Another international soccer tournament, another chance for the American side to get humiliated on the world stage. The United States' stunning run in the 2002 FIFA World Cup seems like a distant memory at this point. Every time they lace up their cleats and take to the pitch, they lay a stinkbomb of epic proportions. I'm not sure how much more of this I can take.
This week, the FIFA Confederations Cup is being held in South Africa as a kind of warm-up to the 2010 World Cup. Unlike next year's larger and more prestigious tournament, this competition features just eight teams, regional champs all. It's mostly a distraction, intended to test the country's capability to host a large-scale event.
The United States' inclusion is nearly a matter of default. In our region, CONCACAF, only Mexico is a world-class team, and they've been in a tailspin lately. That means the US, by virtue of stomping all over impoverished Central American countries -- in sports, that is -- has earned the right to suffer bigtime karmic payback against teams like Italy and Brazil.
On Monday, the US lost to reigning World Cup champions Italy, 3-1. The loss was doubly painful because two of those goals were scored by Giuseppe Rossi, the next great Italian superstar -- who was born in Teaneck, New Jersey. American soccer fans are breathing fire about this. We have a hard enough time assembling talent as it is, but to see a dual-citizen turn his back on us for the sure thing of Italian soccer just burns.
Can I blame the guy? No. Would I do the same thing in his position? Probably. Am I still considering purchasing this t-shirt?
You know it.
The US-Italy tilt was also marked by a dubious red card call on American midfielder Ricardo Clark. The refereeing perfidy continued through yesterday's match against Brazil, when officials sent off Sacha Kljestan on a similarly borderline call. Hard enough to play against the five-time world champs when you have to play against the refs, too.
Not that the United States stood a chance against Brazil. We field a fine team in some ways -- the United States side is fit, disciplined, and plays textbook soccer. That's why we'll never beat teams like Brazil, who can throw something different at you every time you see them. The creativity and the willingness to attack the goal are sorely lacking from the United States. We're lucky we escaped with only a 3-0 loss.
You know who could have helped with that? Giuseppe Rossi.