America: Love It And Leave It

Y'know, there's nothing wrong with the US National Team that forced loyalty oaths wouldn't cure. If we had forced Ferdinando Rossi to change his name to Fred Ross at Ellis Island like we did back in the good old days, we hand Italy their asses yesterday. It's those Red agitators, I tell you.

I don't know if it's necessarily infallible as a way of telling loyalty, but the worse the English is on the player's official website, the less likely it is that the player in question is going to be wearing our beloved anthracite. Get a load of Rossi's biography, for crying out loud. Might as well have been Neven Subotic's site.

Not saying you can't learn anything about Rossi from his website. Although "Why'd you pick Italy over the US?" isn't addressed in specifics, there's enough to guess.

Well, fine. The family came to the US for a while, taught Meadow Soprano how to speak Italian, and went back home. Brooklyn Beckham probably doesn't think of himself as particularly American, either.

Look, if this family had no real connection to the United States, I don't think we can necessarily-

... know, if we're not going to kidnap and torture people like this, what's the point in even having a CIA?

What a freaking nightmare. I mean, the son of a bitch who broke McBride's face in the World Cup gets the winning goal, and he isn't even the main villain.

You know what's utterly, utterly lost in all this hatred? The United States should have tied the game, 2-2. Late second half, the Italian defender whose name escapes me climbs Donovan like Sir Edmund Hilary. If that's not a penalty, then Giuseppe Rossi learned everything he knew at the Red Bull Academy.*

Okay, so we wouldn't have scored from anywhere besides the penalty spot. That's pretty good against the champions of the world, with a man down. So we didn't look that good. Turns out the champions of the world are better than we are. Still, were it not for that penalty non-call, the US ties it up, and doesn't leave the kind of space on the defensive end to allow goal number three -

"Hey, wait a minute. Tim Howard made, what, three unreal, ridiculous saves? Even if we are playing whatifball instead of soccer, doesn't Italy get credit for those?", because Howard didn't make those saves because of referee assistance, or lack thereof.

Besides, what I'm doing here is pointing out the positive. Doesn't do anyone good to say "Wow, this could have been 6-1," because the US was a man down, and that pretty much overshadows negatives. More particularly, Tim Howard's performance in goal is a legitimate plus for the US. The Italy game may have had an ugly, misleading score, but it's still a game the Nats can build on.

"Dan, wasn't that true in 2006, and the US followed up their gutty performance with a debacle against Ghana?"

Well...yes. And yes, the talent differential between Brazil and the US makes Italy-US look like New England v. DC United. So it's at least as likely that Brazil will put up a touchdown and a field goal as the United States will get a 1998 Gold Cup result.

But it COULD happen. Tim Howard can do it. And is Kaka really better than Romario was?

"Yes, Dan, quite a lot better."

...boy, it's not easy cheering you guys up. I'm just happy that I didn't go on the Confed Cup blogger junket - the plastic horns would have made my head melt long before Clark's red card.

(Deserved, by the way. Speaking of history repeating itself. Yeah, the ref is gonna favor the big famous stars in a friendly, because the ref doesn't know this was the guy who stomped on Carlos Ruiz. I hear Kobe Bryant gets calls, too. At some point we gotta grow up and recognize our role in the scheme of things, and we don't get to hack guys down yet, no matter how much they dive. C'est la guerre. Hell, Zidane didn't get away with crap against Italy, did he?)

So, basically, while I'm hugely disappointed, I can't get to where Aaron is. I probably should, with all the importance I gave these couple of games. But I am certain we've learned more in one game so far than we have with Yet Another CONCACAF Roadie and Yet Another Gritty Home Win. The US is a really unpredictable team on neutral ground.

I'm not going to predict a win over Brazil, or even a draw - I'm saying I have no idea what will happen. Brazil has nothing to prove, the US has everything to prove, and at the very least the US doesn't play vastly superior opposition that often, so this will be a good opportunity.

Okay, they made Costa Rica LOOK vastly superior, but that's not the same thing. The United States will play well against good teams, bad against bad teams, disappoint when they shouldn't and surprise when they shouldn't. They can be either beautiful or unwatchable, in the same week. You think we can't beat Brazil? Not only can we beat Brazil, we could then turn around and lose to Egypt. No wonder Rossi didn't pick us - he probably couldn't stand the emotional roller coaster.

*Did anyone else hear Harkes say Rossi was a product of the Red Bulls academy? Like, where the hell did THAT come from?