Thanks Perry, for annihilating traffic!
Lollapalooza Chicago 2017.
Thanks Perry, for annihilating traffic!
Super-honored to be a part of Illinois tourism. My theory is they were tricked.
George Mishalow, who passed away recently, was a coach of mine many years ago. I played for him with Busch Soccer Club, during my freshman year in high school.
At that time in my life, I never wanted to play pro soccer. Never thought of it. At that time, the US didn’t have an outdoor league. It just wasn’t an option. All I wanted from soccer was Busch Soccer Club and Indiana University, or UCLA. I didn't care about girlfriends or a career in my adult life, nothing like that. Only thoughts about wearing that uniform. To me, that was the equivalent of playing pro.
Before trying out for Busch, I had about two years experience in SLYSA (St. Louis Youth Soccer Association), the top league in the US. I was an outsider, with a team from Cape Girardeau, and we were number one in SLYSA, kicking ass left and right. There were many teams that were equally talented: Busch, Scott Gallagher, Coke, Pepsi, River City, Johnny Mac (super-nice guys). Yet, I never wanted to play with any of them, accept Busch. They had Soccer Park (where St. Louis University and the national team held games), four uniforms, a major sponsor, great players, and a stellar reputation. Back to Soccer Park: there were four or five fields all in beautiful condition, a concession stand, a balcony overlooking the fields, conference rooms, bleachers, lights, a parking lot. I forget exactly, but back then Busch and Scott Gallagher had the most national club titles in youth soccer history. I think Busch may have had the most. Regardless, when I tried out as a fourteen-year-old that’s all I wanted. It was the first of three tryouts, the only one I could attend. I'd been away from SLYSA for two full years, playing for my hometown, Carbondale. Essentially, my mom got a job in St. Louis to further my soccer ambitions. (Carbondale had many good players but it was the backwater of American soccer, the backwater of Illinois soccer, the backwater of Southern Illinois soccer.) When George called me up to the top of the bleachers that early morning, telling me he wanted to give me a uniform, I couldn’t believe it, and played it cool. Holding in my emotion, I might have come across like, yeah, sure, whatever. Though I’m pretty sure I was respectful, just caught in a daze. I had wanted to make the team but actually making the team was something else altogether. A dream coming true is hard to explain. I have George to thank for that.
Being an outsider – which I was for the vast majority of my soccer-playing days – is very difficult. Often times, if not all the time, you can be the best player, but if you’re from outside the group it’s very difficult to get in. Why? Because the insiders are territorial and use their connections to keep their place on the team. Team sports are tough that way; you need the cooperation of the other guys to play at your best. George dismissed all that outsider-insider stuff. To his credit, he took this nobody from Carbondale and made him the starting center midfielder for one of the best youth programs in the country. As a result, to my recollection, one player, who was very talented, quit. Imagine that, George had every reason to play it safe, with players he’d coached for many years, with relationships, and as far as I could tell he pushed me into the inside of that group without hesitation.
At a tournament in Cincinnati, George and I stayed in the same room. He was all class. He talked to me about college, and where I wanted to go. To my recollection, no other coach had talked about college with me. A few, probably, but not in the encouraging way George did. Kids need that. Unfortunately, soon after, I began to go off track, straying away from college as an option.
I suppose I would’ve continued playing with George and that team, but after a season there was a takeover, with another coach coming in, bringing his players, causing the team to disband. I believe only one player stuck around. The offices of Busch contacted me about returning my uniform. My attitude was, “Egggh, you can go straight to hell.” I wasn’t giving up those shirts for anything. Still have them. An old friend of mine hounded me for the Busch jacket for years.
I learned a lot from George. I remember him telling us how he wanted to play (paraphrasing): “We’re going to have the defense of Uruguay, the passing of Germany, the flair of Brazil,” and something else, if I could only remember. He knew his craft and really had us performing well. After playing with a myriad of youth teams – Carbondale, Cape Girardeau, Granite City, Troy, Busch, Edwardsville, Collinsville and maybe something else, I’m forgetting – my best experience would probably have been with George and Busch Soccer Club.
About a year or two ago, after my book came out, I caught up with George via email. He had some thoughtful things to say about modern soccer. As usual.
The US team should receive criticism not because of any dislike for the team, but, rather, because they need improvement.
Forget anything pre-1950. Since then, the US has only made the quarter finals of a World Cup. That's it. Nothing else. That's failure. And the team is no where near winning a World Cup.
The US looked very good against Costa Rica in the Gold Cup 2017, in the 2-0 semi final victory. Great possession, patience. Nagbe and Bradles were brilliant. But that US team ain't winning a World Cup,. Not even close. Why? Because Bradley, Arriola, Nagbe and Dempsey don't have enough of Bradley, Arriola, Nagbe and Dempsey. Add Politic and Wood and it's still not enough.
Only one or two weak positions in a lineup will destroy a team's chances. Unfortunately, the US has a habit of four or five weak positions in a lineup. Not because we don't have players available. Because we choose not to combine the right players together.
It's the "Fred Astaire Syndrome." Nagbe, Pulisic and a few others are thinking players, with passing ability, and dribbling ability. Like Dempsey or Donovan. They're the Fred Astaires on the field. However, when you play it safe and think defensively and combine them with claudes nothing will get done. And a World Cup title will always be out of reach. Gold Cup titles are nice. But the grand prize requires a different approach...a different way of thinking.
I was asked about the current status of the Gold Cup. It would be prudent to reflect. However, Trump is looking into Pardoning himself and OJ's back on TV.
So you have a great idea? It’s probably not. Stick to what you know.
...If what you know is only a bad idea, then give it your best shot.
Dempsey Wood Nguyen
Pulisic Torres Nagbe
Shea Ream Bradley Yedlin
Whoever (Who really cares?)
...All right, Howard
(assuming players are injury-free)
Arriola (LM, F)
Zusi (LM, LD)
Lletget (RM, LM)
Kitchen (RM, LM)
Freddy Adu (F)
The US will never be there* unless they can out-possess the giants of possession - Germany, Span, Brazil.
* A team that can actually, verifiably, win the World Cup.
The Four Year Review: America's Quest for the Cup
United Statnes vs Mexico
World Cup Qualifier
The amazing run of the USMNT, on their quest to qualify for Sussia 2018, has four more games. With a relative easy win over Trinidad and Tobago on June 8, the US got an important result - a 1-1 draw - with Mexico on June 11, in the Azteca Stadium, thanks to a chip shot from Bradley, and good all-around defense.
The last four qualification games are in September and October (with the possibility of a playoff with an Asian team, depending how these remaining games go).
Criticism would fall - yet again - on the aberrant lineup choices. The "change" that came with Bruce has amounted to much of the same under Klinsmann. In that, there are a few good players, with other mysterious choices. But, that's been the case with US soccer long before Klinsmann came around. Maybe, just maybe, if the right players were all thrown out there at the same time, something magical would happen...and success the US team has had up to this point would suffer by comparison.
Still in play, the US is looking good. Much more on the way.
Argentina & Ecuador
As the 2018 World Cup Qualifications gradually draw to a close, big games to watch will be Argentina and Ecuador, each playing separately in August, but their results will be very important for the last spot in the South American group. Argentina, with all their talent, led by Messi, have a tricky road ahead in these dying moments of qualifications. As things are right now, they look as if they'll go onto possibly play the Oceania representative for a Playoff series to enter Russia 2018. Who would of thought they'd be in such a predicament? But, there's still an opportunity for them to make it without the Oceania Playoff. Regardless, it's making for high drama in a few months. Much more to come.
US Soccer News
The US also has a big game coming up, this June 2017. They're definitely in dire straits mode, as things are winding down. Their big moment will be with Mexico, very shortly.
For more book info, visit:
Meyer & Meyer Sport
Cardinal Publishers Group
For true US soccer fans who are on the fence with the team's direction, who are concerned with certain lineup decisions, who wonder if our defenders possess the right poise in simple situations, who wonder if our defenders are familiar with the word poise, who wonder if maybe Klinsmann was accurate in his assessment of rotating 500 defenders to find the right one, this clip might be for you... Watch closely, or casually, it's really doesn't matter; you'll get it. You might notice big blunders and little blunders which lead to the big blunders, such as: Why did he pass it so hard? Why didn't he trap it and pass back to the keeper? Why didn't he trap it at all? How is this possible?
But, fear not. World Cup Qualifiers continue. The team is currently on a comeback, looking forward to Mexico, in Mexico, in Mexico City, after a brief rest. That should be good.
(NS) refers to "Non-Soccer" related blog entries, stories and essays.
ALL WRITTEN WORK COPYRIGHT SHANE STAY 2014-2017