Thursday, June 10, 2010

World Cup Endorsement hereby endorses The United States of America for World Cup glory.

This is an entirely emotional choice, since I'm aware that the USA may struggle to get out of the group stage. Although they stunned Spain 2-0 in the most recent Confederations Cup and were very unlucky to lose 3-2 to Brazil in the final, the Americans are a fairly limited side with a couple of quality players, and one of them is a goalkeeper. Even then, the World Cup is a big step up in tournament terms and I'm fairly certain that repeat fixtures would end badly for the Yanks.

Nonetheless, I hope they pull off a big shock and manage to make the quarter-finals at least, for two very patronising but heartfelt reasons, being

1) The two week holiday I enjoyed in Boston, New York and environs in 2004, during which pretty much everyone I met was incredibly friendly and keen to offer suggestions for interesting touristy things to do. Plus, almost all the USians I've ever met in Britain have been funny, cheerful and non-judgemental people, and

2) I'm absolutely convinced that, if they put their minds to it, the Americans could develop into an excellent side that regularly challenges for trophies. Like the Aussies, the Yanks are mad about sport and insanely competitive, and they tend to excel when a sport catches on.

The US has probably one of the best infrastructures for sport on Earth, from sports science and training to a potentially huge fanbase - Europe-sized! - with enough disposable income to both fund the game at grassroots and to pack out future tournaments. Further, the Latino population is growing quickly and I have an entirely irrational and mildly racist belief that this will somehow translate into a massive resource base of young, enthusiastic players who are trained to focus on individual skill. That could mean a giant crop of talent that could grace any tournament or league in the world.

Finally, the United States are, along with India and Pakistan*, more or less the only holdouts blocking football's pandemic, Borg-like dominance of all human life. It's not a properly worldwide competition if these huge nations are watching tedious bollocks like cricket and baseball during football's premier showcase.

The difficulty is that often, the Americans simply aren't interested in things they're not instantly brilliant at. IMHO, a sport in which the US can be crushed by Iran (WC 1998) is not one that's going to appeal to Peoria, so seven points out of three games in the group stage, followed by a good win in the second round, are going to be essential if the team are looking for good coverage on ESPN.

Anyway, that's enough tendentious waffle. USA! USA!

*And Sri Lanka, now that I come to think of it.

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