At one point, there was a half-assed plan to repost old posts, both in a transparent bid to keep MFUSA going, and because I honestly believe there are things worth revisiting in the archives. This is one of those, a post by Jason Kuenle about a USMNT fan base at odds with itself. It's more than relevant as Jurgen Klinsmann attempts to make a hard right turn with the team and program, so I present to you now.
This was originally published on June 16, 2011.
By Jason Kuenle
In two weeks time, we’ve seen opposite ends of the US fan base. We saw this piece by Chris Ballard on this site while nearly simultaneously seeing an uptick in the usual twitter vitriol as the US has struggled in the Gold Cup. Perspective is a funny thing.
I’m not going to pontificate on changing perspectives. People believe what they believe because of the values that they hold shaped by what they have experienced. Changing values is an exercise in futility and no person has experienced what another has. But the contrast between two opposite viewpoints deserves a bit of attention.
Those who have followed US soccer over the last twenty years have really only seen two true tournament failures in the US’ ascent in the footballing world, the 1998 and 2006 World Cups. Both of these instances were followed by coaching changes that coincided with the US “getting back on track” on their inevitable rise toward the top. Or at least that’s the narrative that is often told. The struggles here and elsewhere in Bob Bradley’s tenure make it easy to make his departure the beginning of the next upswing of the USMNT.
That narrative influenced part by increasing US success in soccer and part by general success of the US in everything else is a powerful one that rings true for most American fans. There is a manifest destiny aspect to it all; with the right player selection, the right tactics, and the right manager the US would have…choose your expected level of international success.
Contrast that with this quote from Chris’ post: “I had been keeping an eye out just to see how she was doing, but even though so far she’s not reached the levels of achievement as some, I just find that I have more fun with her than I ever did with you [England]. I see great potential, and I’d like to be along for the ride.”
But commonality may also be found in Chris’ words, “Every two or three years you say that you’re going to change; that this time it will be different, that this time you’ll repay my faith in you, but each time I’m let down badly. I don’t really think this is your fault – I’m sure you genuinely believe that this time, things will be different – but I feel like I need to protect myself from the constant disappointment.” He, of course, was talking about England, but two see those words from a US fan would not be out of place.
Results often determine the narrative. Opportunities taken or lost determine results. In a game as fickle as soccer, drastic swings in narrative can come from an inch here or there. In my perspective, almost all US successes and failures can be attributed that way. Without the right scorelines in matches that the US wasn’t even involved in, the knockout round successes in the 2002 World Cup and the 2009 Confederations Cup don’t happen. By finishing routine chances in the Gold Cup, the US could have drawn Panama 2-2 and beaten Guadeloupe 3-0 or 4-0. When those inches fall our way, the US does well, when they don't, red flags rise.
Potential is a dangerous thing. It presumes the ability to do great things, but without the guarantee or even probability of success. For those who see the US' potential but are unsure of when or how it will be fulfill, the first quote from Chris is most fitting, but for those that expect US success now, Chris’ second quote rings truer. The choice between the two is one of perspective.
The world loves to place a bet, with football being one of the biggest sports that people put bets on. It only makes sense that while there is no football to place a bet on many of these same people like to play at online slots at places like www.bellerockentertainment.com in order to get the same thrill of watching a game with money lying on it.