Friday, December 12, 2008

Stop it. Just stop it.

You know, every day, we go through a lot for you.

We plow through endless links and pore over websites, just so you can have the best coverage you deserve. Many of those links are crap, and we don't wish to publicize them any further. Sometimes, though, something breaks through and we feel the need to refute it point by stupid point. Today is one of those days, people. Get excited!

Not to name names, but clicking on the author link of this article, you can see that this is his first, and only effort to date for Soccerlens. I'm not saying that the article stems from n00bishness, I'm just saying that I don't have anything else to compare it to for this writer. Perhaps this is a one-off of misguided opinions. It would be more fun if he were the Skip Bayless of the site, a trove of idiotic rantings, but oh well.

Let's get to it. Since they aren't doing it anymore, we are going to go Fire Joe Morgan all over this thing, 'graph by bloody stupid 'graph.

(Their words in italics and blockquote, mine in fury)

ARTICLE TITLE: The Non-Style of US Soccer

It is understandable that each country has its own style of play, from the hackneyed description of the Brazilians’ samba, to the Italians’ (dolt-headed) defense-minded catenaccio, it’s an interesting combination of anthropology, geography, and political evolution that created these approaches to The Game.
Wow, two whole examples. Since every country has a style of play, why doesn't the author highlight the general dirty play of Guatemala, or the South Pacific laid-back play of Tonga? Instead he picks up on two of the most well-known (and oft-written about) examples.

Let's see if I can explain it to him. Brazil's soccer is linked to Samba because Samba is a national obsession as both a music style and dance. Brazilian football was seen to have some symmetry with these when the country ascended to soccer superiority. They played a beautiful, free-wheeling game which reminded some of the beautiful, free-wheeling dancing that went with the style of music known as Samba. However, since Dunga has been in charge of the national team, this has been replaced with a more disciplined style, with defense no longer an afterthought.

As for the Italians and their catenaccio (meaning padlock), yes, this is an apt comparison. The last two of the titles that allow them to put those nice stars on their shirt can attest to the fact that it works for them. So I don't really think that dolt-headed is an apt secondary description of the Italians style of play. Hell, Greece pulled it off in 2004. It seems to work out that if you do not give up goals, you have a greater shot of winning the match.

And yes, it is interesting how different countries approach the game, but what does an LA rapper have to do with it?

Misplaced capitalization aside, a solid second half of the paragraph after a shaky start.
For many countries, their style of play is as much a symbol of their national identity as other staples of their culture; cuisine, language, art, etc...
Once again, please help me out here. The Dutch had Total Football, but what about the French? Besides winning the '98 World Cup, what about their style of play is so different and noticeable as to be held deep in the breast of every Frenchman? Sure, they have their language, their cuisine and their art, but what is the defining aspect of French play?
Because soccer is the uniting end-all for hundreds of countries on our Big Blue-Green Ball, it might be worthwhile to examine a country’s playing style in terms of their historical circumstances.
Please call Earth a planet. Save your purple prose for something useful. Yes, it might be worthwhile to do what you described. Let's see if you can pull it off.
The problem is that my analysis could lead to a diverging ramble on my own false impressions of national stereotypes, such as: [Nationality] are greasy – their style of play is greasy – therefore, [Nation’s] soccer is cheap and greasy. That was an easy low blow coming from a squirly jerk like myself, but I’m willing to say that Americans are the most hypocritical and destructive force on earth, and the only thing that might keep us from not completely destroying the world - other than Obama - is our weak impact on international soccer.
Come on, we all know you are talking about Italians there. Just say it already.

Then there is the hyperbole. "(T)he only thing that might keep us from... completely destroying the world... is our weak impact on international soccer." I hope he knows that he just wrote that the US's weak standing in worldwide soccer will destroy the world, but since I edited the quote to get rid of that, I will digress. I'm not even touching the classic libtard self-loathing about the US being horrible for everyone else.

Let's just say that there is good and bad in the US being the premier world political power. I hope he gets to the part where he can fully form his idea on how the US winning World Cup 2018 will destroy the earth. That should be fun.
The American soccer system is broken; a dead topic indeed but nonetheless even more glaring when even our most successful MLS executives leave to munch on the greener pitches in Europe (see: Ivan Gazidis). When it’s not just the players but the people in the suits leaving, then how can we keep the bodies and the minds around long enough to create a system that lasts? We United Statesians can’t criticize these moves to money and prestige and better training; das Kapital, no? South America deals with a talent exodus too, but we all know why Argentina and Brazil are consistently incredible: these countries have the infrastructure and enjoy a widespread popularity of the Game. These two factors are crucial to understanding why America, with its hegemonic dominance, has never gained a foothold in something so otherwise universally enjoyed.
I wouldn't say the American soccer system is broken, I would say it is currently run by people who have little interest in making it work in the ways that other nations have. We at UF seem to be united in the fact that the system is wrong and poorly run, but it is not broken, it is just young and needs time to develop. Once a generation of American executives and coaches, as well as players, who grew up knowing soccer from birth get a chance to take over, things will get better.

One of not-that-many US soccer execs who jump ship to Europe. He's Arsene's problem now

As for Gazidis, and the players who move overseas, it is a chance work within systems that have decades of experience doing what they do.

Also, "United Statesians?" Gah.

Argentina, and especially Brazil, do export an amazing number of players. And yes, they have pretty darn good National Teams. But how does the fact that these kids play one game from birth explain why the US does not do the same? The author states it does, then uses his nice Sociology word, but it doesn't connect. The reason why the US is not dominant within the sport at this time is not because we lack soccer infrastructure (I'm quite sure the Brazilian favelas have super-nice pitches that everyone can play on), but because we had other sports to play while Brazil, Argentina and many others were focused on soccer.

It's like India being world-beaters at cricket. When you have a national sport as an obsession, countries won't be dominant at the other sports that are niche ones to them.
The Germans are solid, with limbic motions kept to a minimum. The Argentineans have been training since fetus-status to exert calories only in increments of 10. The U.S. men’s national team’s defining characteristic is their inefficiency and imbalance. Like Car Industry, Like Son; and the saying doesn’t go far enough. Our style is that we have no style. “We are” specifically because “we aren’t.” There has never been a defining feature of the American playing style, and I am willing to support the idea because we’ve been on the scene for a couple of decades now, the American soccer system has aged enough to have settled into this “non-style” of ours. Like a mid-life crisis, we realize that we have life, but something is still missing.
The Germans are Molly Shannon on Seinfeld? P.S. The Limbic System is a set of structures in the brain. I guess that the Germans are all brain-dead on the pitch. I don't even understand what he is saying about the Argentines. Anyone?

This paragraph is so mind-bendingly idiotic that I want to skip it. I understand that the car industry is inefficient, but how the hell is it imbalanced? Has the problem been all along that Ford had too many people working on brakes and not enough people on the engines? And why the hell does this saying you just made up not go far enough? You made it up--run with it.

The author is correct in saying that the US does not have a identifiable style of play. As I put above, neither does France. The Dutch no longer play Total Football, and the Brazilians use less attack and more defending than they used to. I posit that the Americans do have a style: beat up on everyone smaller than you, then watch the manager try to fight through a brain aneurysm as soon as the team is on European soil. Pretty much sums up everything I've see post-'94. Now, that's a problem with the Limbic System.

Mid-life crisis. . . . What? GAH!
The homogeny of other national teams is nowhere to be seen in the U.S. squad. Whereas Spain’s national team consists of Spaniards (or Italy of Italians, Portugal of Portugese, and on and on), the U.S. national team consists of white-bread boys from California alongside the sons of immigrants from Kenya. Again, we have the case of a non-factor (in this case, a lack of homogeny) with which we can clearly define an opposing factor (heterogeneity). The result is that we can use these terms to better understand the characterization of the U.S. national team within a broader classification of geo-political soccer relations (does that even make sense? I hope so).
Here we have it. The most odious bit of the article. I am more convinced than ever that the author just finished his SOC302 final when writing this piece. Yes, America is a hegemony and, for most of us, proudly so. You know what? So is Spain. Besides the Madrid-centric Spaniards, there are also Catalans and Basques within Spanish borders. Have a look here. Italy has a divide as well between North and South. It's not as pronounced as it was in 1990, when southern Italian Toto Schillacci led the World Cup in scoring for the Azzuri, but it's there. As for the Portuguese, their greatest player, historically, is Eusebio. He was born in Mozambique and came to play for Portugal because of colonial ties.

Other successful soccer nations have also incorporated foreign-born players into their national sides. You cannot think of the Dutch side of the '80s and '90s without thinking of the players that came to them from Suriname. Ruud Gullit, Edgar Davids, Patrick Kluivert and Aron Winter to name a few. What about France? The holder of the World Cup's single tournament scoring record is Just Fontaine, who was born in Morocco. Zidane was born in France to Algerian immigrants, an outcast group within the country. Put simply, if he were not a great player, he would be an outcast as well.

Just Fontaine: the world's most famous French soccer player. Except he wasn't French.

Then we take a weird turn, because somehow it is not right to have Landon Donovan and Oguchi Onyewu (I'm guessing this is who he means. Gooch is the son of Nigerian immigrants. Adu is the son of a Ghanaian immigrant. No one else seems to fit). The fact that these two have played together since their time at the old Bradenton Academy as Under 17s doesn't give them enough shared background to play together on the full National Team? What the hell?

Apparently, the author thinks it would be better if all the USNT players came from the same background. Tell me, would France have been better without Zidane? Would Croatia be better without Eduardo? Heck, the USA 1994 team that punched above its weight had seven foreign-born players on the 22 man roster. That team gelled. Why do you assume that Gooch and Landycakes cannot?

Does it make sense? No.
To make sense of these wily words, I’ll define what I mean by "geo-political soccer relations." Mainly, soccer’s relationship with politics can be seen as a catalyst for peace as well as corruption. The symbolism of two countries setting aside their political differences to enjoy a gay ‘ole match was seen most recently in the meeting of Turkey and Armenia for a World Cup qualifier earlier this year. The game itself was secondary to the handshake between Turkey’s president Abdullah Gul and his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sarsgyan, an event that sparked headlines around the world and resulted in the end of 20 years of diplomatic silence between the two countries. In Germany, the World Cup in 2006 acted as The Great Sluice, and for the first time in who-knows-how-many years there were German flags in the streets, a scene previously owned by Hollywood War films.
If soccer is so great at bringing leaders together, then how come the Euro 2008 qualifying matches between Greece and Turkey were such hot affairs? The two countries are constantly sparring over division in Cyprus. The two matches, and the heated exchanges between the teams, did nothing to further relations between the countries.

And why isn't the US best friends with Iran now? We let them win 2-1 in World Cup '98. Shouldn't all animosity between the countries have wilted after that? The fact is that politics, especially when spurned by distrust and misinformation about others intentions, cannot be smoothed over by a game. If it could, we should just send the US team to play an Al Qaeda XI. Everything would be better then.

This article really does bring up a great point, though. It's really too bad that Germans could not display their flag for 60 odd years. Also, it's great that there were no political overtones at all about playing in Germany. Thousands of Dutch wearing orange WWII-style helmets in Germany was just a coincidence.
Conversely, for every one good happening there seem to be dozens that reveal the a priori human vice: the “Calciopoli” in Italy, 2006; Pele and the UNICEF scandal; the pseudo slave-trade of players throughout the world; and so on and so forth. The Brobdingnagian amounts of money involved, as well as the so-large-they’re-comical egos, has created an ersatz world where billionaires compete to outbid their rivals while a community of shady businessmen bet, steal, intimidate, fight and vie for their own gangland glories of erections and pink nips.
Wait. Soccer is not good because dozens more bad things happen than good? Call off that Al Qaeda match. I was wrong. I also like the thought of people using giant-sized checks to pay their players. It's like Happy Gilmore in my head. Blah blah blah. Erections and pink nips? Alright, we've made a kind of pledge to ourselves to clean up language around here, but I can't do it. Goddammit son, say what you mean! Don't go and gussy it up with big words you have a tenuous grasp of. Just fucking say it's a dick-swinging contest where everybody is comparing their latest conquests. Jesus.
It’s an interesting contrast, the black and white pentagons of the ball reflecting the greater good and evil that is as much the game as it is our shame. That’s why it wouldn’t be a good thing if the U.S. were to balloon into a soccer superpower. The money and publicity and pure kitsch filth would remove the water from the fishbowl, a dry-sticky guppy left behind. “But Will, didn’t you want the U.S. to get better,” you say. “Yes,” I’d reply, “I do still want our team to get better, but we can’t do to soccer what we did to Movies and Books and Iraq and the Native Americans (etc).” Not that soccer would be destroyed, and it can’t be much more Nike-ized than it already is; but it would be like having too many obese cooks in the kitchen.
Soccer has not used a black and white hexagonal/pentagonal ball in decades, for longer than the US program has been in its current, semi-viable state. And please, if you are looking for two colors that violently contrast to the eye, anyone with a single Art History course can tell you that the colors to use are red and green. Given the fact that the author pretty much said that blacks and whites don't belong in the US shirt together, because they do not have an understanding of each other, it's a choice he should not have made here.

Let it be known that US Soccer is into eugenics.

Also, what the fuck (sorry, I can no longer hold back) did we do to movies and books? If anything, America changed them from expensive, solipsistic things meant for the wealthy to that which is available for all. Oh, and then there's a fat American joke. It's not the last...
The U.S. national team has the qualities of a worthy team, one that can make it to the quarter- or semi-finals of the next World Cup. Our non-style just needs to become a style, instead of merely assuming the role of one. The team itself is just too scrappy; needs more red meat; a super meal for constant losers named Constance and Luser who have never known a home field advantage. If it could be translated, the U.S. team’s story would make one awfully sappy hallmark card, with glossy sparkle-letters that could make a Topekan fat lady cry, but she’d still never watch a game.

Hey, we're back to the style instead of why America is bad for the world. Non-style becoming a style? I already described the style, the US will be fine in 2010. "Constant losers named Constance and Luser" is a Rivers Cuomo line from when he was 14.

Hey, women in Kansas are fat.

And we are done. No real info on obtaining an identifiable style, and no real insight into the team either. I'll say this: the calling card for the US squad is that it is evolving. The team takes what it learns from all of the new players and the styles that they bring and it incorporates them. I, for one, am hopeful that the last two decades or so of Central American migration will result in a squad that incorporates some of those native-born players and the style they grew up with into the team. If there is one thing that this team needs as much as anything, it's an attitude and bite.

Now, let's discuss for a second what was not discussed--women's soccer. The US was dominant from the outset as women's soccer went international, winning both the first World Cup and the first Olympic gold. That wasn't the end of competitive international women's soccer. If anything, having the US on top made other countries double time their efforts to get better. I think that a strong US men's program would do the same. We would see some more evolution from the Brazils and Italys if the world as they would have to scrap their "traditional" style of play and move toward whatever works.

Yes, that could even be moving towards a non-style for every country.


The NY Kid said...

The tendency for people to write articles using big words in order to make their point seem more plausible is what's really wrong with America.

I feel like that dude sat there with a thesaurus next to him as he wrote.

Mike Georger said...

Solid choice of that douchetastic Rooney ad for the banner on that site. Didn't even have to read it to know the guy is a retard.

Bigus Dickus said...

I couldn't get through it either. U75 needs a medal for perseverance.

Anonymous said...

Just drop the mic and walk off stage.

You've done it.

And quite frankly, I'm in with both feet for any of those fine ladies from the WNT.

Spectator said...

Game set match! Only thing I can possibly add is that, next up, the author should discuss the thesis that pseudo-intellectual ramblings about culture always devolve into quasi-racism. I believe this is how the Third Reich started.

Andrew said...

. . . and it's how the Third Reich will rise again!!!

/clears throat

Good show umlaut75.

Mike Georger said...

Wouldn't that be the Fourth Reich?

Mike Georger said...

Look, I'm Hitler, I can't change that. I've just gotta go out there and be the best Hitler I can be.

Lingering Bursitis said...

I will never say no to a good Mr. Show reference... bravo, Georger

Anonymous said...

"Time Machinnnne. The paper loves my Time Machine. Travel back in tiiiiiiimmmmme!"

Precious Roy said...

Good, sure... but it was no "Jeepers Creepers."

Mike Georger said...

Can I get some quarters?

Anonymous said...

Lest we forget it was Mr Show that launched The D.

Andrew said...

The Third Reich lies dormant.


Lingering Bursitis said...

Georger: you should ask the fine works at the Car Wash Change Thief Action Squad if they could spare a few

Andrew said...

My dog has no nose . . .

Mike Georger said...

You're making me a little nervous over there Hiltersaurus. If I go upstairs and you're rolling tanks through my living room and annexing my kitchen, we're gonna have words.

Ahmed Bilal said...

Since you went through so much trouble, here's his first article:

As for the banner comment, I take it you're not a fan...

And as for that comment a couple of days ago on how easy it was to get vetted for SL, if you read the page itself writers are vetted based on past writing experience and their proposals for articles / columns.

Mind you, if you have a problem with the site itself then feel free to email me directly, glad to hear (constructive) criticism at any time.

Aaron said...

Thank you for taking him to task. That article was just a non-coherent vomit of all stereotypes without considering facts.

This Italy, so known for "catenaccio," played a 4-3-1-2 at WC06, with damn near every player getting on the scoreboard. But you're right, forcing a style on a team is important. Over wins. We should play silky like the Portuguese. Oh wait, we don't have anyone who can. We should play defensive like the Italians. Oh wait, it's boring and evil.
Make up your goddamn mind.