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Want To Grow Soccer In The US: It Takes Honest Criticism Not A Pollyanna Approach


Labor Day has come and gone, the sun is setting earlier, and, even here in Houston, the air contains a slight fall crispness. Yes, the Summer of Soccer is over, and what an interesting summer it has been. Back on Father’s Day, like a Phoenix, the US National Team rose from the ashes of its first two group stage matches in the Confederations Cup to advance to the semifinals where it shocked the football world by easily beating Spain, which was ranked by FIFA as the top national team at the time. It was this victory over Spain that grabbed the attention of the broader American public, resulting in an impressive 2.74 rating for the Brazil – US match on ESPN, per the overnight figures. Diehard fans of the US National Team rejoiced and basked in the new found attention that their beloved team was receiving in America, but there has been a dark side to the increased profile of US Soccer that occurred after that victory against Spain.

This dark side has been brewing all summer on the internet, particularly on certain message boards, and until today, I have seen it simmering but have chosen not to comment on the wicked wind blowing in American soccer. What is this wind? It’s a mindset that anyone whose analysis of the US National Team that is not 100% positive is an enemy of American soccer in general and the US National Team in particular. Like a tropical wave off the African coast that turns into an Atlantic Hurricane, the source of this wicked wind might just have been stirred up by the comments of US players, like Michael Bradley, following the US National Team’s victory over Egypt on Father’s Day.

What has finally spurred me to acknowledge this phenomenon was a message I received on Twitter today: “We are only trying to grow the game here in the US. Critics only turn people off and make them stay with american [sic] sports.” I can sympathize with the desire to grow the sport, after all that is one of the reasons this website exists. As for that second sentence, though, it is wrong on several levels.

The idea that critics of the game will turn people off is just ludicrous. If critics of teams and leagues turned people off of said teams and leagues, then ESPN and local sports talk radio stations across America would not be the success stories they are today. While non-sports media in the US has a bad tendency of dumbing down the news, sports media in the US understands that its viewers, listeners, and readers are not idiots and you cannot talk down to them. The quickest way for a sports media outlet to lose its broad audience is to paint a false, overly optimistic, happy, sappy picture of the local team, club, or athlete. If criticism turned people off, then the past week of discussion at 1560 The Game in Houston, home of my show, The Orange Slice, would have turned off all Texans fans and Astros fans with the criticism of the flaccid performances of the Texans on Sunday and the Astros all season. Guess what though, Texans and Astros fans here in Houston keep listening, and keep calling in to the local shows on 1560.

Here in Texas we have a saying: Don’t piss on me and tell me its raining. No matter what sport I happen to be commentating on, I keep that mantra in mind. I for one, and other commentators connected to MLS Talk, are not going to sugarcoat our opinions of the state of soccer in the US or the current form of the US National Team. When there is something to praise, we will praise it, and when there is something to criticize, we won’t hold our punches. What we won’t do is pretend our audience, including the majority of sports fans in the US, are idiots who can’t tell the difference between piss and rain.

What really crawled under my skin about that Twitter message was this part of the second sentence: “. . . and make them stay with american [sic] sports.” Instead of worrying about the analysis of the US National Team that is taking place on the MLS Talk website and in the MLS Talk podcasts, this person needs to take some time to learn their history. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: football/soccer is an American sport with a long, rich history in this country that dates back at least 140 years, if not longer.

When all is said and done, the success of American soccer and the US National Team off the pitch with general American sports fan will depend on two things: (1) success on the pitch and (2) honest assessments from the American soccer media. When the US National Team loses to Mexico 5-0 in the 2009 Gold Cup Final or 2-1 to Mexico at the Azteca in a World Cup Qualifier, the only way to keep the average American sports fan from shrugging their shoulders and losing interest is honest, serious, and sometimes harsh, criticism of the US National Team. It’s by explaining the shortcomings and mistakes of the US National Team, i.e. honestly answering questions, that the American soccer media can keep the new fan engaged, interested, and, most importantly, educated.

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  1. Ted Westervelt

    October 1, 2009 at 11:56 am

    Jason – sorry for coming in a week late with props.

    I can’t think of anything that proves your point more than the vitriolic posts that it drew in response.

    My response may devolve into a history lecture, and for that I apologize.

    American isolationism is a long and proud tradition, and if MLS has plumbed the depths of any tiny niche American soccer supporters, its the isolationist xenophobe soccer fan. They shun criticism, abhor the word FIFA, accuse Sepp Blatter of running meth labs, and bow down to the size of MLS investor pocket books. Fortunately, they account for only a small percentage of total American supporters, and their blog is louder than their bite.

    Why do I go there? USMNT criticism is part of what gets this small group going. They like their USMNT like their MLS: insulated from criticism, financial risk, and, at the end of the day, an unlimited future.

    In every other large footballing nation, clubs drive the popularity of national teams. We sit in a strange situation for a large industrialized country with such a long rich, soccer history – an anemic league coupled with a popular national team. As with most of their predecessors, (with a few exceptions like Steve Ross of the Cosmos) it’s much easier for billionaire MLS owners who have laid a little bit of their pocketbooks, if not their entire heart, on the future of this game, provided that it’s cocooned in their protective bubble.

    Even though MLS hangs on the coattails of the national team the MLS bubble still reaches in to rear it’s translucent head. If Fabio is under a microscope in England, Bradley is under one of those magnifying glasses you get in your kids bug hunting kit. Maybe that’s why he can bow to pressure to use domestic MLS players in our regional final against Mexico and get blown out 5-0?

    Imagine if that was the European Cup.

    Again, sorry for the preachiness. but I think you agree: bubbles like this protect our ill conceived single entity franchise leagues from the free market, clubs and national teams from criticism, billionaires from risk, and soccer from growing here in the states.

    It’s been that way for a long time.

  2. The Dude Abides

    September 18, 2009 at 7:41 pm

    DO YOU HONESTLY BELIEVE YOU COULD PUBLISH SOMETHING SO AMATEURISH AND POORLY WRITTEN ON AOL, SI OR EVEN DEADSPIN? YOU HAVE NO TALENT! “We won’t hold our punches.” Oh no? You must be a tough guy but not a smart guy because a smart guy would know the idiom is “pull our punches.”

    Why aren’t you writing for money if this is such a devastating and brilliant post? Because nobody would pay you, because you can’t write. Writing talent, like soccer talent, is scare. And you don’t HAVE ANY!!! And neither do several of the other posters to this blog, except maybe Krishnayer, but even he could use an editor.

  3. Tony

    September 18, 2009 at 6:39 pm

    It is important to understand that those leaving angry comments are probably young kids, who just started watching soccer in the last few years.

    I think the vast majority of long term fans see Kartik, Brian and Trecker as wise men that know this sport and its history very very well.

    • The Gaffer

      September 19, 2009 at 7:08 am

      Excellent point Tony and I completely agree with you. The immaturity and lack of knowledge in some of these comments is showing through, and it must be age that’s a factor, I agree.

      We should ID people before they post a comment to make sure they’re drinking age or above (just kidding, but it would weed out some of the nonsense comments).

      The Gaffer

  4. Brad

    September 18, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    Is that the real photo? I see this photo and the kid is wearing a different jersey in a couple I’ve seen.

  5. Roy J.

    September 18, 2009 at 4:19 pm

    I think this sport is too young in this country and many people need to be convinced that we are competitive to sell the sport to casual sports fans. Without those fans, the game doesn’t grow and we need to be positive and united, on the same front.

    Krishnaiyer is almost totally not worth reading.

    He watches too much soccer for his own good, always over evaluating other teams and strategy. Again, he doesn’t speak in Americanized sporting terms and always calls the sport football- it is called soccer, that is an English term.

    He is always insulting us using the term football for soccer and talking about Mexico, Germany and England, and other extraneous b/s. I really don’t think someone who is clearly an elitist about the sport should be taken seriously as we try to grow the game.

    He isn’t willing to dumb down his articles to explain things and speaks over our heads. He pretends that everyone should watch as much of soccer as he does and if they don’t, he needs to lecture us on the game. Worse yet are some of the posters here like Patrick Johnson who says if we don’t understand the game, we ought to quit watching it.

    I believe Krishnaiyer is the poster child for the term soccer snob.

    As for Zygo, he wrote an article defending Rossi decision to play for Italy. That alone makes me not value his opinion. What true American would take that point of view? It’s okay to be Benedict Arnold because the grass is greener on the other side. AMERICANS THINK OF THEMSELVES AS AMERICANS, NOT MEXICANS, CHINESE OR ITALIANS!

    Rossi has done more damage to the US cause than anyone, and while everyone else was rightfully angry, Zygo choose to support him.

    • Call it Soccer

      September 18, 2009 at 4:23 pm

      I agree Roy J!

      The continued use of the term football, makes me want to boycott this site. The coverage of MLS may be balanced, though huge gaps exist, but that is not the point. The USMNT is the focus of most soccer fans in this country, and this site covers it like it is the team of a country we are at war with, even though it is our country!

      • Call it FOOTBALL

        September 18, 2009 at 7:40 pm

        Go ahead and boycott the site then, nothing changes the fact that the name of the beautiful game is FOOTBALL. It’s played with a BALL, not an egg, and you use your FOOT, not your hands.

    • Richard Farley

      September 18, 2009 at 5:00 pm

      This comment is brilliant. Thanks for posting it.

      I have never seen a postmodern critique of contemporary dialog that was more adroitly employed, and to do so on (given the current state-of-the-game here) – in a thread that sought to engage readers concerning the parameters of our ongoing discussion – was particularly astute.


    • eplnfl

      September 18, 2009 at 5:37 pm


      Dumb it down. Only dumb people want it dumbed down. Not calling you any names but we need to lift up peoples knowledge of the game not suppress the human nature for learning.

      As to soccer v. football if you would read Trecker’s book on the last WC you find that Trecker explains very well that soccer is a proper name for the game. Not Eurosnob stuff.

    • Brian Zygo

      September 18, 2009 at 7:24 pm

      Wow Roy, that’s the first time I’ve ever heard a sports journalist criticized for watching to much of the sport he covers. I’ll have to pass that idea on to John Harris who is a college football expert and has tapes upon tapes upon DVDs upon DVDs upon digital files of old college football games, which he watches incessantly. And that’s why he knows what he’s talking about when he talks about this sport. You know what his response to your statement would be – “Let’s go put the film on Bro!”

      And that’s why people like Kartik and Trecker know what they are talking about too. We’re sports journalists, we’re not babysitters, we’re not nannies, we’re the sports media (to paraphrase Richard Justice). We don’t care about politics, we don’t care about flag waving, we don’t care about propaganda. What do we care about? The Game. Our desire to see the USMNT succeed is stronger then your desire, because we appreciate the Beautiful Game.

      Oh, and for the record, I’m a Euro-Trash Mutt-American.

  6. peter osgood

    September 18, 2009 at 3:11 pm

    Epl, I’m not completely sure I get your points other than you are suggesting that Kartik, Trekker etc. took zero positives out of South Africa? I don’t believe what’s written and what has been recorded suggests that.

    As great as it is to lose a final to Brasil three two, how did the US come to lose it? Those issues should be examined fully, as especially in this case winning in the 72nd minute [is fantastic on one level] and then losing the match in the next 2O minutes is not. Nobody in sport, and especially in this country ever remembers who lost a final. Any player of consequence will list losing a cup final in any sport as the worst moment in their career.

    The Gold Cup was a complete disaster on many levels, and more than anything a missed opprotunity to give young players with a real chance to make a difference in their USMNT careers some seirous competitive minutes. That in my book is a reason to fire everyone in US Soccer right there. In any other business it would be reason to do so as well.

    So what this comes down to is growth and momentum. Has the USMNT and US Soccer shown not just over the course of the summer but of this period under Bradley, growth or regression? There are points to be made on both sides, and Kartik I believe asks the hard questions as well as anyone. But as a good journo does, he’s asking the questions, and spurring debate. The idea that a journo is supposed to have all the answers etc is to lose sight of what a good journo does. There are so few left in the media at large, news sport in this country and throughout the world – including fucking England.

    A great example is how Kartik entitled his excellent post on Gooch’s Milan transfer, he is posing the question. As the season is not over, and one cannot draw firm conclusions either way at this point, but there is enough that has transpired – or not in this case – to suggest that it could have been a huge misstep for Gooch especially as the change in Champions League format ensures that Standard Leige will play five group matches through December and with unprecendented coverage of the matches. In High-fucking-Def no less. I wish with all my Arsenal hating might he could have been on the pitch for that match this week, he might well have made a difference.

    • eplnfl

      September 18, 2009 at 6:00 pm


      Kartik’s piece on Gooch is`excellent and highlights the prejudice that I believe exists in European soccer towards American talent. It’s something we as fan must oppose strongly. European teams sign talented American’s but then we find them riding the pines once they are there. American’s can star in international games such as Spain but then are found to have little value on European squads. We should come out strongly here that the teams that refuse to play American’s after there signing should not be supported on this side of the pond.

      No one except the ignorant are asking for a see no evil view of the USMNT. What we are asking for is a fair handed approach rather then a sellout to the skyfallers which is what ultimately happened in the post T&T podcast.

      For instance try this headline:

      USA Secures a valuable 3 points on the road! Ugly win brings the US closer to SA in 2010. All true. Now from there say that the US team needs a better effort against Honduras and Costa Rica. That the defense needs to be healthy and at full strength for the US to win. That a Torres needs to be given playing time to help the US. Yet what did we hear, the US will not win the group, the US will not win another game, that it’s another early exit for the team in the WC, that now the win verus Spain was meaningless, that the current talent can’t compare with the 2002 talent level.

      Ok, fair is to say both but it appears that the so called experts here have one opinion, they are skyfallers.

      Kartik, has done a commendable job in educating the soccer public of the talent and good soccer being played in Concacaf. Yet, when those good players and teams give the US a hard time in a qualifier all we hear is that Bradley needs to go, the USSF is terrible for the game(close to the truth there), and we have no talent. So, all I am asking for is fair evaluation of the overall progress of the team, which in an only results count world is that we are doing good, we should do better, and we have doing somethings never done before by US teams.

      Fair enough?

  7. dunce cap

    September 18, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    OK, I didnt know about tropical waves. Thats not what he said though. He said wave. And “dark side” has nothing to do with Hurricanes, more like Star Wars. It doesnt “brew” and “simmer.” “Wicked wind” is more like Wizard of Oz than meteorology.

    Yeah, the way its written is like hes telling us something about Texas that weve never heard before.

    Guys a moron. Delete his account.

  8. peter osgood

    September 18, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    Good god do people get off base on the subject of the National side and it’s players, and their careers.

    The idea of even the most erudite posters who constatnly defend every aspect of MLS/USMNT and suggest that MLSTALK and specifically Kartik and Trekker etc. are only reporting or analyzing one side of the story is off-base.

    It’s great that the issues surrounding the relative success/progress of football in this country and the National team arouse such passion in those that post here and elsewhere.

    What I think is being lost is that more than ever the collective masses following the national team and MLS closely, who have a good general knowledge of European football, and might have been to grounds overseas, and really understand the culture of football in countries where it matters most, have for the first time an opportunity to impact the decision makers at US Soccer and MLS.

    The uproar over the performance of the US after the first two matches in SA is a great example, this group under Bradley came to play against Egypt like we’ve never previously witnessed. The side played a very tactical match against the champions of Africa in a must-win situation for them as well, and took Egypt to the shed.

    So bravo to all those who proffesed disgust at the side’s performances, energy and concentration of the first two matches. All were heard. In dolby.

    If one goes back and reads post and post from KK, or listens to any number of podcasts there is plenty of ideas about how to do things better both in the domestic leagues here, as well as at US Soccer.

    Garber has been listening for years I can tell you that for fact, I know him, the key people at the league, the leadership of US Soccer, Bob and the players better than anyone who appears on MLS Talk podcasts, or posts here, and as well as anyone who covers the sport in this country. And I would think with a more independent mind than all.

    In my opinion there is no lack of pressure that can and should be placed on the higherarchy of both MLS and US Soccer, and it is in the greatest of American traditions to do so. I have given you a clear example of how not blindly supporting a lackluster effort at an international competition but instead calling the players out yielded immediate and in fact historic results. Others have made that point here previously.

    As far as ideas on how better to do things, removal of all members of US Soccer’s higherarchy is a fine action to call for. A revolution is required. That is the first step. Next step, place an experienced person with major international experience at the head of US Football – let’s re-name it what it actually is to start – and allow them to restructure the sytem from top down, and hire the right management team to lead the talent we do have and are currently birthing, so as to attain the next level of performance that can get us to where the US was supposed to be in South Africa, by US Soccer’s own proclomation, and that is to win the world cup.

    And in putting it in those terms does not for one hot second reduce the efforts of this group of players. Everyone wants to see them accomplish everything they can, but if anyone of you were able to get off-the-record honest replies to the simple question, “Is this setup at US Soccer, doing the best job it can to pick the right players, nuture the right talent, and best train the squad for every match it plays?” The answer from most, especially nearly all those playing overseas save one, and at least one major domestic club player would be, “No”. And this I know.

    • eplnfl

      September 18, 2009 at 2:44 pm


      I value your postings and but feel your off base on this one.

      Will the skyfallers reflect on this for a second, Italy had a terrible start to the last WC and calls were abundant for the firing of the coach. Yet, they got their act together after a tie with the US and won. So, how come the skyfallers and I respect your work and Brian’s too much to believe you are a skyfaller think the the Confed Cup was some sort of disaster for the US which is what is presented. In other words if you where told before the start the US would drop a match 3 to 2 in the final to Brazil you would of said going in great. We got there that’s what counts and thats the real complaint we have with the skyfallers.

      When we move on to the Gold Cup we are knew going into it that the US was fielding a B team. Little did we know that by the end of the tournament it would be C team vs. a B+ Mexico team bent on revenge. Yes, we looked terrible in the final and should of, but our C team looked great vs. Honduras in the semi but we do not hear about that.

      I do not want to re-argue my case and the skyfallers should have their forum and thanks to this site they do, but half of the fans believe as fans do that all is not just doom and gloom, maybe not all is very good, but good and deserve a voice, which after today I am still asking for more than ever.

      • Kartik

        September 18, 2009 at 3:32 pm

        When the other blogs and websites were saying the US looked disorganized and unimpressive against Honduras and Panama in the Gold Cup, I complimented them. Please go back and look at the archives before employing selective memory about what was said.

        Some other blogs including those “preferred” by people who favor less critical coverage thought beating Panama in ET was not acceptable. I argued to the contrary. I actually was more favorable after that game the majority of other writers.

        That’s because I spend time evaluating our opposition, unlike some other blog writers who simply make assumptions as if the USMNT exists in a vacuum. I knew the tactics and style Gary Stempel was bringing to that match and covered it as such. I also knew Blas Perez gives any US defender, including Gooch fits. Heck, I even gave the US more of a pass on the Haiti game because I watch Haiti alot in person and rate them higher than the US fans/journalists who couldn’t name more than one of their players before that night.

        Football, like any other sport is about matchups and tactics and I pride myself on covering and understanding that as well if not better than the next guy.

        Accordingly, being as pleased with this team as I was going to the final, the 5-0 thrashing did not deserve the pass so many people gave it. Mexico could have traveled to Cyprus or Belarus with that squad and struggled to win by more than 2 goals.

        Please go back and read some of the post match writeups during the Gold Cup. I believe the coverage was balanced if not overall very sympathetic to the US prior to the final.

  9. RY TWER

    September 18, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    The question for all these people is simple:

    Are you for our national team or against us?

    The national team IS NOT some random MLS franchise or European club.

    The national team IS our team, players spilling their guts to give us some joy and pride.

    Criticism comes with a price. If something is badly wrong, criticism can be tolerated, but when things are going as well as they have, people like Krishnaiyer have done nothing but criticize. He attacked US Soccer after wins against Guatemala and Cuba. He attacked US Soccer after a result in El Salvador. He attacked US Soccer after the refs gave Italy and Brazil consecutive games.

    This is not a laughing matter. This sport is more important than the Houston Astros with all due respect. This is the world sport and the US Team is OUR team.

    That is unless you are some Mexican illegal that still cheers on the cheating, whining enemy that wears green.

    Or unless you are some latte sipping liberal that loves Europe and chooses to cheer for Italy or England to satisfy your liberal conscience.

    • The Gaffer

      September 18, 2009 at 12:48 pm

      Ry, the vast majority of us who live in this country are for the US national team. I am, Kartik is, and all of the other writers on this site are. We all want the national team to succeed. And we all want soccer to succeed in this country.

      “Or unless you are some latte sipping liberal that loves Europe and chooses to cheer for Italy or England to satisfy your liberal conscience” — this comment of yours doesn’t even deserve a response. Absolute nonsense.

      The Gaffer

    • Kartik Krishnaiyer

      September 18, 2009 at 12:54 pm

      That is unless you are some Mexican illegal that still cheers on the cheating, whining enemy that wears green.

      Or unless you are some latte sipping liberal that loves Europe and chooses to cheer for Italy or England to satisfy your liberal conscience.

      You and your ilk promote a tribalism that rejects the diversity that is America and OUR national team as you put it. OUR national team features Tim Howard the son of immigrants from two different continents, Carlos Bocanegra of Mexican heritage, Oguchi Onyewu of Nigerian heritage, Benny Feilhaber son of an Austrian jew born in Brazil, Jozy Altiodre the son of Haitian parents, Landon Donovan, born to a Canadian father, Charlie Davies whose parents are Gambian, and many, many more. Need I go on?

      Based on your tribalism, only European-Americans or African-Americans born to former slaves constitute Americans and thus the above listed players and more don’t belong in the USMNT pool.

      Is that what you want?

      You can criticize Brian or me all you want, but don’t confuse what being American is, and who truly loves this country. You have no right to call others less American than yourself.

    • The Ghost of Josimar

      September 19, 2009 at 12:31 pm

      Ry —

      Vitriol from the Bill O’Reilly school has passed its sell-by date.

      It may be difficult to manage, but you have an invitation to join in with intelligent commentary in future.

  10. ZZ Top

    September 18, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    Here is the problem Brian which you do not understand:

    Krishnaiyer and his co-horts DELIBERATELY misrepresent what goes on in USMNT to make the situation appear worse than it really is.

    Now any objective observer would acknowledge that right now we are ranked 11th in FIFA and perhaps if anything should be ranked higher because we did get to the final of the second biggest tournament in the world and beat the European champions.

    Eurosnobs won’t acknowledge it because we have proven we are better than the teams from Europe. Kartik and his co-horts won’t acknowledge it because their brand of sensational, anti-USMNT coverage will have to be killed.

    Why did Krishnaiyer or anyone else fail to preface that our loss to Italy was because of a frivolous red card? A decent ref and we continue dominating Italy the way we did in the first 30 minutes. Against Brazil in the group stage, we draw or win that game without another horrible call resulting in Sacha being sent off. Heck, we even hit the post TWICE DOWN A MAN! Yet, to listen to some on this site Brazil is all that. They are not. We are as good as them.

    Yet on this site we never see an asterisk next to those games. The US gave up all the goals Krishnaiyer keeps talking about AFTER PLAYERS WERE WRONGLY SENT OFF.

    Spain we beat, badly. Brazil beat us in the final due to Bradley being suspended for another frivolous red card. With Michael, we win that game without question. Benny couldn’t break up the plays, nor link up with the attackers quickly and crisply the way M. Bradley does.

    Mexico beat our C team made up of lousy MLSers partly due to a dubious penalty. Yet, we never see the 5-0 prefaced by the PK call.

    The game at Azteca was influenced again by a ref that called twice as many fouls on us and gave us four yellows to their one, and did not send off two players who threw punches. Yet, despite all this official bias, they still needed a late goal to beat us. We had controlled play for most of the game, making Mexico play our way, and they could not break us down until the end thanks to the officials.

    So, now that the record is straight, who is the pollyanna, Brian? This site or USMNT fans? This site and its associated LIES, LIES, LIES ABOUT OUR NATIONAL TEAM!!!!!

    This is OUR NATIONAL TEAM. Criticizing it incessantly is like attacking our troops in battle in a distant land against our foreign enemies. It should not be tolerated in this country. Our coaches and the USSF are like our generals. Criticism can be allowed of them, but must be tempered with reality.

    What Krishnaiyer and his friends like Trecker do is instill a defeatist mentality in the American psyche. An Albanian or Somalian mentality. WE ARE AMERICANS. THIS IS OUR NATIONAL TEAM! SUPPORT IT OR GET THE HECK OUT OF HERE!

    A word about MLS coverage here. Kartik tends to be negative about MLS as well. But that is different- MLS is a league which has in the last few years gotten off course and truthfully done less to help the USMNT than it should be obligated to do. But his MLS coverage isn’t totally one sided. I have seen on this site numerous articles praising the Houston Dynamo and DC United. Clearly, he does not like Garber and let’s say if the Dynamo had beaten Saprissa the other night, their would have been a huge post about what a super club the Dynamo was- since the Crew accomplished that feat, silence from him.

    But who really cares? MLS is a league, with franchises in certain cities. That is the same story as USL. It is alright to criticize sports when the national honor is not at stake. No one abroad could care less about the American sports which are criticized as Brian references in Houston. Really, do anyone outside the US even know who the Houston Texans are? Besides the growth of soccer in the US is tied directly to the USMNT, nationalism and patriotism. MLS is a bit player in growing the game- public surveys and TV ratings back up that point.

    But the MLS and USL coverage here is far more realistic and balanced than the USMNT coverage. MLS fans may get angry at that statement, but the coverage reflects an accuracy of a league ranked consistently outside the top 50 by the the FIFA league rankings. At the same time, the USMNT which is constantly criticized despite being, in reality a top ten national team for the bulk of the last seven years.

    • Patrick Johnson

      September 18, 2009 at 1:31 pm

      Do the world a favor and find another sport to watch. You are the most obvious example of ‘idiot without a clue’. So let me attempt to wash the scales off your eyes.

      Kartik and co. are about the only ones in the United States to tell the public exactly what this USMNT are all about. Just because the truth stings and hurts, it still doesn’t hide the fact that it is indeed, the truth.

      What were we ranked before the 06 World Cup? Do you forget how bad we were in it? The FIFA Rankings mean nothing. If the FIFA Rankings were more honest, we’d be living round the mid to lower 30s, maybe even upper 40s.

      Let’s look at the Confederations Cup, a meaningless FIFA tournament that only has it’s status because FIFA wants a dry run for the following year’s World Cup. A competition that the bigger nations could care less about. If you actually followed international football and were up on the laws of the game, you would have realized that every single US Red Card was a legit red card. I know that’s a horror and a shock to you, but it’s the truth. Italy was turning the game in their favor when the US went down to ten and eventually made us pay the price for it. The first Brazil match was a beatdown of the worst kind for the US. Do you even realize that hell froze over just for the United States to even make it to the semi’s? Oh yea, I forgot, you don’t! That scenerio will never play out again.

      As for the semi-final match, yes the US should be applauded. They took complete advantage of a Spain team that was already finals hunting. Then against Brazil again in the final, we played 45 minutes of football and that was it. The US is lucky Brazil didn’t put half a dozen past the US in that second half. They PROVED not once, but twice who is the better team and that we are NO WHERE near their level when a game matters the most. So second place and finishing with a 2 wins, 3 loss record. Sorry, but that’s a joke, despite one of our greatest accomplishment.

      Sorry, but that was a penalty in the Gold Cup Final. A soft penalty yes, but it was a penalty nonetheless. The story though isn’t of the penalty, but how the US players flat out quit on their own home soil. It was an embarrassment to watch live.

      As for the Azteca game, did you even watch it? The US only controlled the open 18 minutes of that game. Once Mexico equalized, the US had no clue what they were doing. The US did not defend well, and if Mexico was on form on the day, would have torn us apart. But the US should be applauded for playing a very bad game…and still losing it? Don’t think so.

      As for these last two games, six points is six points yes. However, you play that poorly at a World Cup and you are going to get whipped. For all this talk that we have one foot in the door, I’ll be convinced of that when it happens. We are not winning in Honduras despite what all of you want to think, and Costa Rica now has a manager who has proven that in very short spurts can get results. To me, qualification for the World Cup is still 50-50 at best, and that’s being as objective as possible.

      I am no cheerleader for anything. I demand perfection and expect nothing less. Right now there is only one thing to praise about the National Team…that Bob Bradley has half a foot in the door with a bunch of misfits who do not care about playing as a team. Will I continue to support the US National Teams, yes I will.

      • Kartik

        September 19, 2009 at 12:05 pm

        You do realize the 5-0 loss was our worst in a competitive match since 1957. I don’t know how that can be excused as simply ” a group of MLS players.”

    • eplnfl

      September 19, 2009 at 8:26 am

      What is sad about the piece of ZZ is that when you remove the personal attackers and the direct assaults on people’s integrity, your good points are lost.

      You present the other side of the coin in the manner the skyfallers have presented their version of events. All I ask is that we have the middle ground presented on the same platform as the skyfallers.

  11. dunce cap

    September 18, 2009 at 10:49 am

    Let me see if I’ve got this right. The Internet critics of the critics of US Soccer are a “dark side” to the recent growth of professional soccer in America. This dark side was been “brewing” and “simmering” recently, even though that doesn’t make any sense. You brew beer, not darkness. But wait, it’s not a dark side, it’s a “wicked wind.” No wait, it’s an “Atlantic Hurricane,” or maybe the comments which were the source of the wicked wind are like a wave from Africa which grows into a Hurricane. Great, but waves, at least the ones in the water, dont grow into Hurricanes, and Hurricanes dont start off of Africa.

    Need I continue? My point is that you are an IDIOT and you have NO BUSINESS putting your hands anywhere near a keyboard.

    Oh yeah, “Here in Texas we have a saying: Don’t piss on me and tell me its raining.” That’s not a Texas specific figure of speech.

    I’m not saying anything about the authors point, whatever it was. I may or may not agree with it, or I may dismiss it as too unimportant to even bother forming an opinion about. I’m talking about the quality of the writing on this blog. Some of the writers who post here should have their accounts deleted, and even the best writers here need work.

    • Double Rods!

      September 18, 2009 at 12:30 pm

      When it comes to reading material I guess you tend to go for the dry, technical stuff. This is an op-ed piece, chill out man.

      At least we know you’re not a meteorologist and that you do not live near the southeastern coast or the Gulf of Mexico. A tropical wave in the Atlantic is an area of low pressure that typically grows out of clusters of thunderstorms. This can often occur off the coast of Africa and in the Caribbean. These waves can grow into tropical depressions, tropical storms, and then hurricanes. If you’ve ever experienced a hurricane, the imagery of brewing, simmering, darkness, and wicked winds, is understood.

      Finally, the writer never claimed the saying was created in Texas or only used in Texas, he just pointed out it is a saying used in Texas.


  12. Mark Fishkin

    September 18, 2009 at 10:24 am

    Sadly, I wish more MSM sports folks knew enough about the game to make informed criticisms of US (or any) matches. The cadre of widely-read soccer columnists (and widely-read bloggers) do a great job with critical commentary when it’s appropriate, but in the larger sphere, there’s little more than a score and a goal highlight or two.

    Controversy attracts attention, and more reach for those can argue intelligently about the game will be a nice appetizer for the sports as it continues to get more airtime in the US.

  13. Ata Dizdar

    September 18, 2009 at 10:03 am

    I like the picture of kid with the Feyenoord shirt. Personally, its like what Thomas Jefferson said, dissent is the greatest form of patriotism. Criticism of the national team should be stated, but people should not bitch for the sake of bitching so to speak. Constrictive criticism should be the order, but finding constructive criticism can be hard to find.

  14. Chapka

    September 18, 2009 at 9:11 am

    With all due respect, you appear to be arguing against a straw man.

    Are you seriously suggesting that you are a lone voice crying in the wilderness with your bold willingness to criticize the National Team?

    Honestly, I read a lot of soccer blogs and columns. And I’m having trouble thinking of any that haven’t called for Bob Bradley to be fired at least once. After the T&T game, every news report noted that it was a lucky win and that the team looked lackluster.

    If there’s a Pollyanna complex, the tweet you saw is the first evidence of it. I see a lot more evidence of people who don’t, for example, want to fire Bob Bradley being tarred as “pollyannas” and ignored than of people who want to criticize the team or its coach being persecuted by this “dark side” of people who don’t particularly hate any of our players.

  15. eplnfl

    September 18, 2009 at 7:48 am

    Brian, the message was clearly dumb. Yet, I see your piece here as a attempt to prop up the other side of the debate that the sky is falling most recently exhibited by the podcast after the double victory in the last set of games by the USMNT.

    Critics and insight of a critcal nature are helpful and necessary and the USMNT can use a lot of it. On the other hand the sky is falling nature of some critics who seem to get a platform over the middle of the road view is not what is needed. Do not get me wrong, a skyfaller(new word, sort of like birther) should be heard. They have some good points. Yet a large group of people here say hey, yea the USMNT did not look great in it’s last two games, but got 6 points, are almost locked into one of the 3 top spots, have had soem great wins recently, but work remains to be done.

    I am and I expect others are still waiting to hear presented in a podcast the other side of the story. People come to this site for intelligent and well thought out insight and comment on football issues in the US. As you point out no one wants just one side of the story and I think we need to hear it from MLS Talk.

  16. Chris Webb

    September 18, 2009 at 7:48 am

    Well done Brian as usual.

    What some people tend to forget is that for some of us critics (and being a frequent guest on MLStalk podcasts), the criticism comes from a desire to see the team improve. If the US had no soccer future and were simply going through the motions, I don’t think you’d see as much criticism as the team has taken on this past summer.

    The last podcast that involved Trecker, Kartik and some other gentlemen took the criticism a bit too far. As someone posted above, if you had not known the result of the US matches or even known their position in the Hexagonal, you would never have thought the US would ever win another game or have the capability to get to a World Cup. As we all know, the US is top of the group (for now) and a win clinches a WC berth.

    Sometimes too much is too much and that particular podcast got switched off after about 25 minutes because it was too much to take.

    I too am a heavy critic of the US team but again, I do it out of a desire to see the team improve. I don’t think others have the same agenda unfortunately.

    • Patrick Johnson

      September 18, 2009 at 10:26 am

      Sorry sir, but you are a moron. They didn’t take the criticism far enough. If you can’t take it, find another sport to follow.

      That goes for everyone, if you can’t take the frankest of frank realities with this USMNT, do the world a favor and go somewhere else. There’s obviously a reason you keep frequenting the blog. Obviously you know this is the only place you’re going to get the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

  17. Daniel Feuerstein

    September 18, 2009 at 3:36 am

    Well said Brian. I have tried to be as positive about our National Team & our League, but at the same time balance the criticism of pointing out the negatives. If we can’t be honest in writing our opinions and hearing the opinions of others that do concentrate on the game then there is no reason to continue with it.

    I’m glad we have MLS Talk and we can write an honest piece of the game here in the States.

  18. Chris B

    September 18, 2009 at 12:44 am

    As Jason said, criticism without positives is BS! I believe what you are talking about is the rebukes of Kartik, trecker and the other guy and while some of their points are valid most was just emotional outbursts with no ideas to fix them. To listen to them, the Palau Islands could take the US down because our players stink, our coach is is retarded compared to the geniuses in other countries, our federation stinks, we don’t give enough love to our players like in Europe etc etc etc. What are we doing right?

    I believe that is what you meant by “I for one, and other commentators connected to MLS Talk, are not going to sugarcoat our opinions of the state of soccer in the US or the current form of the US National Team” If I am wrong I apologize.

    Please also remember that soccer fans are thinned skinned from all the past real or perceived slants by anyone not in love with the sport, it will take time to thicken the skin.

    • Richard Farley

      September 18, 2009 at 2:20 pm

      “As Jason said, criticism without positives is BS!”

      Jason never said that.

  19. Seybold

    September 18, 2009 at 12:06 am

    I agree 100%. That’s the way it is in other sports. When local teams aren’t playing well in any USA city, the local newspaper isn’t full of hopeful mealy-mouthed platitudes. They engage in honest criticism and often call for changes in leadership, starting players, etc. In other words, accountability.

    I for one sure don’t plan to keep my mouth shut about defensive midfielders who allow acres of space for counterattacks, at home, when the USA has a lead, against the minnows of CONCACAF. Not now, not ever.

  20. Stephen Palkot

    September 17, 2009 at 11:07 pm

    Maybe it’s because I tried my hand at music criticism in college, but yes, I believe critics play an important role in a community. Objective feedback can be an important counterweight to marketing hype, both for fans and the soccer establishment itself.

  21. Kristian

    September 17, 2009 at 10:34 pm

    Well put

  22. Jason Davis

    September 17, 2009 at 10:29 pm

    Brian, I think your sentiment is fine, as the tweet you received is obviously ridiculous, but your conclusion is seriously flawed. Pointing out where American soccer is failing or needs improvement is important, if only to spur progress in the vacuum of a serious soccer media; but where you lose me is your supposition that to keep casual/non fans from losing interest, we need to be harsh or critical. Pollyanna is one thing, and doesn’t help anyone, but the the criticism must be meted out with equal doses of praise/optimism or many new fans to the game and the USMNT might not see the worthiness of throwing their support behind them.

    You seem to be advocating criticism for criticism’s sake, something I can’t buy into.

    As for your point about soccer’s history here: while it’s technically true, and while I share your frustration that too many people disregard or don’t know the history, the bottom line is that the game is “new” for millions of Americans on these shores, and we shouldn’t begrudge them a bit of naivety as long as it’s accompanied by a genuine desire to come to the sport.

    • Brian Zygo

      September 17, 2009 at 10:39 pm

      Thanks for the comment Jason.

      As I said above: “When there is something to praise, we will praise it, and when there is something to criticize, we won’t hold our punches.”

      I’m not advocating criticism for criticism’s sake, I’m advocating an honest assessment, because even a dog knows the difference between being tripped over and being kicked.

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