U.S. Shows Copa America No Respect
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Thursday, July 05, 2007

U.S. Shows Copa America No Respect

copa-america-2007-venezuela.jpgAlthough it was well into the second half against Argentina, U.S. Soccer was finally shown what fielding a weakened team against arguably the world's best team will get you. A 4-1 drubbing, that should have been worse.

Quite frankly, when the final whistle sounded, it was actually a relief, as one couldn't help but feel a little sorry for the overwhelmed young Americans. Another ten minutes and Argentina would have probably put up three or four more goals.

So the question is: why did the Americans field such a weak team?

It seems that the reasons run from "domestic leagues start soon or are already going" to "this is a good chance for the young guys to get ready for World Cup 2010."

The latter of those evokes the most laughter from anyone outside of the U.S. Soccer family. Imagine the English F.A. telling supporters that Euro 2008 is a good opportunity to try out the young lads.

The English F.A. and manager Steve McClaren aren't even allowed to field a weakened team for a friendly.

And they shouldn't be.

It's wrong that the U.S. should give a run-out to players that are not ready for international football. You don't get ready for international football during top level tournaments. You are supposed to show that you have arrived at those tournaments.

U.S. manager Bob Bradley recently stated, "when our focus turns to our ultimate goal of qualifying for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa."

Forgetting for a moment the disrespect this shows to the Copa America, it seems strange to call "qualifying" for the World Cup the ultimate goal.

For starters, qualifying for the World Cup has not been a problem for the U.S.

They play in the weakest confederation other than Oceania. Their only real rival Mexico, is vexed when playing the Americans anywhere other than Mexico. And mysteriously, FIFA would rather pull World Cup spots from Europe or South America than to dare upset the delicate balance in North America.

Besides all of that, the U.S., with all its weaknesses, are still probably in the top two in the region.

The shock would be if they didn't qualify for the World Cup.

None of this is to say anything about the fact that sending your young players out to be humiliated doesn't prepare them for future tournaments. What World Cup champion was prepared by sending out their "B" squad to get pounded in the previous tournament?

This kind of rhetoric is reminiscent of talk prior to France '98, when many American players were cocky and dismissive about the difficult task at hand, right before scoring one goal and finishing 32nd. While those sentiments were at the complete other end of the spectrum, they are similar in showing that soccer is still very immature in the United States.

It would behoove the U.S. Soccer brain-trust, as well as many U.S. players, to watch interviews with the English national team players. Mostly what they would see is humility mixed with pride.

Respect for who they are playing, no matter how big or small, and every match matters.

Earlier this year, when dropped from the national squad, David Beckham stated he would walk back to England from the United States to play again for his country. And he will fly some 100,000 later this year to prove his loyalty and passion.

Sadly, U.S. Soccer doesn't seem to have any of this kind of passion, nor do they seem to have any respect for one of the world's premier football competitions.

You have to wonder if CONMEBOL will even bother extending invitations to the U.S. for future tournaments.

It must be disappointing to the U.S. national team fans that were excited to find out their team would make their first Copa America appearance in 12 years.

However, for true football fans of any nation, it would have been rather disconcerting if a hodgepodge, four-days-in-the-making, U.S. side had been able to hang on against eleven of the most talented footballers in the world.

U.S. Soccer will surely argue that Copa America conflicts with MLS and too closely followed the Gold Cup. But in the end, this just serves to highlight their unwillingness to play to the rest of the world's schedule.

And of course, MLS conflicts with the World Cup as well, but the U.S. position about how the Copa America and the World Cup stack-up in priority has now been well established.

Maybe the U.S. should have simply declined the invitation.


Related on other sites:
CONMEBOL not pleased with U.S. - AP - FoxSoccer.com

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