Chin Up America: Your 'Soccer' Team Doesn't Suck!

Jonathon DuffyContributor IJune 21, 2009

PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 15:  Team USA pose for a groupe photograph during the FIFA Confederations Cup match between USA and Italy at Loftus Versfeld Stadium on June 15, 2009 in Pretoria, South Africa.  (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)

Calm down America!

I am English and have read many interesting articles about how the U.S. National Soccer Team is "disappointing" and "uninspiring." I also have gathered that, although soccer is by far not your favorite sport, many Americans still want their side to represent their great nation in the World Cup next year with pride; and more importantly, be successful in it. And obviously a good national side increases interest in the sport!

Now, let's be honest. The USA will not win the World Cup next year. But you don't need to even make the final to be successful in the tournament. To make the quarterfinals would be great!

The problem lies with the team's attitude. For a country that is renowned for its tough, proud, and a little "in your face" winning attitude (which I personally love, btw) your side underestimates themselves.

The team features some of the most underrated players in the game (e.g. Landon Donovan, Oguchi Onyewu and Clint Dempsey) and some of the best young talent around right now (e.g. Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore and Freddy Adu), as well as a number of seasoned top class players (e.g. Tim Howard, Jonathon Spector, Jay DeMerit, DaMarcus Beasley and Carlos Bocanegra).

Fine, many of those players aren't in the same league as Kaka and Lio Messi, I agree. But take confidence in the way you outplayed Italy, even with 10 men! And that you held them at 1-0 for almost an hour. And I believe you could have won, or at least drawn if it wasn't for Guiseppe Rossi's amazing shot, andyou won't concede many goals like that.

The problem is that many players don't live up to their standards in big games. Jozy Altidore has been useless in the Confederations Cup so far! Michael Bradley lacks the end product while Clint Dempsey has been pretty average.

Another major problem is the MLS. Sorry Americans, but its quality is poor at the moment. The David Beckham situation wasn't done correctly. I was in America when he first moved and it seemed that people were only interested when he signed, but didn't hear much about him when he was playing. Okay, injuries happened, I know. But what about Freddy Ljumberg? I'm not sure if he has retired. He's not the biggest signing in the US but his move should create some interest. I knew he went to the MLS but I'm not sure who he plays for! (I do know it is the Seattle Sounders now, thanks)

Players like Landon Donovan have no competition in the US. They need to move out at a certain level because when it comes to a World Cup, Jozy Altidore will be playing against Inter Milan's Maicon or Spain's Sergio Ramos, not Chris Wingert of Real Salt Lake.

On a positive note, Landon Donovan would be in the team of the tournament. He is a fantastic player who can hold the ball, run with it, pass it beautifully and compete for it. And he is a healthy scoring machine. Above all, however, he is a leader...and with big game experience.

Plus, Oguchi Onyewu is tough. He is the perfect centre back. He is strong in the air, he closes down players before they reach the ball, which is the result of his marking abilities and his pace (and he is fast for a big guy), and what impressed me was how he kept some of the best Italian attackers out. He is a one man defense. And in Tim Howard the US have a reliable goalkeeper. He is top class. Since he left Manchester United he has improved so much. I would go as far to say that he could even win back the United No.1 jersey. He is one of the main reasons that Everton are so good. But then he's not the first world class keeper the US have produced, and looking at Brad Guzan he won't be the last.

So the Confederations Cup hasn't been a failure for American Soccer fans. After all you had to beat Mexico to get there! It is an important experience for many of the squad as they are discovering the vast difference in style and quality with teams like Brazil and Italy that you can't find in North America. And meanwhile, Jozy Altidore, Bradley, Onweyu, Howard and Adu will have plenty of experience in Europe by then as they are all at good clubs. And with Landon Donovan anything can happen.

As of writing, the USA are 14th in the world. Above Czech Republic, Australia, Ivory Coast and way above Egypt, who could be seen as a possible outsider if they qualify for the World Cup following their performances against Brazil and Italy. I remember England were 12th going into the last world cup and we all thought we could have made the semis if it wasn't for Rooney's red card in the last 8!

So USA will do better in the World Cup in 2010. Good luck tonight against Egypt!