Oh, I see how it is. A couple of wins, and all of a sudden you all ain't so sure about making a coaching change? Well, not me! When I make a decision, I stick with it!
Aside from the Gold Cup, what has Bradley won since 2000? Not a damn thing. Let's just ease him out while he's in a good mood, have Mike Sorber coach the final on an interim basis, and then start the job search for a REAL coach. In case you all have forgotten, the goal isn't to win MEANINGLESS FRIENDLIES. It's to WIN WHEN IT COUNTS IN SOUTH AFRICA.
Oh, and Michael? Michael Bradley? Yeah, after running your mouth - YOU COULDN'T EVEN FINISH THE GAME. NOW who's laughing? Huh? Huh?
There's a concept I like to call "stupid-right." It's a variation on the blind squirrel finding a nut phenomenon. Except the blind squirrel actually had to put some effort into the whole business. The stupid-right fan is the sort that just homers away for their favorite team (Italy, the Steelers, Roman Catholicism, whatever) and dances a little victory jig if and when their horse comes in.
You can see where I'm going with this. ANYONE who predicted the US was gonna shut out Spain? Congratulations on being stupid-right.
Don't give me that! You didn't see this coming. You didn't see US 3-Portugal 2 coming, you didn't see third place in Copa America coming in 1995, and if you had been alive back then you wouldn't have seen US 1-England 0 coming either. So don't pretend that yesterday you weren't as shocked as Ted Bundy.
Happy? How can I be happy at a time like this? What about poor Jamie Trecker? What about Grahame L. Jones? What about Jim Rome? Will no one think of Jim Rome?
And what about Eurosnobs? Have you no regard for what they're going through? If they want to see the best player in the Confederations Cup? They're going to have to watch Los Angeles Galaxy games! They're in HELL right now!
Well, if no one else is willing to say it, I will. Anything less than a win in the final, and the US performance in this tournament will be considered an abject failure.
(I know. But, look, apparently the guys need negative criticism in order to play well. It's a dirty job, but someone's gotta do it. I'm just worried about how to keep them motivated if they DO win the final. "Hey, Landon. Bianca and I were snuggling together watching you play, and you know - meh. I thought you were okay, not great. She thought you weren't really trying. Then she made me breakfast. Good luck against Mexico."
Or "Hey! Michael Bradley! Your real father is Bora Milutinovic!")
The game itself? Holy effin' shit! Did you see that? I mean, holy effin shit!
Let's PowerPoint some of the highlights.
1. So much for the goalkeeper controversy.
Having said that, this doesn't make the medal stand in great goalkeeper performances in US soccer history. The top three are still, in whatever order, Meola against England in 1993, Keller against Brazil in 1998, and Borghi against England in 1950 (I didn't see that last one, but I read the book and saw the horrible movie).
That's actually a wonderful thing. Sure, Torres and Villa had chances, but it wasn't anything like the freaking barrage that those other keepers had to go through. Howard might have been up to the task had the field players forced him to, but looking at the game, this should end the discussions of whether we've improved over the years - the US team itself has progressed parsecs from those days. And this was Spain at very nearly 100% - those England and Brazil teams were shells of their top form, loath we were to admit at the time.
Yeah, guys like Rico Clark had to make the occasional swooping block. Yeah, occasionally, Spector or Gooch or Bocanegra were beaten. There's a word for players who only occasionally get beaten by guys like Xavi. Multimillionaires.
2. Okay, so Fabregas had only a slightly better game against the US than Stanley Matthews. It's not like the rest of the team were lemons. Okay, so the first goal was a teeny bit lucky. If Spain hadn't conspired to keep Altidore from getting playing time, he would have had a more confident shot, and would have scored anyway.
3. Speaking of Jozy. That little deflection probably changed the course of his career. Maybe he needed another jolt of confidence, maybe he didn't. But there's something about scoring the winning goal against the #1 team in the world at the age of 19 that should provide a boost at the workplace. The sky might not be the limit for Altidore, but he might bump his head on a cloud or two.
4. I like Landon Donovan.
5. Michael...Michael....darn. What's his last name again? Yeah, he was robbed by the ref. But more importantly, he was playing very well before then. Must be the nepotism he gets at Moenchengladbach. But Clint Dempsey is also is in a position to demand satisfaction from his critics. We'll just chalk up his WCQ performance to a slump, I suppose, because he's been insane this week.
6. Gotta feel for Brazil. Not only do they have a no-win game today, the final is also a no-win situation. They will get little if any credit for beating South Africa, less for beating the United States. That's two consecutive games with highly motivated teams, with nothing on the line except, what, the FIFA Coca-Cola rankings? This is a program that sends its U-23s to Copa America when it can get away with it (and it can), and now they have to deal with idiots like us?
7. Boy, I hope Sunil's bribe budget holds out. We do have next year to think about, you know.
8. I'm sure you've noticed this, but the mainstream sports media came out of NOWHERE on this one. I thought was I way out on a limb when I said the Confederations Cup could be a big positive for the US - yeah, okay, I was stupid-right.
But I was thinking of the team's self-confidence. It literally never occurred to me that there would be positive publicity outside our little circle of fans. It's a World Cup boost a year early, in the teeth of a recession. And while most of this week's heroes play for clubs located inconveniently for MLS sales departments, teams besides LA and Houston can claim they are fielding tomorrow's stars today. (Although I dunno really how Red Bull spins it. "Hey, if we still had Michael Bradley and Altidore? We'd probably be a lot better! Maybe one of these mugs will get good all of a sudden, who knows?")
Even the freaking All-Star Game got sexy all of a sudden, thanks to Everton's keeper. Assuming he doesn't sign that Globetrotters contract.
9. Giuseppe Rossi would sit for Charlie Davies.