Hua's note: We will leave the tactical analysis to our brilliant colleagues at Zonal Marking. But in the aftermath of the United States' disappointing 2-2 draw with Slovenia, you can already predict the headlines: praise for the Americans' plucky guts, their never-say-die attitude, their intestinal fortitude when the odds were against them, their heroically brave comeback from a near-insurmountable deficit, that third goal we were unjustly denied. Did I say we? It's hard not to get swept up in these things, even when you see the narratives for what they are, blah blah blah something about nationalism etc etc "way of life" blah blah. We probably shouldn't have been two goals down to begin with.
For some WC2010 watchers, perhaps rooting for America-as-nation might lapse into a more nuanced appreciation for the squad or sport itself. And if this happens, then they will be kilometers ahead of most American sports writers. Piotr passed on this great post on the "soccer wars" by Alex Massie over at The New Republic's "Goal Post" blog, wherein Massie essentially argues that soccer is and will continue to remain a fixture in American sports. One of the sole reasons this idea is ever contestable is because the worst among pundits insist on approaching soccer using the examples, metrics and vernacular of professional basketball or football. Or, in the most egregious cases, assuming that the ideal athletic frame here is a universally-transferable metric:
Bill Simmons writes that Rajon Rondo would be a great soccer player too:Can you think of a better position for a catlike 6-3 freakishly athletic guy with oversized hands than soccer goalie? I mean, other than point guard? Why do I feel as if we could teach Rondo the position in 10 days and he would instantly become the best goalie in the world?
Why does Bill Simmons "feel" that? Because he's an idiot.