Tuesday, September 22, 2009

All I know is this

In America, when you walk down the street, you're much more likely to meet a racist than a socialist. Perhaps the Redneck Scare is what Joe McCarthy should've been looking into.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Eight years on

Never forgive, nor forget.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

No choice

The national team travels to a place familiar to American prospects of getting to the World Cup. 1989 sounded the Shot Heart Round the World. 2005 kicked off the United States' most successful final round of qualifying, first place the Hexagonal for the first time.

A win on Matchday Eight at Hasely Crawford Stadium doesn't secure a berth. And on the current run of form, the US doesn't appear to be in danger of grabbing the top spot in CONCACAF anyways.

And an away win isn't even assured. The US has won only three times away from home in this qualification cycle, and against countries that rate even less in global recognition and reputation than the Americans, and not once in the final round. Which has little to do with the US; of 21 Hexagonal matches, the away team has won only twice.

Given the choice, the US would field an experimental lineup and look towards South Africa. But today, the US has no choice. The US sits perilously on a one-point cushion propping up second place. Fourth place in the six-team tournament faces (and with Argentina looming, may very well lose to) a South American nation for the 32nd spot in 2010. No team in CONCACAF is looking forward to that.

The United States needs this game. Confederation dark horses Costa Rica and Honduras loom in the distance of the final two matches of qualifying. Honduras leads the group. Costa Rica is in fourth and desperately wants to play hot potato with the CONCACAF-CONMEBOL playoff. And Mexico has a good chance of winning out.

If only the US had the sort of confidence to get nine out of nine possible remaining points. Certainly its supporters, by and large, do not feel any such confidence is deserved.

But this is the easiest game of the three. The last steps toward qualification must start in Trinidad and Tobago, and it must start tonight.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Matchday 7

The United States faces many parallels today as it did at this point in the Hexagonal eight years ago. The national team was riding high early on, Mexico was in shambles, then the quadrennial three-pointer in Azteca was dropped in a thorough loss away. The next game at home against Honduras would prove crucial towards cementing US hopes of World Cup qualification. This is right about where we are today.

We hope this is where the parallels stop.

The United States lost that match eight years ago, and lost again away to Costa Rica four days later. They would need help from Costa Rica on Matchday 9 in a 0-0 draw against Mexico, coupled with a US win at home despite an incompetent ref and a physical Jamaican team. The national team finished third out of six, grabbing the last qualifying spot with one game to spare, without any sort of style or finesse in the effort.

It needn't be that way again. Change RFK to Rio Tinto, D.C. to Sandy, Utah, from anti-American to (hopefully) red, white and blue in the stands.

Forget what El Salvador is capable of. Forget Arturo Alvarez. Forget about Trinidad and Tobago four days from now. If this game is the slightest bit about anything other than the United States, we lose three points. If this game is a reflection of what we achieved this summer and what can be achieved next summer in South Africa, we win. Period, end of sentence.

It must happen tonight. It will happen tonight.