Wednesday, June 16, 2010

World Cup: Not feeling good about Friday

I tend to have a negative outlook when it comes to the US Men's National Team.  Sometimes my negativity is totally unjustified.  You see, it's a survival technique that I've learned from years of having my hopes dashed when the Yanks have come up short in big games. 

When I started getting that feeling of dread shortly after I finished celebrating the good result against England (and no, it wasn't just a hangover), I thought to myself that it's a shame I can't be optimistic. 

I should feel great in front of Friday's match against the small eastern European country, Slovenia, right?  Coming off the big result against England, the Yanks are confident.  They looked just as dangerous as the Limeys.  In their press conferences they've been saying the right things.  They seem focused and ready to roll.  And on paper, the Yanks are favored, but should they be? 

But then, I start thinking of when the US has played eastern European teams in the World Cup, and I couldn't remember a single good result.  "That's just my doom and gloom", I thought.  However, this time, it may not be unjustified.  

Let's take a look at the USA's World Cup results when playing eastern European teams.

1990 USA 1:5 Czechoslovakia  Click the link to watch the full match. Keep an eye out for RCU coach Desmond Armstrong playing right back for the USA.  Warning! SoccerRocker hairdos in full effect for the Yank players!

1994 USA 0:1 Romania Petrescu shot beats Meola to the near post! (Goal at 1:35 in this video)

1998 USA 0:1 Yugoslavia Komjenovic cleans up the rebound.

2002 USA 1:3 Poland The USA nearly blows their chance to move onto the second round.

2006 USA 0:3 Czech Republic Jan Koller strikes early and the rest was the Czechs.

That's 0 wins, 0 ties, and 5 losses.  Not a lot to be hopeful for, is there?

Well, maybe I'm being unfair.  Let's take a look at the results of the friendly matches we played against eastern European squads in the run up to the 2010 World Cup.  These are matches against teams that play a style similar to Slovenia.  In the two recent matches against eastern European opponents...

USA 0:1 Slovakia  Yanks in Europe take one on the chin from the Slovaks 
USA 2:4 Czech Republic Bench warmers score two, that's positive! :)

...Uh-oh!  "O" fer two!!! 

I'm not trying to put a downer on your day.  I'm just trying to point out that there may be cause for pessimism.

At least now, I feel better because if history is to judge, the Yanks are clearly not supposed to win this game, and I have a built-in excuse for my pessimism.  And if the USA does lose to Slovenia, I can just shrug my shoulders and think to myself,  "We weren't supposed to beat them anyway!" 

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