Jacksonville Sports News, Sam Kouvaris - SamSportsline.com

World Cup 2002 Recap

With the US out of the World Cup, my interest is still there, but certainly not at the pitch it was. The contrasting style of play between countries makes any international match up with something on the line fascinating, but without the Americans involved, I’ll be a casual observer.

The US team’s drive into the quarterfinals might have signaled the arrival of this country on the international soccer stage. The MLS should get some credit for that, giving our best players a chance to compete on a regular basis instead of waiting around for the national team to be formed and go off and play some “friendlies.” The top talent is distributed all around the world, playing in the English Premier league and in places like Spain and Germany. In fact, America’s best player, Claudio Reyna, is considering not playing for the US when the World Cup rolls around the next time. Too much traveling, to tough on his family are they main reasons. Reyna is an English Premier Division player who basically commutes to the US national team games.

Even though they lost to the Germans 1-0, the US perhaps played the best game ever in international competition by a team representing this country. And they played like Americans. They didn’t try to emulate the English, or the South Americans, or some kind of European style of play. They created their own style, and American style of play. Aggressive, passionate, and not intimidated, the US didn’t back down to the Germans, and used their speed and experience to stay in the game.

The German goal was superb, just what you’d expect: a header from a 6’3” guy flying through the box. That’s what the Germans are known for, and they executed it. Most observers think the Americans actually outplayed Germany, but that’s what makes the Germans a world power. Even when they’re not at their best, they can still win. The US will be known as a counter attacking team with speed, a reflection of the talent being groomed in this country and refined abroad and in the MLS. And that’s good. Out top athletes are still not choosing soccer, but those who are, are able to compete on the international stage. As one expert put it, “If the Americans decide they’re going to be good in this sport, there’s nothing the rest of the world can do about it.”