17 March 2006

We've come a long way, baby

This blog is a sports blog generally about the big 2 (college football and NFL), and Georgia sports in a general realm. But today, we've got to give serious props to one sport overlooked by many: Soccer/Futbol.

FIFA has come out with their monthly rankings and the United States (OUR United States!) men's team is #5 in the world. This is truly amazing given a penchant for European bias, and anti-North America bias worse, as shown in the FIFA rankings system. So despite the odds, the US has their highest world ranking ever.

You have to take into perspective that the US came last in the 1998 World Cup. After making the WC in 1990 for the first time in 40 years, the US made a better impression in 1994 when it advanced to the knockout stage, to lose in the first round against the 94 WC winners Brazil. The US hit rock bottom though in 1998. Indeed after finishing dead last four years prior, it couldn't get much worse 4 years later. But the Bruce Arena-coached US advanced to the knock-out stage in 2002, to lose in the second round to Germany, who like Brazil eight years prior, ended up as the World Champions. I believe the 1998 WC was a turning point for the US. It was a time to either back futbol or bust. The hiring of Bruce Arena has turned out to be the right choice. Very American, very candid, he's a difference maker in a sport where the coach, come gametime, takes more of a backseat role than most other sports.

Not to say that the US team isn't getting better in terms of players. They are, obviously. Donovan (the 24-year-old phenom out of California), DeMarcus Beasley (a tremendous two-way player), Cobi Jones (team leader in international play), and Eddie Pope (defensive anchor) are just some of the solid players on the squad. And now this team, just months away from Cup play, are considered top 5 in the world. Should make for a fun summer ride!


At 1:24 PM, Blogger Dante said...

While I am happy for our World Cup bound team, I don't think using a headline that reminds us of the women's lib movement at best and a Virginia Slims ad at worst is helping anyone's view of soccer as it relates to other US sports.


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