American soccer fans, because the US remains a country with unfulfilled potential, are notorious for finding the bad in a good situation. It just comes with the territory; we can't seem to allow ourselves to be happy, no matter how much celebration makes more sense than hand-wringing.
I'm generalizing, of course, and I'm not necessarily saying there's anything wrong with the constant questioning, diminishing, and pessimism. There's a place for all types, and far be it from me to tell you how to feel. Extremes seems to take over, though, and it bothers me that fans/bloggers/analysts are labelled either "Chicken Littles" (or worse) or "Pollyanna" with no room in between.
Still, it does get me down a little to see how many people just can't enjoy being a fan when the team is up. The United States qualified for next year's World Cup on Saturday, and yet I get the sense that many are swimming in pools of "we're not good enough" rather then "WORLD CUP HERE WE COME!". Again, not criticizing, just observing. I suppose those making derogatory statements would defend themselves as realists and pragmatists rather than wet blankets and "haters". In some case it's a reasonable defense; in others, not so much.
- Conor Casey's brace on Saturday doesn't mean he should be a first team regular, argues Compelling Soccer. There's an element of Eurosnobbery here, but I'm finding it hard to counter his argument; I certainly wasn't happy to see Casey in the lineup on Saturday night, and I don't know that I'll be banging the drum for him to start again, no matter the brace. Still, I can find fault with the criticism of Bradley because of his explanation as to why Casey played. Bradley got it right, and that's all that matters; to withhold credit from him because his thought process didn't match up what you wanted to hear is completely unfair. Bradley is the head coach for a reason, obviously knows his team, and led them to a victory not everyone believed was possible. Does that mean you have to jump on the Bob Bradley bandwagon? Of course not, but stop looking for reasons to diminish his leadership.
- Promotion/relegation based on financial concerns is something that has bounced many American soccer minds; Only One Football uses the USL/TOA disagreement as a reason to tread that path, using a potential MLS2 as a feeder league for MLS. I created my own wacky pro/rel system not too long ago, incorporating attendance as an element of the process, which was my nod to finances being part of the mix in the United States. Only One Football's approach is much more pragmatic, even if it is completely untraditional, but makes sense on many levels. It's voluntary, meaning that an MLS2 club can only move up if an MLS1 franchise chooses to go down. That wouldn't satisfy those who want to see a pyramid modeled after Europe, but might actually increase the reach and stability of pro soccer in the US. Still, I can't see it happening any time soon.
- Lamenting the lack of access American fans had to the Honduras match is likely to continue for a few days. Out of Southern Illinois University comes a good example, in which the writer argues the the US always comes just short of getting over the public-awareness hill. "It’s the major problem for the American soccer team: Every time it has a chance to put the elusive spotlight on the sport, its poor performance or the powers-that-be have dashed any hopes." I think that's just a little harsh, and doesn't address the extenuating circumstances that surround each "chance". In the case of Saturday's match, it was the inability of American leadership to dictate where the game would be shown; we can whine and moan that US Soccer should have stepped up and made sure the game would be available to the widest audience possible, but without all of the relevant details (price, logistics, scheduling, etc.) I have a hard time justifying any explosive criticism. The fact remains that if more Americans were interested the TV situation when the US is playing outside of the country in qualifying would improve. At least we won't have to worry about it for awhile.
Shallow Scratches finds stories that anyone else can find and points them out. Sometimes that means relevant commentary, and sometimes I just write stuff to make the post look good. If you want to contribute to Shallow Scratches (or hell, take it over), step right up and send an email email@example.com.