116street Soccer

Footballing from a lesser authority...

Location: New York, New York

Monday, June 25, 2007

(A Brief) Catharsis

It was about 5 PM yesterday, and I was standing outside, jumping up and down with a bunch of USA supporters while being videotaped for Univision, and I realized that this feeling of optimism was something I hadn't experienced since May 2006. Way back then, when I was writing "Know Your Yanks" blurbs and generally anticipating the coming surge of U.S. soccer supremacy, I could have sworn that DaMarcus Beasley was on his way to true stardom and that the USA was only one World Cup away from actual contention.
Since we all know what happened subsequently, I won't rehash, other than to point out the general cloud that has hung over all of U.S. fandom since. We didn't get Jurgen Klinsmann, we reached the limit of patience with Sunil Gulati, we endured the departure of Thierry Henry (oops, that's a different post). The thing about fandom, however, is that without hope, support is hopeless; this why Benny Feilhaber's thunderous volley that sunk Mexico (and kept the Gold Cup in its rightful place) elicited not just a cheer of celebration from USA fans, but also a feeling of cleansing.

The U.S. picked a fantastic occasion to play its best match thus far under Bob Bradley, and we were treated to the promise of a future of fast-paced, attacking football. For fans, younger players and a new ideology are usually the cure for what ails, and yet these aspects of the game can be so difficult to implement. This is why the Bradley era has been successful thus far; not necessarily due to results (we're winning an awful lot, but much of our competition has been substandard) but rather because the teaching aspect of the game has gone so well. The increasing confidence of our younger players is testament to Bradley's ability to implement a new philosophy, and while all is not perfect (Beasley continues to play inconsistently, we haven't seen the best of Clint Dempsey, and let's not even talk about the finishing), it feels terrific to have our hope in the National Team restored. Let's go into the Copa America not focusing on the negatives, but rather with the mindset that this young (young, young, young) American team has nothing to lose - and let's bring on Lee Nguyen!


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