There was some entertaining reading in the 24-hours following Argentina’s beat down of the United States in the Copa America Centenario.
Clearly, U.S. fans were hoping for something better than the dominating 4-0 defeat Messi and friends — some very talented friends — put on the USMNT on a summer Tuesday night in Houston. Discussion about a range of topics including U.S. tactics and its lineup were had across publications and blogs. But many of these were a bit comical and lacked perspective.
At the end of the day, Argentina is just a much better side than the United States. And that’s OK. The boys in red, white and blue gave effort and didn’t quit. Neither did their coach, Jurgen Klinsmann. But they were just outmatched by a team that includes the best player in the world (Lionel Messi), and a supporting cast consisting of Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain and Angel Di Maria who play for top teams in England, Italy and France respectively.
The Argentina/U.S. match in the Copa semi-finals was reminiscent of the Dream Team, that gathering of illustrious American basketball talent that dominated the 1992 Olympics in, somewhat ironically, Barcelona. That team, with Michael Jordan at the helm, were winning a gold medal that summer. The only question was how bad the U.S. would be beating its opponents.
While those of us in the States beamed with pride that summer, the rest of the basketball world marveled at the talent level on the U.S. roster. But the presence of those stars on the Olympic stage was a benefit to the sport globally. It would be only 12 years later when at the 2004 summer games in Athens another team of U.S. professionals would take home a bronze medal, finishing behind Argentina and Italy. Clearly, the Dream Team inspired other countries to improve their national basketball programs.
It was cool watching the U.S. take on Argentina on our soil. An event such as this will only help the sport continue to grow in America. But opposition such as the Argentinians should also show how much more work needs to be done, both at the national team level and at the youth levels.
The good news is that we’re continuing to see more American players find success in top leagues overseas. DeAndre Yedlin has spoken about the positive impact Sam Allardyce has had on him during his time with Premier League side Sunderland. Geoff Cameron and John Brooks, who shored up what had been a troublesome back line, ply their trade in the Premier League and Bundesliga respectively.
Unlike other major sports in the U.S., soccer is indeed a global game. U.S. Soccer would be wise to continue its efforts to mirror the training regimens for youth programs and maybe open its minds to something such as — dare we say it — promotion/relegation for its professional leagues. We’ll get to that topic in later post.
But for now, let’s celebrate the efforts of our U.S. Men’s National Team, and also realize they have lots of work ahead if they want to compete with the top international teams.
Greg Sleter is the Editor and Publisher of SleterFC.com.