Every four years, American soccer fans are getting better at agonizing over the World Cup. As I write in my new book, eight years ago in Germany I noticed the social media raging over the lineups of Bruce Arena. This was progress as a soccer nation.
Four years ago in South Africa I was aware of how fans exulted – electronically -- over the 91st-minute goal produced by the law firm of Howard, Donovan, Altidore, Dempsey and Donovan.
Now the greatest angst is over the exclusion of Donovan – that is not going away easily -- but there is also the growing sophistication on the fan sites about the fine-tuning being performed by Jurgen Klinsmann in three domestic friendlies. On Sunday, fans had the Wall Street buzz of watching the players' stock go up and down, virtually by the touch.
I was not immune as I watched Tim Chandler playing catchup at left back, getting a look in place of DaMarcus Beasley, who is a decade older. Chandler, who is right-footed, is more comfortable at right back but Klinsmann thinks he needs to upgrade at left back.
At one point Chandler darted forward, followed the play, caught up with a nice pass toward the left corner and centered it admirably, as the USA scored on a flubbed poke by Clint Dempsey.
That will raise Chandler’s stock, I thought.
But Chandler faded back to insecurity. In the 90th minute he made a mistake that led to a penalty goal for Turkey in a 2-1 victory for the USA.
Oops, a late-afternoon slide, as they say on the market channels.
I’m still a Beasley supporter. He plays the whole field and gives everything.
The USA will play one more friendly before heading to Brazil. The fans will be watching the market fluctuations.
In other countries, there is gnashing of teeth over exclusions and inclusions. Giuseppe Rossi, from New Jersey, did not make the Italian squad for the second straight World Cup. The kid tossed and lost in choosing his Italian passport over his American passport. There is still time for injuries to ruin four years, as Mexican and Italian players discovered this weekend.
To get into this growing American fascination with the rhythms of the World Cup, consult your favorite fan site, as well as:
“They may hate the cultural context they now find themselves teaching in, but they love their work. The Achilles’ heel of schoolteachers, one all too easily exploited by politicians, is that they love their students.”
(One of the best reads in the NYT these days is Margaret Renkl, in Nashville. In her latest post, Renkl describes the dedicated core of “born teachers” – the majority, she submits.)
(From Madeleine Albright in one of her final interviews in February):
“Putin is small and pale,” I wrote, “so cold as to be almost reptilian.” He claimed to understand why the Berlin Wall had to fall but had not expected the whole Soviet Union to collapse. “Putin is embarrassed by what happened to his country and determined to restore its greatness.” – Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, recalling her first meeting with the relatively unknown Vladimir Putin in 2000. – The New York Times, Feb. 23, 2022.