— Midhat Ali Zaidi (@MidhatZ) June 12, 2014
Honestly, is there a prissier shower of whining jackanapes in world football than the oh-so-wearisomely precious types who attach themselves to Team USA’s fortunes? No, there is not. … They want to be respected even as they whine that the system is rigged against them. A referee’s mistake? Obvious anti-American bias! A tougher draw than some teams have received? More anti-Americanism! FIFA, you see, are scared of what might happen if the Yanks ever get too successful. So they won’t let it happen. Because, obviously. FIFA no like the money.
Nico Hines complains that Americans don’t understand how to follow the game properly:
Americans’ obsession with viewing sports through the prism of individual records is ruining their enjoyment of the world’s favorite game. It doesn’t matter who has the highest shot conversion ratio; these players aren’t trying to win themselves a berth in the All Star team, or a place in the Hall of Fame. The only thing that counts is the team: Did they win?
Just look at the captain that holds the trophy aloft at the end of the tournament. As Brazil celebrated in 1970, it wasn’t Pele, the greatest goal scorer of all time, who collected the World Cup trophy, it was his harder-working, less well-known colleague Carlos Alberto, a defender. If the sport was ruled by U.S. sports fans, perhaps Alberto would have boasted the most sacks or rebounds or something, but nobody was counting his tackles, headers or interceptions. It didn’t matter. Sure, football fans everywhere gather with ice-cold beverages to debate which players are best but there is nothing like the same cult of individuality.
Meanwhile, Matthew Futterman profiles who he calls “soccer’s Alexis de Tocqueville” – Jurgen Klinsmann, the German-born coach of the American soccer team who came to the US “to create a squad that represented what he sees as the defining American characteristic—a visceral hatred of being dictated to.” How he’s overhauling the way Americans play soccer:
As coach of Germany’s national team, he took a youthful group to the 2006 semifinal by transforming it from a defensive-minded squad to a free-flowing attacking one. He believed the modern game had no place for teams that hang back and try merely to survive—”parking the bus in front of the goal” in soccer-speak. For the U.S. team, he felt this strategy was wrong on another level: it was un-American. “You want to take things in your own hands,” he says of American behavior on and off the field.
Mr. Klinsmann taught the U.S. players to see the field differently—to impose themselves on opposing defenses, and for defenders to push high into the middle of the field and even to join the attack. Midfielders, who have to both attack and defend, were sent down the sides of the field where they could send crossing passes in front of their opponent’s goal. Most important, he implored them to keep the ball moving around the field, and the only way to do that, he explained, was to stay in near perpetual motion, to search constantly for the open space where they can receive a pass.