The Summer of Disrespect for U.S. Soccer continues this afternoon in Brazil when the American side takes on Belgium in the round of 16 in this 2014 World Cup.
Listening to and/or reading the work of all the “experts” out there, I don’t know why we’re bothering to show up for this one.
Then again, those are the same goofs who proclaimed Group G “the group of death” (which, it wasn’t) and predicted the demise of the U.S. before they played Ghana (“Oh my, how are we EVER going to beat them?”) and Portugal (“They have Ronaldo, no way we can beat that guy.”).
Folks talk about these teams like Ghana and Portugal and Belgium like they are perennial World Cup contenders who have a birthright to be in the Final every four years.
As we have seen with the likes of Chile, Greece and Algeria — who took Brazil, Costa Rica and Germany to the wire before falling, these teams are extraordinarily close to one another and if a team really wants to drag the game down and play for overtime and/or penalty kicks, it’s very possible to make that happen no matter who the opponent is that day.
I have as many concerns about Belgium as they have about the United States, which is to say either of these teams could win this afternoon and I wouldn’t at all be surprised.
But, I expect the United States to win.
In fact, to me, they SHOULD win.
They should beat Belgium today and move on.
If they don’t, this World Cup has been a failure.
Yes, yes, yes, I know: Italy, England and Spain all went home after group play. That’s true World Cup failure.
No, that’s World Cup disaster. Coaching staffs get canned over that kind of losing.
Reaching the round of 16 and losing to Belgium? That’s failure.
We’ve come along far enough now that getting a gracious scheduling break like Belgium needs to be taken advantage of by our American team.
This is a game the U.S. should win.
If not, we’re just like Greece, Algeria and Nigeria: Piano movers, not piano players.
NOTE: An old favorite returns tomorrow to this space. A few years ago, on Wednesday’s, I did a piece here called “21 Questions” in which you, the listeners/readers, etc. sent me questions you wanted answered in this space. We’re going to change it a little bit…to “11 Questions”, but all you have to do is either post a question here in the comments section or just e-mail me your question (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I’ll try to answer it here tomorrow in Drew’s Morning Dish.