Bash the USSF for the right reasons

I hate to reuse jokes,* but I think the US Soccer Federation and its critics should adopt my modified Serenity Prayer.

First, let me endorse Aaron's takedown of The Big Lead's extended poison pen letter to the USSF. But it isn't just Duffy, or Trecker, or a minority of your fellow posters. For some reason, or series of reasons, people just have a problem with the USSF.

Take Bruce at DuNord, who is anything but a keyboard-pounding, wild-eyed Internet dumbass. Even he's asking whether there should be a fan representative on the US World Cup bid committee.

In fact, it seems to be spreading throughout soccer. Drew Carey, the other week, reiterated his commitment to stake Adrian Hanauer's job to the whims of the fans - this, right after their first trophy as an MLS team. Simon Kuper - yes, I am looking forward to his book - put forth the idea that teams would be better off putting lineups to fan votes, an idea that Pitch Invasion took down less fiercely than it deserved.

There's a serious fallacy going around about the wisdom of crowds. Yes, the "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" lifeline was almost always reliable, but that was because there wasn't one person with significantly more information than every other person in the room. This is the main problem I have with knee-jerk Bob Bradley criticism.

Bradley has a job that's very simple to describe. It's harder to do, of course, but the description is simplicity itself. Win enough games to qualify for SA 2010, then win a plurality of the games there.

So far - mission proceeding as planned. We're not there every day in camp, we don't put the time in to see the game film, we don't put the hours and miles in scouting. We don't know as much as Bradley does. And we don't know that someone else will do better than Bradley, because so far the results say that someone else couldn't do much better.

Maybe if we were talking about a club - a real club, not one of these joke MLS franchises that no real soccer fan follows - one that could, y'know, spend money on players. What is Bradley, or any other coach, supposed to do with the US talent pool? They test for steroids, y'know.

It's been pointed out to me - by Kenn, ElJefe, and many others - that how we do in the World Cup is dependent on what happens in the World Cup Draw. I resist the harsh truth of this, because a competitor for the title of best team in the world should be above such shickenchit as moping over the schedule, and because the United States in particular serves up some wacky-ass results. Like, to pick an example entirely at random, tying the eventual world champion in one of its only three games of World Cup 2006.**

But this particular harsh truth simply underscores the pointlessness of complaining about the coach. Unless we think we will get an easy draw, and that Bob Bradley would blow it. It's far more likely that we'll get yet another painful draw, and have to rely on luck and trickery to get to the second round. Remember, the next time the United States wins its third game of the World Cup will be the first time.

Sunil Gulati right now has an even simpler job, at least to describe. Land either the 2018 or 2022 World Cup. Or both. Hell, why not. Non-stop soccermania at the end of the next decade.

But that's it. That's what he will be graded on.

Which sort of makes me sad whenever I read Bill's ongoing takedown of Jack Warner and Chuck Blazer. Because we need those guys. I don't see any way around it.

Well, we can give up our World Cup bid(s), and embark on a moral crusade to clean up the sport. Selfishly, as a fan, I'm not ready to advocate this. And I'm not clever enough to suggest another route. I'm not sure that the USSF and the FMF have enough stroke between them to overthrow Warner and his Caribbean power base. Boy, how many endeavors of human activity does the phrase "Caribbean power base" come up? I mean, unless you're Jean Lafitte or Viv Richards.

So the answer to Bruce's question about whether we deserve a voice on the bid committee - no. It's going to be a very ugly, sordid, hateful business. Lives will be destroyed. Reputations will be ruined. How is some freaking fan going to help?

It's bad enough that the US Soccer Federation is shot through with youth administrators and and AYSO minions and such. Yes, fans deserve a voice on the World Cup bid more than the youth and adult amateur portions of the USSF.

But the answer is to lock all three out and keep them far away. You know that line about the law being like sausage - you shouldn't look at either being made? We're bidding for a big plate of sausage - the only people who should be on the bid committee are people good at killing pigs. Or cows. Chickens, maybe. Hey, I had some really good chicken sausage the other week at a tailgate.

Great - not only did I just murder that metaphor, now I'm hungry as well.

In any case, if we are going to quarrel with Gulati and Bradley, at least let's pick on something that's actually fair to criticize them for.

This is why The Big Lead's diatribes were so unintentionally funny. Ordinarily, I'd quietly applaud someone willing to take on the pointless, thankless task of sticking up for Jamie Trecker, but the hard truth is that it's not the US Media Federation.

Full disclosure. I too have been denied USSF credentials after once being able to receive them. I would go into the story in more detail, except, well, I think that's pretty much the entire story. They're more popular, they want to make room for real reporters, I'm not one, QED.

Was a time when they not only gave me a pass, they wrote one up for my dad when I brought him to the game. But was a time when Madonna was sexy and I was a brunette. Or was that vice versa? So long ago.

I think BigSoccer reaches enough people to justify a media credential, but I can definitely see me in particular being awarded the Order of the Middle Finger. You can say the same about Fox Soccer and Jamie Trecker. The whole point of being Jamie Trecker is to write like you don't care if you get a press pass or not.

Now, in fairness, if the USSF were to dump everyone who ever said a critical word about them, it would be a very empty room. But if the Fed wants to make room for beat reporters ahead of the bloviati - sucks for me, sucks for Jamie. The sport will survive.

Yeah, the change rankled. I think I said something like "Um, my Hall of Fame vote counts, does yours?"

Speaking of the Hall of Fame...lo and behold, something for which we can easily criticize the USSF. I'm an unusually sympathetic Oneonta supporter, but I don't see how the Fed could or should allow the Soccer Hall of Fame to close.

This has been enough of a slow-motion train wreck that it's a little surprising the Fed wouldn't have stepped in at some point during the past several months. It's an embarrassment that the people whose freaking job description is to promote the game couldn't take the time to secure the foundation that promotes the game.

"But it's not profitable." Not now, it isn't. Down the road, as the sport grows in popularity, it might be. Certainly as more famous players are inducted (it's not polite to say this, but since Alexi Lalas and Mia Hamm, there hasn't been much star power on Induction Weekend), it will gain attention again. As more exhibits from the nineties and the naughties are added, as the kids today grow in the future to become nostalgic fans - well, if we're not careful, they'll see a Hall that tells them the game started when Beckham arrived.

This might just all be a Machiavellian attempt to get the Hall moved somewhere else, on a more beaten path. If so, it's achieved the goal of poisoning the locals against it.

So yeah, maybe in a year or two, we'll have cities vying for the honor of hosting the "new" Soccer Hall of Fame. Keep in mind, though, that's my assumption of foresight and planning being put into this. The other option - that the USSF is AWOL while the Soccer Hall sinks - is as depressing as it is credible.

"Dan, they're more likely to fire Bob Bradley than sink perfectly good money into Oneonta at this point just for the sake of keeping the status quo."

Yes, but it's also about safeguarding and preserving the Hall's collection of trophies and records and photographs and all of the things that can be lost or sacrificed during a tumult. Think of all the things that have already been lost.

"Dan, the point is, you're on people's cases for criticizing the Fed about things everyone knows they have no intention of changing, and in the very same post you're criticizing the Fed for something you know very well they won't change. Isn't that both stupid and hypocritical?"

Okay, but, I'd like at least to hear them say they have some intention of making sure the Hall's exhibits aren't scattered to the winds, is all.


**Just typing that out, I wondered how often it's happened that a team took points off the tournament's eventual winner but neglected to show up for that tournament's second round. Cameroon, in 1982, tied Italy before missing the second round on goal differential. But Wikipedia tells me that a wrongly disallowed Roger Milla goal should have sent Cameroon through at Italy's expense. And Italy wouldn't have been there to beat West Germany, who themselves cheated to get to the second round before their keeper committed GBH on Patrick Battiston. Did the 1982 tournament reek, or did it reek?