USA plays England this afternoon in the 2010 World Cup. Having had strong outings in the friendlies leading up to the Cup–a 3-0 win over Australia and a 4-2 loss against the Czech Republic–the Red White and Blue boys have some momentum as they take the pitch against Wayne Rooney and England. Of course USA needs an absolutely perfect showing today to best England, who’s one of the favorites to advance well beyond the first round in the tournament.
There are reasons to be more optimistic about this USA team than its predecessors. This club seems more serious and disciplined than past teams, more grounded in footballing on the international stage and less concerned with presenting itself as a counter-U.S.-athletic-culture than earlier clubs, which often appeared to be childishly groping for a self-identity and unaware of the fundamentals of the game. Over the past two decades, I often heard from folks in Europe and Asia, where football is deadly serious business (far more than baseball or football in the U.S.), that American “soccer” was about as serious to FIFA as the CBA or CFL are to the NBA and NFL. Never have I heard this view more incisively or humorously articulated than John Oliver’s first report for The Daily Show from South Africa. Check it out, laugh your ass off, here (anybody know how to embed a Daily Show clip on WordPress?).