England-USA -- 1927 Yankees vs 2009 Mariners (3)

=== U.S. Basketball ===

In 1992, NBA players "competed" in the Olympics for the first time ever, and the laugh-fests were wire to wire.

Jordan, Magic, Bird & co. won games by scores like 116-48 all the way through.   The U.S. won the quarterfinals by 38 points, the semis over Lithuania by 51 points (!) and then the second-toughest team in the world (Yugoslavia*) was stomped by 32, and it could have been more.

That's sort of what English soccer fans expect against the U.S., and I sensed this residual expectation in the chat threads I read...

But just eight years later, 2000, the NBA (Ray Allen, Vin Carter, the Glove, Kevin Garnett etc) had tremendous difficulty scratching out the gold medal.  The won the semi by only 2 over Lithuania, and the final against France was just a 10-point margin.

The problem?  Once the world dared to play against the U.S. and get blown out a few times, and integrated its own players into the NBA .... those countries were fielding solid NBA teams themselves.


The U.S. is stacked with English Premier League players now.  They're not superstars there, but they're good international players.

England has by far the better players -- far better than anybody save Brazil, Spain, and maybe the Netherlands.  But the U.S. is a top-15'ish team, and nobody looks forward to playing them any more.  They're a tough side in 2010.  They will be from now on.


=== Next Up ===

Reuben Fine was unofficial chess champion of the world from 1936-1938.  He was also a practicing psychoanalyst who wrote fascinating books that intersected the two fields.

He pointed out that there is a completely different sports psychology in being the underdog vs. the upperdog.  "As the underdog, a player is the son tackling the father," Fine wrote.  It's easy to let it all hang out.  It's a different sport when you become the man being shot at.  Bobby Fischer retired permanently, the moment he became the upperdog.

There was no pressure on the U.S. whatsoever, other than to come into the locker room later with skinned-bloody knees from slide tackles.  A draw was a win.


The next two games, however, the U.S. is expected to win and to win as befits "a first-class international side."  It will be very interesting to see how the U.S. game warps as it becomes the upperdog.



Dr D



As you commented, the US is good enough to challenge the upperdogs. The US, however, is only an upperdog compared to their opponents in the next two matches. I still believe that they are a step behind the best teams (which is a compliment). They will need to have an aggressive, attacking style to win against the underdogs. If their approach is to "not lose", they might just do so (lose).
The key to beating the teams above you is to play like you have nothing to lose AND have a great goalie and a little luck.
The key to beating the teams below you is to play with confidence and agressively, never letting the underdog think that they can compete with you. Never let them start believing in themselves...keep them looking up to you. This is similar to me beating my son in one-on-one bball until he "figures out" that he can take me. Btw, it is starting to happen.


...but only if they actually play like they should make it out of pools. :)  The next two matches are against spectacularly undersized nations without much in the way of soccer background...but that doesn't mean you can assume victory.  Tying England would seem to have given the US a great shot to advance, however.


1.  That's a great way to put it:  that the U.S. can now legitimately give the top teams a headache.  Perfect zero of their position.
2.  Right, of course they're only expected to win routinely against also-rans.  Not against top-25 teams, certainly.
3.  Agree that aggressiveness, goalkeeping and luck is the path to a miracle.
4.  Agree that the U.S. drawing or beating the top 3-4 teams is still something of a jaw-dropper.  Of course, that's true of (say) Russia as well.  Those top teams are simply awesome this year.
It's nice to see the U.S. playing so tough, but of course they don't have the 2-3, maybe 4 world-class players that MANY countries have.


only if they play like they should make it out :- )
Fortunately, the U.S. team right now has a rep for giving a real good *effort* just about every time.  They don't like being underrated and they play with a chip on their shoulder.
Yeah, assuming that England detonates Slovenia and Algeria, the U.S. could even just draw Algeria, beat Slovenia and they're in, right?


Actually with a point in the bag (against England) and 3 points for beating Slovenia, the US could lose to Algeria if England beat Slovenia. The result would be England (7 pts), US (4 pts), Slovenia (3 pts),  Algeria (3 pts).
However, this is exactly the kind of thinking that nets you an earlier exit from the cup. We should be looking to top England with 2 victories and a greater goal differential. Let's make a statement.


A German would love nothing better than to stir the English pot and turn their focus away from the task at hand. Let's get the fans and players questioning the coach's ability while Germany quietly makes it way through the cup. A little soccer "trash talk"...


I'm talking as a fan, not as a member of the U.S. team.  :- )  An actual player on the field needs to have one thought only:  "make 'em bleed."
Didn't realize that the situation was as bright as all that.  If the U.S. plays top-15 soccer, it should go through.


Watched the second half of the Switzerland/Spain game. In this game, the clearly superior team, Spain, lost to an opportunistic Swiss team. All is takes, once again, is a lot of heart, a lucky chance or two, and a great goalie (the whole defense needed to play well in this one since Spain was clearly superior...#2 vs. #24...no one needed to tell anyone the ratings...they could be see with our own eyes).
For those who have a disdain, or more accurately, a powerful distaste for soccer needed to see this game. It showcased an amazing display of soccer skill by the Spainish side and the "bend but not break" heart of the Swiss side. There were many chances, exciting play, and an attacking style. Now only if the score ended 4-3 we might convert a few. :)


In which the U.S. was also outshot by a 25-9 type margin.
We Gooners fans were tortured by this type of thing all year... maintain 60, 65% possession but here comes one counterattack and a brilliant move by a creative scorer (Rooney, Drogba, whoever) ... whoops, now you're one down and 5-10 minutes later, you're fearing the worst...
One thing to outplay your opponent in the midfield, another thing to put the ball in the net...
Soccer is a real momentum game, and the emotion shifts are palpable...  beautiful game :- )

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