In this edition of AC Devil’s Advocate, the heel turn portion of my mind reminds you that Team USA hasn’t won anything yet.
Sports fans always overrate recent events. The latest great shot, fantastic finish or nail biting championship game is “the greatest of all time!” Even before the end of the USA vs. Algeria World Cup match, soccer fans all around America were calling Landon Donovan’s game winning goal the greatest, most important shot in the history of USA soccer. Bill Plaschke of the LA Times upset many when he downplayed the Landon Donovan goal and its importance during Wednesday’s edition of the ESPN show Around the Horn.
Guess what? Bill Plaschke was right.
As I wrote in my June 23 sports piece, Landon Donovan’s game winning goal is a moment that we will never forget. Before you go out to a local Foot Locker or soccer shop in order to buy a silly little USA Soccer scarf, maybe you should examine Team USA’s extremely lackluster play over its last three games. What you’ll see is a team incredibly lucky to even be playing in the elimination round of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
USA vs. England: Team USA was out-played for roughly three-fourths of the match and gave up an early goal. The only reason USA came away with a point in its first World Cup match is because the English goaltender was too busy looking at a Hula girl as Clint Dempsey’s weak shot approached him.
USA vs. Slovenia: Team USA showed up to the match roughly 50 minutes late and gave up two goals because of it. Many American soccer fans focus on the penalty that robbed Team USA of what could have been a game winning goal. A bad call doesn’t change the fact that Slovenia (Slovenia) out-hustled and out-played the United States for over 50 minutes.
USA. vs. Algeria: Landon Donovan’s heroic goal is one to remember but it shouldn’t have even mattered. Dempsey blew three open-net possibilities and the United States was lucky to not be trailing 1-0 six minutes into the game. If not for a crossbar, team USA would be back in the States right now.
You had all better hope that Landon Donovan’s goal isn’t the most memorable moment of the 2010 FIFA World Cup for Team USA. Otherwise, you’re going to be very sad Americans who will likely once again give up on soccer once the United States is eliminated in its next match By Ghana. You may remember Ghana from such famous soccer events as the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
The United States was given a reprieve, not a World Cup championship, when Landon Donovan buried what, in reality, could be the easiest goal of his entire soccer career. Coming back against world soccer powers like Slovenia and Algeria are fun, memorable moments; moments that definitely will not be repeated once Team USA has to face some real competition in the World Cup.
The Landon Donovan game winner is being called “this generation’s 1980” by some sports fans. That particular Team USA knew how to move on past a memorable, historic victory in order to win a championship. USA Soccer is going to need plenty of other miracles in order to lift the gold cup this July.
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