The time has come for me to share my thoughts on our U.S. team and go public. The match was between a 1st place team vs the 2nd place USA, in Cincinnati. It was scoreless at the break. It was a crucial World Cup qualifier. It was a pretty cold night with a Nov. temp in the 40s with some scattered light rain. Mexico seemed more potent that first half then the U.S. men. On your left is my GI Joe in his USA soccer uniform. Their defense at times got caught as Mexican opponents ran inside their defense with sheer precision passes; their main problem: they didn’t finish off a last boot to get the ball into the net. Thank God.
These are names to watch Timothy Weah (winger), Zack Steffen (goalie), Walker Zimmerman (center back who due to an injury was out of the Gold Cup), Weston McKennie, Yunus Musah (forward), Tyler Adams (midfielder, usually R back, and the Captain), Christian Pulisic Star forward. The 2nd half something happened, and our defenders found a way to plug their offense. Finally, I can say, after sensing that being their main weakness for years, I can say with a smile, Oh brother I think we got our magic formula back from the days of 2002-06 when both defenders and attackers were so quick and tough, the international world took a big notice.
The Mexican team with a smart manager came into the year with a perfect 5-0 record over the U.S. before 2021. But, then all of the Americans that were playing in overseas leagues were recalled and this is a very important concept, they got to play together. And, if all goes well and on schedule they will continue to get stronger, and scare the pants off the rest of the top hot shot world.
On Tues, Nov 16, we will see how good the team is without W. McKeenie and Mile Robinson. How good was McKeenie? You’ve seen McKeenie react. He is a no quitter. And, dam cool, and he scored America’s 2nd goal. McKennie tried to combine with Adams, but the ball hit a defender and then it fell to him, and McKennie finishes with a classy shot.
The first goal came from the head of Chris Pulisic.
His header was not so easy, and he had to fight his way to get in front of the Mex defender, and then came the header striking with precision. That is aggressivenes of a forward with a killer instinct. Some days before the big match, Ochoa taunted the United States, saying, “Mexico is the mirror in which the U.S.A. wants to see itself and wants to copy.” In other words, they better than us.
So, after Chris scored his header goal he ran to the sidelines and pulled up his jersey showing a t-shirt with the words, Man in the Mirror. According to scout reports, it were his buddies Timothy Yeah and DeAndre Yedlin who came up with the T-shirt idea based upon a 1988 song by the famous Michael Jackson, called Man in the Mirror.
So, the United States is lucky to win? and to be treated as dorks and clowns and a bunch of guys wishing to be like the “great” Mexico?, only fit to “mirror” its image after their team?
If you are a young person and knew little about the rivalry between the U.S. and Mexico, the barbs and insult exchanges are nothing new. Winning 3 in a row in 2021 is new. However, compared to some 15- 20 years ago—really is it almost 20?—when we had star players like McBride, Beasley, Reyna, Donavan, a goalie duo of Friedel and Keller, O’Brien, Stewart, Lewis, Mathis, Wolff, Agoos, Mastroeni, Pope, lighting fast Cobi Jones, and the guy whose last name I could never pronounce named Frankie who reminded me a lot of myself when I was young, who electrified the soccer world, these new generation of players are going in the right direction by accomplishing what they did, and are doing. Incidentally, our present coach Berhalter, [a high school teammate of Reyna at St. Benedict’s College Prep] was part of that fabulous era and was a mean defender. Technically, they are not assured advancement to the World Cup scheduled for next November, but brother, I’ve waited a dozen years to see it happen with a team that is lightning quick, that can score, have a stout defense with height, and when up against the wall, respond with tenacity and a never die attitude, as they did back in August in the Gold Cup. Once upon a time, European generals thought little on the skill of the fighting American during WW II. You may not like the analogy, but a World Cup is like a battlefield. You do not literally die, but at times there can be blood as an opponent will try to do everything to assure a victory.
Out of the ashes of the last World Cup which the United States did not even earn a berth to it, the time has come to go to the World Cup, to not only revell in the pageantry, music and fun, plus the showing off of skills. It is time to create a new chapter, a time when this nation can again celebrate the chance of advancing where no U.S. Team has dared to venture before. We have fluidity of passing, a spark to get the ball wide to Weah or Antonee Robinson on either wing, awesome speed of teammates to receive a diagonal to the space at the heart of the box in speed. Most of them also show an instinct of what to do next. Our weakness? Our Defensive Tactics.
Will the next 12 months bring something new and totally exciting? Christian Pulisic can be like Captain America, a leader and threat like in the movie but, this is not a Hollywood script. He has to stay healthy, not get injured or catch any dam colds. His defenders and midfielders must protect him just like as in the Avengers who rise up to give him help, They must work in unison as never before and rise to the challenges. Every team member can be a hero. But, remember, everyone else will be out to get you.