Monday, June 08, 2009

Are We That Bad?

The question in presidential campaigns is supposed to be "are you better off today than you were four years ago?" Since the World Cup runs on the same quadrennial cycle, you can ask the same question in soccer. Steve Davis over at ESPN thinks the answer to that question is obviously "no," when it comes to the US national team. I'm not quite so cure.

The past week was a bit of white knuckle ride for US soccer fans. Last Wednesday, we traveled to Costa Rica, a placed we've never won before, for a World Cup Qualifier and quickly embarrassed ourselves, losing 3-1 (it looked worse than tat). Then on Saturday, playing essentially an away match in Chicago, things started badly with an early goal conceded against Honduras. Thankfully, things improved considerably and, thanks to a Carlos Bocanegra header, the US pulled out a 2-1 win.

The fact is, for all the hand wringing and (justified) frustration with Bob Bradley's personnel and tactical decisions (no Torres or Adu on the bench Saturday, Bob?!?), we're halfway through the final round of qualifying and sitting in a solid second place in the group. We're well on our way to South Africa 2010, even factoring in the sure fire loss to Mexico in the Azteca. The sky is not falling, although it may be a bit cloudy. And hey, at least our players aren't tearing up the turf burying stuff underneath to ward off evil spirits!

I think it's premature to come to the conclusion Davis does before we make it through the Confederations Cup in South Africa, which starts next week. In the space of a week, we'll face defending World Cup holders Italy, South American champs Brazil, and African champs Egypt. If we fall flat on our face, like we did in Germany 2006, I'll agree with Davis. But at least let me have a little hope for a couple more weeks, OK?

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