From College to the Pros - The US soccer ladder

Monday, June 29, 2009

US Men Impress In South Africa...

While this post won't be specifically about college players moving into the professional ranks I will try to work the theme of the blog in here. However, I mainly want to get my thoughts on paper regarding the US' improbable run to the final of FIFA's Confederations Cup.

Here is a question to the US soccer fans reading...what were your expectations going into the 2009 Confederations Cup? Did anyone expect them to reach the final? I didn't. I expected the results we saw against Italy and Brazil in group play and that is where I figured this would end. But it didn't, while the US did get blasted in the first two matches they came back against a strong Egyptian team and did enough to move on. The circumstances were somewhat similar to how the US got out of their group in the 2002 World Cup if I recall correctly. Unfortunately for American soccer fans we're becoming accustomed to backing into the next round, but I'll take what I can get.

When the US did sneak out of the groups and into a match against European champs Spain, I once again doubted the US' ability to advance. I almost went to a Rapids game instead of watching the match on DVR, however circumstances forced me to miss the Rapids game and I ignored omnipresent media and was delighted to watch the US beat Spain. That was the upset to end all upsets...until Brazil beat the hosts to set up a final that would require an even greater feat.

The US has only beat Brazil once on the soccer field and that was our home field during the Gold Cup. For those looking for a comparison between the Gold Cup and the Confederations Cup, there isn't one. The Gold Cup is our region's championship (which invited Brazil the year the US beat them). Brazil came into that event with an undoubtedly different agenda than the one they took into the Confederations Cup, FIFA's championship for regional champions. Yesterday the US needed to upset Brazil, away from home, in a tournament with an internationally recognized prize.

It is a game and anything can happen, but I certainly didn't expect the US to beat Brazil so when the stars and stripes walked into the locker room up 2-0 at the half I was shocked. I had flashbacks to Wednesday night and I thought it was really possible. Well, we all know what happened next and it sucked to witness, but at the end of the day at least I have the memory of going up two - zero against Brazil...the best.

I am kind of disappointed to see all of the facebook posts about the US team chocking yesterday. The US didn't choke, they just couldn't achieve a second miracle in a row.

This tournament proved we can compete, we can come back from being down in the group, we can beat the big teams. We're 11 months out from the 2010 World Cup and I think we all believe we'll be able to advance out of the group. FIFA will have to take the US more seriously during the draw so that we don't get another group of death. When we match up with Spain in the second round there will be hope as opposed to pessimism. I'm hopeful going into the rest of qualification and next summer. I hope you are too.

I said I'd weave in the blog's theme, so here we are the players who played college ball and are now performing on the world's stage:
Oguchi Onyewu - Clemson
Jay DeMerit - University of Illinois Chicago
Carlos Bocanegra - UCLA
Benny Feilhaber - UCLA
Jonathan Bornstein - UCLA
Ricardo Clark - Furman
Conor Casey - Portland
Clint Dempsey - Furman
Charlie Davies - Boston College
Sacha Kljestan - Seton Hall
Heath Pearce - Portland
Marvell Wynne - UCLA
Brad Guzan - South Carolina
Luis Robles - Portland

So there you go kids, if you want to be on the national team go to UCLA. Seriously though, while it is probably not statistically significant it is cool to see the programs putting kids through to the top. Also, while not statistically significant, most of these guys left college early to pursue their game, so it probably gives credence to the argument for certain kids with gobs of talent to either skip school, or stay a short time.

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