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Americans almost always interpret international sports victories as demonstrations of national superiority, so it was wonderful to watch the U.S. soccer team’s massive choke in the Confederation Cup final against Brazil. Ahead 2-0 at the half, the Americans watched helplessly as Brazil scored three goals in the second half to win. (Actually four, but the referee blew a call and failed to credit what I, watching the game on television, could see was an obvious goal by Kaka.)
All the hype in American newspapers about the national team’s second place finish obscures the fact that the U.S. team is mediocre and should never have been in the final to begin with. They lost three of their five games and stumbled into the second round by pure luck. Yes, they beat Spain, but upsets can happen on any given day, especially in a tournament where (after the first round) every match is an elimination game.
The U.S. got lucky early against Brazil, but showed its true colors by sitting back the rest of the way and being stomped into submission. It leaves me very hopeful for the team’s early exit from next year’s World Cup.
Note: Just got this email from Ivana Veljkovic:
I just read your post. I personally could not care less about soccer/football but it is really funny that, during the first half of the game, all of my non-American/non-Brazilian friends were cheering for US team. I was following their posts on Facebook and they all wanted to see Brazil, described as a team of “pompous asses”, fail and were really disappointed when Brazil eventually won. It is funny how cross-national unity works.
Readers, please keep sending your comments, even the hate mail. I will post a sampling tomorrow.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Commentary — November 17, 2015, 6:41 pm
The Clintons’ so-called charitable enterprise has served as a vehicle to launder money and to enrich family friends.
The new docudrama The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story (FX) isn’t really about Orenthal James Simpson. It’s about the trials that ran alongside his — those informal, unboundaried, court-of-public-opinion trials in which evidence was heard for and against the murder victims, the defense and the prosecution, the judge, the jury, and the Los Angeles Police Department, to say nothing of white and black America. History has freed us from suspense about Simpson’s verdict, so that the man himself (played here by Cuba Gooding Jr.) is less the tragic hero he seemed in the mid-Nineties than a curiously minor character. He comes to the center of our attention only once, in Episode 2, at the end of the lengthy Ford Bronco chase scene — which in real life was followed by a surreal cavalcade of police cars and media helicopters, as well as an estimated 95 million live viewers — when Simpson repeatedly, and with apparent sincerity, apologizes for taking up so much of so many people’s time. It is an uncannily ordinary moment of social decorum, a sort of could-you-please-pass-the-salt gesture on a sinking Titanic, in which Simpson briefly becomes more than just an archetype.
Amount an auditor estimated last year that Oregon could save each year by feeding prisoners less food:
Kentucky is the saddest state.
An Italian economist was questioned on suspicion of terrorism after a fellow passenger on an American Airlines flight witnessed him writing differential equations on a pad of paper.
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“Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'”