Legions of Mexico fans the world over are reportedly delirious with joy this morning after the monumental beatdown El Tri laid on China (China???) in Seattle last night, thoroughly humiliating the Red Menace by a score of 1-0.
A crowd of 56,000+ screaming Mexico fans - proving once again that S.U.M. could stage a Mexican national Team game in Skagway and still make a fortune - LAUNCHED NEW MEXICO HEAD COACH JESUS RAMIREZ' CAREER with a bang, defeating the widely feared 82nd ranked team in the world.
(I seem to be channeling Dan Loney here. Sorry. Plus, the division of labor requires me to leave offending our neighbors to the South to TenShirt, while I concentrate on alienating Canadians. If I could only work ManU into this discussion I could step on Buff's toes too, thus hitting the trifecta)
For Ramirez, life is simple: win and they'll love you, lose and you might want to consider changing your name.
New US Women's Coach Pia Sundhage doesn't have to worry quite so much about walking the strees at night, but nothing short of an Olympic gold medal is likely to satisfy either US fans or - more importantly - Sunil Gulati, who has her on a one-year contract or, in plainer language, a very short leash.
The former Boston Breakers Manager and WUSA Coach of the Year - who also, coincidentally, was the Assistant Coach of the China women's team during the 2007 World Cup - successfully (some would say brilliantly) qualified the US for Beijing and, in passing, won the CONCACAF Qualifying Tournament.
She's done this by getting the team mentally past the Hope Solo melodrama and tactically past the bang-it-upfield, "we're bigger and stronger than you" style which Greg Ryan had installed.
Sundhage prefers that the team play soccer, a somewhat radical thought to a US team used to physically dominating their opponents until they ran into a Brazil side which - not coincidentally - actually played soccer which - with Solo or Scurry or Mrs. Butterworth in the goal - the US was just not prepared for.
"(Sundhage) instituted a zonal defense system, restructured the midfield with an eye to possession and diversified the attack. She has worked tirelessly teaching players to dictate the tempo of a game, to feel its rhythm, to detect its nuances, to pick their spots when probing the defense instead of blindly banging the ball ahead and relying on raw athleticism....
(Sounds suspiciously like soccer to me)
“We are playing a totally new and exciting brand of soccer,” co-captain Kate Markgraf says, “which makes us so happy every time we step on the field.”
All of which is to say that, happy talk aside, Sundhage, like Ramirez, has a pretty demanding audience and a pretty simple task: just win. Neither one of them will keep their job for long otherwise.