The US men’s soccer team lost 2-1 Ghana the other day.
That’s it, the end of this World Cup for the US. This sucks. Though most commentators outside the States gave us little chance of advancing out of our group, I and many others here had hope. We had a very strong run four years ago in Korea and Japan. There was no reason to think that we couldn’t build on that momentum. But, alas, this has been a down year for us.
It seems there’s a pattern emerging here.
In 1994, when we were hosting the Cup, we advanced out of our group with a very good showing. Sure, it helps to play at home, but advancing for the first time in 50 years is still significant. In the second round, we played Brazil, the eventual champions to a 1-0 result (on July 4, nonetheless). I was more than happy with the progress.
In 1998, we qualified for the Cup in France, but didn’t show so well. We lost all three matches to Germany, Iran and Yugoslavia. We went in with some risky strategies and players and it ended in disaster.
In 2002, we once again qualified, this time to go to Korea and Japan. There’s little bad to say about our showing there- we advanced out of our group with a stunning win over Portugal (one of the favorites), a tie with host South Korea and a loss to Poland. We went on to the second round to face Mexico, one of our biggest (only?) rivals. We won this match decisively, only to lose to Germany in the quarter-finals. Overall, a good showing for the US.
So, what’s the pattern? We can’t play in Europe. We’ve played well at home and in Asia, but we can’t go up against European teams in Europe.
Luckily the next Cup is not in Europe, its in Africa (for the first time). Hopefully that fact will help us out next time, but we need more than that to make it into the top flight of soccer playing nations- we need time, and we might need a new national team coach.