Washington Babylon — July 1, 2009, 9:46 am

More on the Awful American Soccer Team

I received dozens of replies to yesterday’s post about why I hate the American soccer team and was so happy to see it seize defeat from the jaws of victory in the Confederation Cup final against Brazil. The replies were overwhelmingly negative and a few were nasty (“You are embarrassing to our nation, the sport and journalism”). I’ll publish a few below. Thanks to everyone for writing, even Matt Horton, who sent that last comment (and I published the most civilized sentence of his tirade).

I don’t have time to respond to all the emails, but two things. First, to all those — including the editor of this blog — who said I don’t know anything about soccer, I lived in Brazil for five years and have seen many games, and even covered a few when I worked for the Associated Press. I have watched every World Cup since 1990 and have not missed a single game of Brazil’s in all that time. So I do know something about the game — and yes, of course, Brazil is my favorite team, which is why the American collapse last Sunday was especially delicious — and I recognize good soccer. The United States does not play good soccer; the national team has forever been boring, mostly talentless (Landon Donovan among the few exceptions) and specializes in choking on the rare occasion that it manages to get ahead of a good team.

Second, various emailers accused me of hating the United States and rooting against the team for “political” reasons. That’s just stupid. I root for American baseball and basketball teams in international competitions. I just hate the soccer team, for the reason I stated in the original piece and because it’s filled with a bunch of losers. I wish them continued defeat and heartache in the World Cup.

Meanwhile, here are a few comments:

From Matt Smith:

Don’t be such a jerk. It’s a first for American football fans to see
our country in a FIFA Final Cup match. The reason why people enjoyed
seeing the US play the best team in the world is a lot like seeing
George Mason take on Florida in 2006. Was it probable? No chance.
Were they going to win the NCAA Championship? Probably not, but we –
Americans – like the underdog, and it’s deeply rooted in our history.

Wait a few years before you start hating on U.S. Soccer. Besides, find
another country to cheer for after we lose in the World Cup.

From Brandon West:

I disagree with your piece, but I will acknowledge that we shouldn’t expect the U.S. to be
competing with the best from now on. But to suggest that the U.S. never
belonged in the competition is a little bit much. The U.S. team has been
largely the dominant program in our conference, and is beginning to
give Mexico a run for its money. They have been ranked ahead of Mexico
for some time now, this isn’t completely a [new] phenomenon that we are
practically the best team in the CONCACAF, which is how we got into
the competition in the first place.

From David Cody:

I have no idea if the U.S. soccer team is mediocre now, but they certainly were 15 years ago, when I finally just gave up on them. You couldn’t find a better example of reckless ignorance, even on television. Watching the US play soccer was like tuning in to an Olympic track meet and getting a demolition derby instead.

And my favorite, from Richard Steele, who frequently posts comments on GOAL, the New York Times blog on soccer under the moniker of boringarsenal.

Loved your response to the USA v Brazil match. As an avid follower of
real football, nee soccer, I am always amused when fellow office
workers chime in with following, “Hey, I watched that, what was it,
the Confederations Cup, wow, it was great.” “Gee, I’m going to start
watching soccer, it’s really a wonderful sport.” I spend 9 months of the year watching the Premier League and Football
League matches from merry old’ England, and suddenly whenever an
international match of dubious value pops up, my fellow Americans get
quite worked up…Yeah, I hate ’em, too!

Share
Single Page

More from Ken Silverstein:

Commentary November 17, 2015, 6:41 pm

Shaky Foundations

The Clintons’ so-called charitable enterprise has served as a vehicle to launder money and to enrich family friends.

From the November 2013 issue

Dirty South

The foul legacy of Louisiana oil

Perspective October 23, 2013, 8:00 am

On Brining and Dining

How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy

Get access to 167 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

November 2017

Preaching to The Choir

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Monumental Error

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Star Search

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Pushing the Limit

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Bumpy Ride

Bad Dog

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
Monumental Error·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

In 1899, the art critic Layton Crippen complained in the New York Times that private donors and committees had been permitted to run amok, erecting all across the city a large number of “painfully ugly monuments.” The very worst statues had been dumped in Central Park. “The sculptures go as far toward spoiling the Park as it is possible to spoil it,” he wrote. Even worse, he lamented, no organization had “power of removal” to correct the damage that was being done.

Illustration by Steve Brodner
Article
Star Search·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

On December 3, 2016, less than a month after Donald Trump was elected president, Amanda Litman sat alone on the porch of a bungalow in Costa Rica, thinking about the future of the Democratic Party. As Hillary Clinton’s director of email marketing, Litman raised $180 million and recruited 500,000 volunteers over the course of the campaign. She had arrived at the Javits Center on Election Night, arms full of cheap beer for the campaign staff, minutes before the pundits on TV announced that Clinton had lost Wisconsin. Later that night, on her cab ride home to Brooklyn, Litman asked the driver to pull over so she could throw up.

Illustration by Taylor Callery
Article
Pushing the Limit·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

In the early Eighties, Andy King, the coach of the Seawolves, a swim club in Danville, California, instructed Debra Denithorne, aged twelve, to do doubles — to practice in the morning and the afternoon. King told Denithorne’s parents that he saw in her the potential to receive a college scholarship, and even to compete in the Olympics. Tall swimmers have an advantage in the water, and by the time Denithorne turned thirteen, she was five foot eight. She dropped soccer and a religious group to spend more time at the pool.

Illustration by Shonagh Rae
Article
Bumpy Ride·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

One sunny winter afternoon in western Michigan, I took a ride with Leon Slater, a slight sixty-four-year-old man with a neatly trimmed white beard and intense eyes behind his spectacles. He wore a faded blue baseball cap, so formed to his head that it seemed he slept with it on. Brickyard Road, the street in front of Slater’s home, was a mess of soupy dirt and water-filled craters. The muffler of his mud-splattered maroon pickup was loose, and exhaust fumes choked the cab. He gripped the wheel with hands leathery not from age but from decades moving earth with big machines for a living. What followed was a tooth-jarring tour of Muskegon County’s rural roads, which looked as though they’d been carpet-bombed.

Photograph by David Emitt Adams
Article
Bad Dog·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Abby was a breech birth but in the thirty-one years since then most everything has been pretty smooth. Sweet kid, not a lot of trouble. None of them were. Jack and Stevie set a good example, and she followed. Top grades, all the way through. Got on well with others but took her share of meanness here and there, so she stayed thoughtful and kind. There were a few curfew or partying things and some boys before she was ready, and there was one time on a school trip to Chicago that she and some other kids got caught smoking crack cocaine, but that was so weird it almost proved the rule. No big hiccups, master’s in ecology, good state job that lets her do half time but keep benefits while Rose is little.

Illustration by Katherine Streeter

Estimated portion of French citizens with radical-Islamist beliefs who grew up in Muslim families:

1/5

Human hands are more primitive than chimp hands.

Trump declared flashlights obsolete as he handed them out to Puerto Ricans, 90 percent of whom had no electricity in their homes; and tweeted that he wouldn’t keep providing federal hurricane relief “forever” to Puerto Rico, a US territory that the secretary of energy referred to as a “country.”

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Report — From the June 2013 issue

How to Make Your Own AR-15

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

By

"Gun owners have long been the hypochondriacs of American politics. Over the past twenty years, the gun-rights movement has won just about every battle it has fought; states have passed at least a hundred laws loosening gun restrictions since President Obama took office. Yet the National Rifle Association has continued to insist that government confiscation of privately owned firearms is nigh. The NRA’s alarmism helped maintain an active membership, but the strategy was risky: sooner or later, gun guys might have realized that they’d been had. Then came the shootings at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, and at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, followed swiftly by the nightmare the NRA had been promising for decades: a dedicated push at every level of government for new gun laws. The gun-rights movement was now that most insufferable of species: a hypochondriac taken suddenly, seriously ill."

Subscribe Today