the end of the game. For a brief second, Mexico stopped flopping and complaining for long enough to put some passes together and an above average cross that Rafa Marquez was able to finish and take the lead, truly whipped cream on excrement. Minutes later, the game was blown to an end and Mexico celebrated like they won the World Cup rather than just taking its first step towards qualifying.
Although not very entertaining, it was very eye opening to see that even at the pinnacle of soccer. I hope more American athletes transition into soccer. Who wouldn’t want to watch Lebron James in goal or Russell Westbrook cutting in on the wing. It would be amazing to watch. But until there is either more money put into the MLS, or there was an easier way to transition into the top leagues with the money like the BPL or Spanish Primera, there will continue to be a grand canyon like gap between the our American team and the rest of the world.