Blank slate. Ramble time?
Or a Larry King-style stream of consciousness collection of random thoughts?
More likely neither, but let's see how a directionless late night post goes...
As a fan of American soccer always looking for a breakthrough moment, even as I intellectually know it's extremely unlikely to happen, I wonder if this World Cup can provide it. England. Charlie Davies (maybe). ESPN's full court press. A confluence of factors that could be a tipping point. But probably not. Won't change anything for most of us anyway.
Still burning brain cells on the issues brought up over at Nutmeg Radio about US supporter music. Is our soccer culture too fragmented to ever find a coherent voice, or is that range of influences a strength that will allow us to form something truly unique? I hope it's the latter, even though I imagine it will be a long, painful process of stops and starts. What do American fans bring to the table as a group? It just might be up to people like the American Outlaws to figure it out.
The issue of American "style" came up thanks to Jurgen Klinsmann's comments on our apparent lack of one. This discussion, and the accusation that American soccer is devoid of distinct character elicits a fairly visceral reaction in me. The object is to win the game, which means playing your strengths; for Bob Bradley and the men that came before him, that means relying on defending and counter-attacking almost exclusively. I guess that in and of itself isn't a "style". Bah. Do what you need to do to win, and style will evolve over time. Most nations given the honor of having a "style" by experts have been A) successful internationally or B) operating top-flight leagues for decades. The US has done neither. Where's the appreciation for the time it takes to develop?
Speaking of Klinsmann, his naming to the ESPN crew dredges up all of those raw nerves from the US courtship of the German legend. The man's coaching resume is fairly thin when you think about it, though he does have "German National Team" and "Bayern Munich" in bold, 24 point font on it. Sure, his World Cup run carries weight, and his Americanized sensibilities might have made him a good fit here on some level. But I'm doubtful, without being able to prove it of course, that he could have done any better to this point than the coach we ended up with. Say what you want about Bob Bradley, he's managed to pull some fairly impressive performances out of this team. Confederations Cup aside, I can't help but wonder what might have been in Azteca if Donovan hadn't been ill and beaten to the end line for Mexico's winning goal. Yeah, I know. It doesn't matter much now.
I'm reading (in fits and starts) Filip Bondy's book Chasing the Game. It's the telling of the US story leading up to the World Cup, with some additional background on high profile players and Bob Bradley. There's nothing special about it, and there are a few fairly obvious mistakes that footy fans would catch, but it's not a terrible read. If you been around for awhile, it serves as a trip down memory lane; if you're new to the game, the National Team, or the World Cup buildup, it becomes more of a primer. There's room for that, and I'm glad to see books like this appearing; but as Adam Spangler rightfully pointed out in one of the first reviews I've seen of the book, there's little to no narrative, and the information presented is in no way new. Oh, and bits of it are maddening for people who know and love the game. Take it for what it is and move on.
How Larry King managed to spit out those USA Today columns in one sentence/thought bites, I have no idea. Maybe I'm just too damn wordy.
Have a good weekend.