US Soccer: Tougher Opponents Will Do Wonders After Disappointing World Cup
Let's be honest. The United States national soccer team let us down at the World Cup. The team was lucky to tie England, unlucky to only tie Slovenia (but for those of you who say we should have won, why were we down 2-0 to SLOVENIA?) and only a late miracle saved the Americans from going home in an easy group.
Then, with our side of the bracket containing the soccer powers that are Uruguay, South Korea and Ghana, the United States failed to do any damage, losing to Ghana in extra time. Before the United States has hopes of winning the World Cup, maybe we should end our losing streak to Ghana first (maybe Freddy Adu should have chosen to play for them after all).
I would have been satisfied making it to the Round of 16 if we had lost to Spain, Germany, Argentina or a traditional soccer power house. Losing to Ghana after barely making it out of our group just provides false hope that one day soon we will win the World Cup.
Now look at the three previous opponents the United States faced in preparation for the World Cup. They played the Czech Republic, Turkey and Australia. One of those teams was in the World Cup, and the Socceroos bowed out in the group stage.
Why didn't the team schedule for a tough team to play in preparation for the first game against England? Were they trying to gain confidence by playing and beating weaker teams (they still lost to the Czechs) to beat the big boys of the soccer world?
The United States played Netherlands three months before the World Cup, a game in which they lost 2-1, but a game that the United States could take many positives from. This gave them experience in a hostile environment against a World Cup final team. This is what the United States must do to gain respect around the world and make themselves better.
What is the best way for the United States to get better?
Yesterday's game against Spain was not pretty, with Spain having their way with the US squad. But I would rather see this experience with losing than playing cupcakes to build confidence. Sure Spain smacked us around, and I was disappointed with the result, but the US now has played the World Cup champion to give it an idea of where the team is in comparison with others.
Tying Argentina was another great success. Not only did the US get a result from the friendly, but it played against players such as Messi and Javier Mascherano to give the team experience. The United States is capable of playing with the soccer powers of the world on any day, but the more experience we get against them will make a more consistent team for our country to watch.
With the Gold Cup and Copa America coming up, I question the US decision to participate in the Gold Cup, where the US is pretty much guaranteed a final against Mexico. Play in the Copa America and get tested by Uruguay, Brazil and Argentina rather than beating up on Canada, Panama and Guadeloupe.
By playing cupcake teams and then expecting to do damage in the World Cup is lying to the fans on how good the team really is. So I say go ahead and lose to Spain. I will take the pain in 2011 as long as it pays dividends in 2014. Go on America, make us proud.
Arguments are welcome as always.
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