December 2009, World Cup 2010

The American Dream on Foreign Turf

Success in American sports can have many different implications and meanings. For those faithful to the New York Yankees, a season without bringing home another World Series ring is unacceptable. Every single Detroit Red Wings supporter come playoff time would rather give away their children than gloomily wander out of Joe Louis Arena in the midst of defeat. These two teams and championships go hand in hand. But on the other end of the spectrum, struggling clubs such as Portsmouth and Bolton will consider avoiding relegation a small miracle. If a dramatic victory is snatched in the most unlikely fashion in the later fixtures of the season, champagne bottles will be popped to celebrate a 17th out of 20 finish. If you have poked around the Internet blogosphere lately, you will find this success variation being applied to our chances in South Africa this summer.

A few soccer junkies have called for nothing less than a semi-final berth, but they appear to still be drinking the Confederations Cup Kool-Aid. Yes, we did beat Spain. Yes, they are the number one country in world. Yes, we were up 2 nil on Brazil. No, this does not mean we will coast in the World Cup. The more intelligent-minded sports writers and soccer experts are predicting getting out of the group and maybe advancing to the quarterfinals. This seems reasonable. With a likely second place finish in Group C, the stage will probably be set against Germany – invoking memories from the controversial match played in South Korea in 2002. At that point, anything can happen. I’ve even overheard a few conversations expressing overwhelming delight that the United States simply qualified for the World Cup. However, this young man lost all credibility when he failed to name a single member of the U.S. squad.  All matters aside, the range of expectations still fluctuates greatly throughout this country.

On paper and in our minds, Landon Donovan should dazzle. Clint Dempsey should destroy. Tim Howard should dominate. The defense should tighten the screws. The counter should be implemented effectively. But in the end this is sports, nay, this is soccer. Nothing will come out expected. Overall and despite an unfavorable World Cup history and myriad recent setbacks, the Yanks can still achieve greatness. At 60-1 odds, that lonely one is still attainable. The path is illuminated and the directions are clear. We’ll just have to wait, watch, and see.

Tim Patterson