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U.S. soccer fans, hold on tight

POSTED July 3, 2009 5:32 p.m.

Don’t loosen that grip.


Yeah, the U.S. men’s soccer team lost in FIFA’s Confederations Cup last weekend to Brazil after being up two goals — which is like having an advantage of at least 20 points in basketball or several touchdowns in football. But America’s run is not over, far from it. It’s only the beginning. They showed the world that they’re no longer the L.A. Clippers of world soccer, the team that had so much talent, but never produced when it mattered.


For some, this might be a good time to jump off that bandwagon, to fall victim to a stereotype.


Let’s not go there, let’s not be so cliché.


There’s a lot to anticipate in the coming years. America is no longer a joke, no longer a piece of cake. One soccer analyst on ESPN perhaps put it best when he said the USA team is no longer “an appetizer,” something easy to finish off before the main course such as Brazil, Italy or Spain. Americans have to be taken seriously now. So, what does all this mean?


It could mean a historic showing in next summer’s World Cup in South Africa.


Sure, it’s a big deal that the Americans played for a championship in a FIFA event, but that is nothing compared to what is possible in the future. They could destroy the perceptions of foreigners, thinking this country is just about golf, basketball, football, baseball and hockey. And that this run isn’t sponsored by luck, as some experts have said. Which all means that a World Cup final is possible. That sounded crazy only a few years ago.
The Americans could possibly top their best finish in 1930, when the U.S.A. settled for third place in the World Cup. Or improve from their 2002 run to the World Cup quarterfinals.


But they could definitely make the world forget what happened in 2006, when the U.S. team didn’t advance out of the first round.


Just look at what the U.S. team was able to do recently, sending Spain, the world’s No. 1 team, home early after an unexpected upset and terrorizing Brazil for an entire half before submitting to defeat.


If those reasons aren’t enough, know this: The Americans have a lot of promise. They have a lot of talent in the forwards, as Jozy Altidore and Charlie Davies showed they can be very deadly. And remember, Altidore is just 19-years-old.


Also, they have leaders in goalkeeper Tim Howard (a starter in the English Premier League), Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan. These players will only get stronger.


Tighten up that grip and hang on.
To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail csun@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.

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