Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Go USA Soccer

We've got a team once again that's doing us proud, a rerun of the Miracle on Ice in the '86 Olympics with the underdog US hockey team.

This summer there's so much going wrong out there you could call it the nadir of our oil-soaked 20th century way of life, but the US national soccer team is a little corner of optimism and hope, with its nail-biting, gut wrenching, never-say-die run to the quarterfinal round. The team has astounded pundits all over the world, and made a once marginal sport central to millions of lives, at least for a few magic hours. I was watching a live stream, listening to the Argentinian announcers belittle the Yanks at half time with typical Southern Cone arrogance, saying they had no finishers, no style, openly rooting for the Algerians. By the end of the game they had changed their tune and were parroting the line about all the youth soccer participants in the US and acknowledging the team has some panache in the person of Landon Donovan, who did what every soccer coach in America tells their players, follow your pass, support, and finish hard, to put the US up in the final seconds of the game.

It's obvious that this is a game that is more than just a game. At play are our notions of national character and moral fiber. Like all sports, it allows us a morality play of good and evil, simple truths yes, but we live by them whether we like to admit it or not. It is stupid to make more of it than this, and I'm already done with the bleating from media commentators about American values displayed in the three games so far, and can't help thinking what would they be writing if the ball had hit the post instead. Would our character be any worse for a missed shot?

Still, it's good to see hard work and grit pay off , especially after hearing for so many years that American soccer has no beauty, no style, and how we need to adopt more of the beautiful passing game of the Spaniards or Brazilians. Here's a shout out for hustle and team-work American style.

Even better that the likes of Glenn Beck said recently how he hates soccer because it's not American. Once again the far right is waking up on the wrong side of the bed. How is Landon Donovan, the soft-spoken, polite, humble hero of this team, not American?
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