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Sunday, September 04, 2005

Lost In The Shuffle

Last night, the U.S. men's national soccer team, ranked #6 by FIFA, international soccer's governing body, beat Mexico, ranked #5 by FIFA, 2-0, for the seventh time in their past twelve meetings, guaranteeing them a spot in World Cup 2006. In all likelihood, the U.S. men's team will be one of the top eight seeds, thereby assuring them that to get to the next round they won't have an international power in their same initial group. On a day when Scotland tied Italy and Paraguay upset Argentina, the U.S. men rose to the occasion.

This is a great victory for the U.S. men and U.S. soccer, yet probably was obscured by the opening weekend in college football and the various pennant races in Major League Baseball, not to mention the final exhibition games in the National Football League. To get to the World Cup, the U.S. team had to get by a bitter rival, one that seemingly resents the surging U.S. squad. (Click on the link and read the comments of Landon Donovan and the Mexican national team's coach to see what I mean).

It seems that finally, after years and years of youth soccer, the U.S. is finally mining the depths of the commitments of soccer moms and dads everywhere and coming up with the right combination of players to compete effectively on the international level. That's not, however, to say that the U.S. is caught up in every respect. U.S. players haven't achieved the international stature of the stars from many other countries. Yes, Freddy Adu has received a ton of publicity, but he's nowhere on the same international stage as almost the entire Brazilian national team (among whom are names such as Dida, Roberto Carlos, Ze Roberto, Roque Jr., Julio Baptista, Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Adriano, etc.), England's David Beckham, Ashely Cole, Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen, France's Zidane Zidane, Thierry Henry, Claude Makelele, Lillian Thuram, David Trezeguet, Italy's Totti, Del Piero, Tacchinardi, Vieri, etc. Still, the U.S. has come a long way, and World Cup 2006 will definitely be worth watching in the United States next year.


Anonymous TigerSoccer said...

I don't know if you saw the second US goal, but it was a set play tha a Princeton basketball fan would be proud of. Donovan hit a short corner to Beasley who passed it back to Reyna. Beasley then cut hard to the goal and scraped his man off of Donovan. Reyna found him with a perfect through ball that caught him in stride.

Petie Carril would have been proud.

3:08 PM  

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