116street Soccer

Footballing from a lesser authority...

Location: New York, New York

Monday, February 04, 2008

Rocky 8

And so it is that we return for what I suppose has become our annual February dance with Mexico, a game that would be so much more interesting had they scheduled it just a few days prior. The chance to witness the first significant merging of national politics with the rise of soccer in our country would have been an amazing sight, with presidential campaigns scrambling to pander to the millions of captive Latino viewers glued to Univision for a USA-Mexico matchup ahead of Super Tuesday. Alas, it was not meant to be.

What we are left with is USA vs. Mexico 2008, a match long on emotion but short on significance, symbolic or otherwise. Yes, we always beat them on our own soil, yes, Landon Donovan should never go down there without proper security, and yes, a Mexico player will likely try something dirty before the match is done. I will watch the game, cheer on the USA, yell obscenities at whoever, and will learn absolutely nothing about the state of US Soccer. Wake me up when we start playing friendlies down there; then we might actually find out something about our team.

The question that is never answered by these Mexico friendlies is the one that asks, how good is our team anyway? We have Freddy Adu performing reasonably well at Benfica, Michael Bradley ripping $#!+ up at Heerenveen, and DaMarcus Beasley having a decent season pre-injury at Rangers. We also have a good portion of our roster battling relegation in the Premiership, or struggling for playing time elsewhere in Europe. Are US players as good as we like to think they are (or hope they will become)? We have taken some good steps in the past year or so, increasing the difficulty of our opposition and (finally) attempting to downplay the significance of our results. At this time last year, we were riding very high after beating Mexico. Needless to say, we didn't end the year on such a high note, although that's not necessarily a bad thing. A lack of complacency could take US Soccer further in the long run. This year, let's resist the urge to get too excited about this matchup, and see it for what it is: another sequel in a thinning storyline.


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