I Expect Better.
For Many Reasons I Have Earned The Right To Expect Better.
Using Twitter while watching last night's debacle in Nashville was never a good idea. Instead of sitting down after the game and issuing my thought-provoking diatribe, I slept on it to get back to a 'level-set', which is actually corporate jargon I really cannot stand. Before you read my take below, please take a few minutes to watch the video, and take particular note of the emotion coming from these players in their interviews.
I was a decent player but without the necessary attribute of pace. I tried to make up for my lack of speed with emotion, physicality, and the never-ending desire to win. Thanks to the coaching i received early on, I found my way to playing and coaching college soccer. My coaches were a massive influence on me and carried over way beyond college with the sport and with my career. I was lucky enough to be raised in an area of Miami that had a soccer club, even back in the dark ages. At that time, there were only established youth soccer clubs in Key Biscayne, Coral Gables, Miami Shores, and Kendall. I was playing as early as six years old and last competed two years ago, at age 61, in an over-60 seven-a-side tournament in Bradenton, Florida. After fifty-five years of playing my heart out, I feel like I have earned the right to expect better from the men's national team.
Playing for your national team is not an obligation and it should be an honor to represent your country. Whether you play with a third division team or a top European club, when you are called into your national team, the country over club rules and protocols take effect. Someone please explain to me how and why Weston McKinnie violated Covid-19 protocol - the second time in five months? Is it ego or the 'prima donna' syndrome or just plain stupidity? Note: 'prima donna' - a very temperamental person with an inflated view of their own talent or importance.
The 'away' factor. To the former USMNT players, pundits, and journalists: Please Stop. Stop discussing the trials and tributes of having to play an away qualifying match. Stop with the travel, the rapid fans, the poorly lit stadiums, and the field being too wet. Just plain stop. That fateful game almost four years ago against Trinidad & Tobago instigated more excuses but the reality was in the qualifying run up, the U.S. failed to take the necessary and expected points both at home and away, leading to a 'must-tie' situation against Alvin Jones and his fellow Soca Warriors. Alvin Jones beat Tim Howard from 35-yards in that game that resulted in the U.S. not qualifying for the 2018 World Cup.
On to San Pedro Sula we go. The northwest region of Honduras is known for its warm, tropical climate and Wednesday will be no different. Thankfully, and for some strange reason, the Honduran federation moved the kickoff back to 10:30 EDT, which is 8:30 Honduras time. That time slot will allow the temperatures to moderate a bit from the low 90's expected during the day. Yes, the Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano will be filled with fun-loving supporters and the field will be uneven and wet, but two goals will be erected, lines will be painted on field, and CONCACAF will provide the referees.
After two games in this final round of qualifying, the U.S. sits on 2 points with one goal scored. After Wednesday night's game at Honduras, five more away matches with Panama, Jamaica, Canada, Mexico, and Costa Rica remain. Six away games with 18 total points still to be earned. Does anyone want to predict how many points from the possible eighteen the U.S. earns?
You can call this a rant, and you can target me as being negative. I don't see this take that way at all. I see this as a 'level-set' analysis of the men's national team. Gregg Berhalter and his staff have their work cut to figure out how to get to Qatar in November of 2022. 'Level-set' better come quickly.
That is my take. What is yours? @gary1123 justmytake.net
photo credit: Eminetta Canada