The United States has qualified for every World Cup since breaking their forty year drought back in 1990. That's six in a row, a feat that is impressive in itself, no matter their ultimate performance at the tournament proper. As the proverbial "sleeping giant" though, the focus of the fans (and writers) immediately turns from the high of securing a spot to angst over what they'll do next year; already, two days after the US took the bull by the horns and won in Honduras, we're seeing the first volley of "qualifying isn't enough" pieces.
Grahame Jones at the LA Times describes it as "job half done". It's accurate and it's fair, but it just spoils the buzz. I think I might wait to write my obligatory piece in this area till next spring, when the anticipation is at its height, the US is playing warm-up matches, and we see the typical struggle between the we've-got-a-chance crowd and the everyone-is-overrating-the-US crowd. It's all so tiresome, but I recognize it's a fact of life modern American soccer.
- It truly is unfortunate how few people were able to see Saturday's match, because it was a great moment to be a fan. Paul Oberjuerge relates one fan's quest to see the game online, something that I'm sure closely matches the experience of thousands (millions?). Reading the story only reinforces my belief that I made the right decision to pay a $20 cover; I would have likely broken some of my own things if I was surfing for a stream and had trouble, and that's just not productive. What American soccer needs is a wealthy benefactor, an ardent fan who has some cash to splash around and can step in when games look to be unavailable to the masses. If you are a uber-rich footy fan who loves the Yanks, drop me an email and we'll have a chat about it...
- Don Garber has taken to giving Sepp Blatter's repeated statements that MLS needs to switch to a traditional European schedule a little lip service. You'll likely see this story referenced in several places around the web today, and I'm sure some will do lengthy write-ups on it; but it honestly doesn't deserve one, because Garber's words are easily parsed by people on this side of the pond. The MLS commissioner is attempting to placate Blatter and co. with talk of "roofs", but American fans are keenly aware that indoor soccer stadiums are a pipe dream here; when several clubs have trouble getting stadiums built without roofs, there's simply no chance that any enclosed facilities will going up. No indoor stadiums means no schedule switch, which makes Garber's statements worth nothing. I suppose they could shut up Blatter on the issue, maybe, and that's something we can all get behind.
- The saga continues in Portland over the renovations of PGE Park. Deadlines have passed, Merritt Paulson's other sports franchise, the AAA baseball Beavers, still needs a new home, and yet the club is pushing forward with ticket sales and marketing. Portland's problems, which remain despite months of negotiations and several false resolutions (from an outsider's perspective), appear worse in contrast as Vancouver looks to have settled their BC Place roof drama. I doubt MLS would threaten to pull Paulson's franchise unless things were extremely dire, but they surely can't be happy; time is ticking away, and the Timbers will surely want to maximize excitement heading towards 2011. That's a much more difficult task with the stadium renovations yet to get the green light.
Deep Cuts appears every weekday, and highlights American soccer-related items from around the web. If you have a story for Deep Cuts, you can send it along to firstname.lastname@example.org.