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.