Two men currently share the record for most World Series wins as a manager: Casey Stengel and Joe McCarthy.
No, not that one. That would have been a heck of a story: successful baseball manager runs for Senate, hunts Commies, and dies drunk.
Both McCarthy and Stengel are in the Baseball Hall of Fame, obviously, and both men were outstanding baseball minds.
Oh, by the way. McCarthy managed Ruth, Gehrig and DiMaggio; Stengel managed Mantle, Berra, Elston Howard and Whitey Ford.
Two people share the record for most World Cup wins as a coach: Vittorio Pozzo and Jill Ellis. And Ellis did it without Mussolini's help.
Although Ellis didn't do it without help, to say the very least.
The Jill Ellis era, as it will not be called, has come to an end. Does the United States win two World Cups in a row without Ellis? Maybe, but the situation needed someone willing to bench very famous and strong-willed players. The 2015 Cup is not won if Abby Wambach starts ahead of Carli Lloyd. Would the 2019 Cup have been won with Carli Lloyd starting? Maybe, but it wasn't like Megan Rapinoe didn't win the Golden Boot or anything.
Managing egos and motivating players is a murkily understood part of coaching, and apparently Ellis is one of the best. She may not get the credit she deserves, but then again, Chuck Daly got surprisingly little credit for the 1992 Olympic basketball team.
It's probably a no-win proposition for Jill's successor…well, except for all the winning that her successor will end up doing. Japan will get a boost for home field advantage next summer, sure, but how much did that help France this summer? I'd pick the US to win even if they hired Juergen Klinsmann.
I might even pick the US to win if they hired nobody, which as of this writing seems to be the plan.
I don't bring up the Dream Team in complete idleness – rather, I bring them up to start a pointlessly clickbaity hacky prisoner-of-the-momenty Sports Argument.
Is the 2019 team the greatest of all time?
It sounds blasphemous, but when you measure how they performed against their peers? I'd go with the 2019 team over 1999.
This year the US went to Europe and dispatched five European teams in a row. They might have faced stronger opponents twenty years ago. The US survived an own goal to beat Germany 3-2, but no one knew at the time that Germany wouldn't lose another World Cup game for eight years. China was a match for the United States in 1999, but people forget just how good China was that year. In the semifinal match, Sun Wen's Steel Roses beat Norway 5-0. Norway were the defending world champions. Norway would win the gold medal in Sydney the next summer. China brushed them aside.
This year, of course, the United States turned out the hosts convincingly. Talk about giving away your pay-per-view main event, by the way. Whoever bracketed the tournament so that there was a possibility of France meeting the United States before the semifinal needs to question their life choices. Okay, fine, the US probably shouldn't have spent over an hour tied with Spain. The closest call was against England, who may very well be upset that their second goal would not have been overturned four years ago. Then again, nobody told England to botch a penalty.
But the result was always the same Every US game this tournament seemed to end the same way – anywhere from five to ten minutes of Tobin Heath taking the ball to the far corner. If you measure the greatness of a team by how they performed against their peers, the decision is pretty easy.
An argument for the greatness of the 2019 team is almost an argument against Ellis, but what about the attacking depth. It's one thing to be able to make adjustments, it's another to send in another couple of aircraft carriers. Lloyd was a backup, Press was a backup to the backup, Dunn was in the wrong position. These are players who will either get Hall of Fame consideration or Hall of Fame jackets. If anyone could have shut out the 2019 team, it would have been Lilly, Foudy and Rampone, but that's a sizeable if.
Let us now take time to praise Alyssa Naeher, who earned her spot in the pantheon this tournament. For all I know Ashlyn Harris also would have stopped England in their tracks, but going into this tournament we all wondered, "How would the United States replace Hope Solo?" And the answer turned out to be, "Three years ago."
The nice thing about the Olympics is how conveniently it will prove or disprove any lingering assumptions we have. Can child’s drawing of a tree coach the United States and win? Here's our chance to find out. And here's another weird stat for you. The United States is the only team to win a World Cup and Olympic gold consecutively. But nobody has won the gold medal in the Olympics the year after winning a World Cup. You'd think that would be easier to accomplish, but no team has done it yet.
That’s a problem for next year. I just want to take some more time to appreciate that we may have just seen the best women’s soccer team ever.
So, that was my very basic World Cup take, and it was about here I was going to segue with my usual grace and elegance into Rapinoe and her skill at grabbing the spotlight both on and off the field. Except in the past month, thanks partially to the World Cup win and partially to Major League Soccer apparently operating under a series of calamitous head wounds, the subject of politics in American soccer has crashed into mainstream American culture. Tell Warren Zevon he can rest easy. The lawyers, guns and money have arrived. Every time I tried to update this, something else either inspiring or stupid or hilarious or all three at once crashed through the wall like Wild Turkey Man.
No, as in, a giant smiling pitcher of bourbon, not a guy bitten by a radioactive – you know what, let’s move on.
I can give you a boring laundry list of what barely deserve to be called “opinions,” but for a lot of you this is old news. If you’re reading this, you’ve given thought to how much the US women’s national team should be paid. I think both senior national teams should form a single union, and be ready to withhold labor until their goals are met. I also think we should come up with automobiles that run on water and puts out cuddles as exhaust.
I don't think there's a fair way to legislate wages by government action. If this were the pre-MLS 1990's, when most of the men's national team were contracted to the US Soccer Federation as opposed to a club, the solution would be equal pay, next topic. Same work, same pay.
Once NWSL becomes a self-sustaining enterprise, or at least stops paying its players in Pepsi Points, this will again become an easier issue. The national team won't be the main source of income for the women, and equal pay will again be something theoretically attainable.
Right now, the USSF has to financially support the women's team, otherwise the player pool is reduced to those willing to put up with the hardships of semi-pro athletic career. We already know what that sort of national team looks like - Brazil has had something like two of the top six or seven players ever (Marta and Sissi), and they have won neither Women's World Cup nor Olympic gold. You need a middle class in soccer, as you do in democracy. (What we do when the state withers away under the dictatorship of the proletariat is a problem for the future. The very near future - workers of the world unite etc. etc.)
But this shouldn't be a permanent state of affairs. So it's foolish to ask for legislation or regulation in this environment.
Also as of this writing, Major League Soccer has embroiled itself in a controversy over flags and banners that almost any idiot could have avoided. The Iron Front - whose success in defeating the triple threats of Franz Von Papen, Ernst Thaelmann and Adolf Hitler is, to put it delicately, a matter of historical record - has decades later managed to offend someone high up in Major League Soccer, presumably an owner or two. However you feel about antifa or Uncle Fa, this silliness should never have come to the point where entire sections empty out during games, and it is entirely one billion percent the league's fault.
Literally the only people who can take even modest comfort in this is the Major League Soccer Players Association, who have now learned that at least one club's ownership group is so dumb they have to be watered once a week. Probably at least two, since even MLS wouldn't listen to Anthony Precourt's opinions at this point.
Most of these issues are ongoing, sadly. Shame to end on a note of unresolved drama.
I'd like to sincerely thank BigSoccer for all the patience and masochism they have shown over the past OH MY GOD THIRTEEN YEARS. Thank you especially to Jesse Hertzberg for putting up with me for so long, and his successor Andy Robinowitz (I don't know if he craves anonymity or not; people associated with me usually do for some reason). Let's see how quickly I get red-carded on the message boards!