Congratulations to Jurgen Klinsman

On being shortlisted to the FIFA World Manager of the Year Award. The nomination does surprise me slightly. But in the spirit of supporting our National Team Manager more than the Commissioner of MLS would like me to, let me put forward this argument:

1) Although Bob Bradley did lead the team out of the group in 2010 South Africa, it was a markedly easy–indeed, as easy as the US could ever hope to gain–group. Yet despite this, we were 30 seconds and a dramatic Donovan goal from MISSING the knockout round (or a routine save by an awful England Goalkeeper in the 1st match). And then we lost to a Ghana side most thought we should have beaten. All in all, yes we got through, but it was nothing to be satisfied about.

2) The US in Brazil had it’s Plan A shredded in 20 minutes, along with Jozy Altidore’s hamstring. The #2 striker, Aron Johannson, was injured before halftime of the same Ghana rematch. So for the rest of the World Cup, we had a non-striker playing target forward in Clint Dempsey. We were essentially left bereft of international goalscoring talent by those injuries, outside of Dempsey, who playing up top, opposing defenses could then key on.

3) Also because of those injuries, Michael Bradley was forced to play without an option ahead of him. In the beginning of the Ghana match, the team was fluid, aggressive, with crisp passing that left their opponent little choice but to commit dangerous foul after dangerous foul. It truly ought to have been 2-0 or 3-1 before half. The injuries changed the way the entire team played. And yet, they advanced out of a group that most observers said the US would fail to qualify from, and very well might finish last with 0 points.

4) In fact, despite the injuries, we were exactly 30 seconds from rendering the Germany match a meaningless friendly. If not for Geoff Cameron playing a 3 instead of a 6 match, we beat Portugal, and are through with 6 points and have nothing but placement to play Germany for. We’d have been as well-rested as Belgium, IF we had been forced to play them at all.

That the US accomplished that with what was, in truth, a makeshift, plan C lineup, speaks well of the coach and the mentality he instilled in them. Whatever Landonphiles want to say about his exclusion, the team played well. Well enough for Klinsmann to merit the shortlist, IMHO.

Well, I Never Thought Such a Good Result

Could feel so much like a loss. Gutted by that Portuguese dagger at the end. But then, we stole a game with a similar strike. Soccer is a cruel game, but it often has a certain wicked symmetry. 

Still, one thing that’s always true: I’m never ashamed of the way this team plays. The US Men’s team plays every game with grit and resolve and never-say-die. We’re not the best technicians on the ball. But we never, ever, give up. And most fans, people who actually follow the team, when they saw THE GROUP OF DEATH, would’ve said, “If the US gets four points, that’s an accomplishment.”

Well, we have four points. And the job isn’t quite done yet. One more game to go. But it might not have to be as rugged as the first two. Not saying the US knows how to play for ties. But both teams know the score. And both the US and Germany can advance with a draw. No one knows how to massage a scoreline like the Germans. Then again, I could be talking out my hat, and both teams could charge at each other for three points. Who knows in this World Cup? Best thing to do is root for Portugal to down Ghana by 1 goal. Draw for them works too. Whole lot of scenarios work, which is a lot better than many people hoped for the US when we saw the draw back in December. 

The US vs Mexico World Cup Qualifier

May have nothing to do with my writing. But it will PLENTY to do with my mental well-being.

So FOR FREEDOM! US over Mexico, please 😉

So it is written. So Saint Landon made it be. Dos a Cero!

UPDATE: This piece is priceless. Yes, Columbus, Ohio is the MORDOR of CONCACAF. Where there’s a whip, there’s a way!–sow.html