Playing Scared

Discussion in 'USA Men' started by NietzscheIsDead, Sep 9, 2019.

  1. NietzscheIsDead

    United States
    May 31, 2019
    "We still play with fear against them, and that is what I can't really live with. That needs to change,"

    "We have to go and play like we're good enough to be out there, be confident and play without thinking twice about it. That's how it needs to be, and that's just not where we're at right now."


    - Christian Pulisic after the 3-0 loss to Mexico

    https://www.90min.com/posts/6450689...ared-usmnt-performance-after-defeat-to-mexico

    The USMNT has been a different animal in recent generations. In previous generations, fear was not a problem...talent and experience was the problem. The 1990 World Cup squad may have lacked talent, but they were not afraid. The same goes for the 1994 squad, etc., all the way through generations of guys like Balboa, Ramos, Pope, Sanneh, Wynalda, Hejduk, Cobi Jones, Demarcus Beasley, and of course Donovan and Dempsey. They were not afraid. They may have been limited, but they were in matches to win them, no matter who they played.

    Today's USMNT just can't seem to figure out how not to be afraid of teams who play to win. The masculine culture of American soccer seems to have been replaced by an "everyone is better than us" mentality. It's the same mentality that you see where fans are essentially begging to cap dual nationals and to chase after people. There's no confidence in what is here, no appreciation of American culture and contributions, and no belief in our own people.

    When Mexico plays, they play with national pride. They play for their people. They play to humiliate the Americans. How does the current USMNT respond? By not digging in, by allowing themselves to be pushed around, and by allowing a less-talented team to dictate physicality on the field. Yes, the USMNT is MORE TALENTED than that Mexico squad. On paper, the US should be piling up Dos-a-Cero's. The difference is in the minds of the players. Mexico believes, the US doesn't. Mexico wants the battle, the US doesn't. Mexico wants to win no matter what, the US wants to win only when its easy.

    There is a big youth element to that lack of belief. However, there should also be a bit of excessive belief by some of these young players. I just don't see it.

    Personally, I think it's a cultural thing. US players grow up hearing about how awful the United States is and how much better everyone else is. Mexican players grow up knowing exactly who they are and what is expected of them in the national team...they're expected to be a source of pride for the nation. US players are just trying not to get caught up in sociopolitical drama. Do they even have an idea of who they represent and why they represent them? Do they have a sense of pride for the fight? Do they have the sense of pride that led Demarcus Beasley to continually challenge himself in his career and to execute and get results with the national team? Do they have the pride that Oguchi Onyewu exhibited against Spain, Mexico and so many others when he did what it took to preserve results and intimidate those who tried to intimidate him?

    Where is the pride that overshadows reticence? Where is the belief that overshadows fear?
     
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  2. TimB4Last

    TimB4Last Member+

    May 5, 2006
    Dystopia
    I don't know and I'm afraid to find out.
     
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  3. honest trade

    honest trade Member

    Aug 15, 2010
    Los Angeles
    Club:
    Los Angeles Galaxy
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Makes you miss/appreciate Jermaine Jones.

    My feeling is the problem is probably a combination of youth, lack of leadership, lack of faith in coaching staff and overall direction of program, confusion or distrust regarding tactics and positioning and no confidence after missing the World Cup.
     
  4. NietzscheIsDead

    United States
    May 31, 2019
    Jones' goal against Portugal in the World Cup epitomizes the kind of audacious belief needed to perform at high levels in this, the most popular sport on the planet.
     
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  5. Pegasus

    Pegasus Member+

    Apr 20, 1999
    Club:
    FC Dallas
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I don't think U23 on down the teams are afraid of Mexico because they ate beating them at all of those levels and doing it playing exciting attacking soccer. Those teams are doing so good that Mexico is trying to poach multiple players in those age groups that grew up playing here. A simple fix in that last game would have been Pomykal for Trapp with Morales to the 6. Has anyone ever seen Pomykal play scared? He also would have been a huge relief valve on possession and would have gotten fouled multiple times allowing the team to regroup. I'll be as happy as anyone when players have to earn starting roles by playing great for their club team for an extended period but right now I'd rather play some inexperienced but much better players even though they haven't earned it as much as possible. Play them now so when it counts the team is a well oiled machine. Very interested in the lineup against Uruguay. Will GB still start those players literally none of us like or will he add a few more young ones we are clamoring for?
     
  6. NietzscheIsDead

    United States
    May 31, 2019
    I would like to see Paxton play the 6 as well.

    Adams is another player who is not afraid.

    I'd like to see this some time:

    Adams-----------------McKennie
    --------------Pomykal----------------
     
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  7. manq360

    manq360 Member

    Jun 17, 2009
    Portland, OR
    Club:
    Portland Timbers
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    It may not be so much that the players are playing scared, but that the coach is. GB cannot be so dense that he is not aware that he is over his head. This is one of the reasons that he is holding on to Trapp and Zardes...he is comfortable with them. Also one of the main reasons that he wants Bradley in his games, and Jozy to a lesser extent. He, IMHO, is desperately trying to hold on to the familiar.

    I think the current young players are not scared as much as confused and disappointed. I do think they really want to play well and show dedication, but see some of the inequities in player selection and playing positions. This leads to more of a casual approach to their play. Can this be corrected? You tell me.
     
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  8. UncagedGorilla

    Sep 22, 2009
    Tulsa
    Club:
    FC Barcelona
    Nat'l Team:
    American Samoa
    I think the players are scared and the coach is too. It's the rich club/suburban soccer effect which has gotten worse over the years. More players than ever in MLS came from those type of clubs where money matters. That's not to say you can't have a competitive edge coming through that system, FC Dallas has certainly figured it out with dudes like McKennie and Pomykal, even Cannon that never back down from a challenge. But the US soccer subculture is weak-minded and therefore it takes a special mindset like McKennie and Pom or a parent(s) that understands the realities of competing at a high level like Pulisic to overcome it early enough to matter.

    As you said, the youth is much more competitive and seems to hate losing all while being more technically capable. I think part of that is the DA is cheaper to play but let's be honest, to get onto a DA team, you have to be very special or they will just take the kid that was on that club's A team from the year before paying $10,000/year.

    That last paragraph you wrote is key. It needs to feel like a meritocracy to get the best out of your players no matter what level you are at. It already doesn't to an extent given how Egg got the job but he can overcome that by giving players a fair shake. They know who's better. It's like a football team with a quarterback controversy. The players all know who is best and if you pick the wrong one, you lose a lot of credibility. Trapp, Bradley, Lovitz, and Zardes are absolutely costing Egg in the locker room. It can be corrected but will take some real soul-searching by Gregg in short order.
     
  9. nobody

    nobody Member+

    Jun 20, 2000
    I don't buy the idea that the kids are fearless because they has success against Mexico youth teams. Most young kids coming up are at least a bit nervous or scared in general when they suddenly have to face a grizzled 29 year old man willing to break their legs if need be as opposed to another group of teenagers learning the game. No, they're not afraid of Mexican players their own age, but that's not who they are facing.
     
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  10. nobody

    nobody Member+

    Jun 20, 2000
    Also, I like Pulisic and he's obviously our best hope right now, but I'm still waiting for him to get anything on the scoresheet against Mexico. He wants to take his teammates to task, he needs to do more than dribble four guys to no effect a couple times per game. Pretty sure he's played several games against Mexico at this point and has no goals, no assists and no wins against them.
     
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  11. NietzscheIsDead

    United States
    May 31, 2019
    Absolutely. Words mean nothing.

    I posted another thread on leadership awhile back that touched on that topic. You can't live your life on paper and in words and then when the lights come on you shy away.

    Leadership comes from making things happen.

    Dip that oar in the water and drive the kayak.
     
  12. madvillain

    madvillain Member+

    Aug 28, 2011
    Club:
    Brooklyn Knights
    He's on an island out there. There's no way I can blame him for anything. Him taking on half their team is often the only dangerous attacking the US can produce.

    This fish is rotting from the head down. Starts with the US Federation and Egg and permeates down to the last guy on the squad.

    We do miss vets like Jermaine and even Beckerman that had had success and could bring a veteran presence (and a good tactical foul) but it's on the coach to find new leaders.

    It's just a complete shit show in US Soccer and it's been that way going on 6 years now. Ever since Jurgen was brought back for the 2nd cycle. We are in deep shit, Pulisic is the least of our worries, against Mex or anybody else.
     
  13. Eleven Bravo

    Eleven Bravo Member+

    Atlanta United
    United States
    Jul 3, 2004
    SC
    Club:
    Atlanta Silverbacks
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Believe it or not, I do believe the cultural aspect is a huge contributor to the downfall of the team. Masculinity is so demonized in current society that it is considered “bad” to be competitive, assertive, and strong willed. And it is considered “good” to be passive, permissive, and non-violent in confrontation. Truthfully, we’ve turned into a nation of sissies in a very short period of time. This point is proven by the fact that men have drastically lower testosterone than previous generations. It’s actually quite sad. And I’m quite worried about the longevity of the nation.

    As General Chesty Puller said it, “our country won’t go on forever if we stay as soft as we are now. There won’t be an America because some foreign soldiery will invade us and breed a hardier race.”

    That foreboding seems like its coming true.

    Nonetheless, this shows in our USMNT performances where our team plays with a lack of heart and grit.
     
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  14. madvillain

    madvillain Member+

    Aug 28, 2011
    Club:
    Brooklyn Knights
    #14 madvillain, Sep 9, 2019
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 10, 2019
    Well I agree with all of that except pro athletes have plenty of T popping through their vanes, including our USMNT.

    There doesn't seem to be a "masculinity problem" for the Dutch or English, for example. And Mexico [problematic stereotype of Mexicans deleted by moderator] They don't seem to have a problem.

    Find better players and find a ********ing coach with a clue. We are less than the sum of our parts until they find a coach.
     
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  15. TimB4Last

    TimB4Last Member+

    May 5, 2006
    Dystopia
    It sounds as though I'm in the minority here, but I applaud Coach Berhalter for initiating every practice with 20 minutes of mindfulness training. It's working wonders!
     
  16. nowherenova

    nowherenova Member+

    Jul 20, 2003
    Formerly Terminus
    I'm in fear of how much worse things are going to get...
     
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  17. NietzscheIsDead

    United States
    May 31, 2019
    I may be wrong, but I get the feeling like this USMNT is representative of its generation and their whole goal in performance is not to offend the other team because the other team has higher victim status.

    We wouldn't dare oppress the sad millionaires from Mexico by elbowing them off the ball, hitting them hard enough in the tackle that they start looking over their shoulders, and wiping the floor with them.

    We fear oppressing teams through soccer imperialism even though we are soccer third world right now.

    I find the "reticent navel-gazing soccer oppressor" role to be completely unwatchable as a fan and person who they represent when they put that uniform on.
     
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  18. puttputtfc

    puttputtfc Member+

    Sep 7, 1999
    [​IMG]

    This man was not afraid of Mexico.
     
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  19. NietzscheIsDead

    United States
    May 31, 2019
    Not a speck of fear in those eyes.

    American bravery. It needs to come back.
     
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  20. An Unpaved Road

    An Unpaved Road Member+

    Mar 22, 2006
    Club:
    --other--
    I've often theorized it's not so much fear as that "us against the world" component not being what it once was in the entire U.S. soccer landscape. Maybe we've grown just enough for some complacency to replace day to day desperation.

    Or maybe the opponents have just gotten better.
     
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  21. um_chili

    um_chili Member+

    Jun 3, 2002
    Losanjealous
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I agree with the OP wholeheartedly except for this sentence. There was nothing gendered about our attitude before. We were confident, and confidence does not inhere in people due to their gender orientation. It pisses me off that I have to even write that sentence. I think the qualities we used to possess in the past that made us better than the sum of our parts were scrappiness, bravery, bravado, pride--and we've all seen both men and women who have and who lack these qualities.

    And now if only there were a convenient example to illustrate my point. Say, a female counterpart to the MNT who play with all the courage and confidence the MNT so evidently lacks....
     
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  22. nowherenova

    nowherenova Member+

    Jul 20, 2003
    Formerly Terminus
    The competitive environments in which the USMNT and USWNT participate are completely different.
     
  23. NietzscheIsDead

    United States
    May 31, 2019
    Masculinity is tied directly to the presence of testosterone, which is also tied physiologically to competition and aggression. Competition and aggression are brutal, unforgiving things. We are afraid of those things.
     
  24. um_chili

    um_chili Member+

    Jun 3, 2002
    Losanjealous
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Speak for yourself Holmes. I'm not afraid of those things at all. And a decent high school biology student could expose the inanity of a statement like "masculinity is tied to the presence of testosterone." One is a social construct with no internal coherence or definition; the other is a hormone produced by all humans. The latter is something real in the world; the former is an amorphous concept. Reminds me of all the neo-supremacist horseshit that invokes biological determinism to assert the "superiority" of one race or another.

    I think it's pretty self-evident that you're making a terrible argument rooted more in weird desires to believe in magical essentialism than anything objectively true. But the worst part of it is that you don't need this terrible argument to make your point. Call it passion, confidence, zeal, drive or whatever, the MNT had it and now they lack it. Dressing it up in the language of gendered determinism detracts from the force of the point you're making. Better to just admit the mistake and move on.
     
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  25. TimB4Last

    TimB4Last Member+

    May 5, 2006
    Dystopia
    How do you know he's not right and you're just too emasculated to see it?
     
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