Progress Made

 

Team USA, Silver Medal Winners, 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup

Team USA, Silver Medal Winners, 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup

For those who have followed the U.S. Men’s Soccer for the past 10 years or more, this past week’s results at the FIFA Confederations Cup have to be a move forward. One thing that should be learned by now is: Becoming a world power in soccer takes time. And the 2009 Confeds Cup was another step in that direction. It has the potential to be one of the larger steps we’ve taken, but only time will tell if that’s the case. I expect our team to compete against every team they play. And they showed that when they put their mind to it, they can. Also, they showed that if there is no desire to challenge every ball and have all 11 players hustle on both ends of the pitch, we’ll get the snot beat out of us.

 

I am disappointed that we did not finish our last half of play well. It’s tough to be up 2-0 at halftime and lose 3-2, even if your opponent is 5 time World Cup Champion, Brazil. I do believe that Brazil may be the only team in the world that could have come back to beat us after being down 2 goals. Hopefully, that game will be another learning experience that makes our team better. I have to give a little credit to Brazil and the class they showed to our team after winning. And as a follower of Jesus Christ, it’s cool to see another evangelical believer not ashamed of his faith (Kaka).

 

Kaka celebrating after winning the Confeds Cup Final vs. USA

Kaka celebrating after winning the Confeds Cup Final vs. USA

I now have a better idea of who I want to see on the World Cup squad for 2010. In my opinion here are some names we should see next summer (& my thought of each player in this tournament) if injury does not play a role: Landon Donavan (for the 1st time showed the leadership skills we’ve been waiting for); Clint Dempsey (still a little lazy on defense, but always brings moments of brillance w/ the ball); Michael Bradley (understands the game as well as any player on our team); Benny Feilhaber (sees things no one else sees); Oguchi Onyewu (a beast in our back line); Jay Demerit (earned a spot beside Onyewu in my opinion); Jonathan Spector (right back should be his position to lose now); Freddy Adu (I know he didn’t get play time, but if we’re going to win one of the next 3 or 4 World Cups he’ll be a huge reason why.); Jozy Altidore (Truly is our most pure forward, but he still lacks hustle and ball control.); Carlos Bocanegra (I really liked him at left back); Tim Howard (looked shaky at times, but will still make the team). Maurice Edu (if he recovers from injury well, he should be a shoe in for our team).

A list of players that are in the mix in my opinion: Charlie Davies; Ricardo Clark; Jonathan Bornstein; Heath Pearce; Steve Cherundolo; Frankie Hejduk; Brian Ching; Brad Guzan; Conor Casey; Jose Fransisco Torres; Danny Szetela; Robbie Rogers.

Players that in my opinion shouldn’t be on the roster ever again unless there are miracles: DeMarcus Beasley; Eddie Johnson; and possibly Sasha Kljestan. Bottom line with Beasley and Johnson: You shouldn’t be playing for the national team if you don’t get play time for your club.

We’ll see a totally different team in July during the Gold Cup. Here’s the roster for this North American Tournament:

U.S. ROSTER BY POSITION 
GOALKEEPERS (3): Jon Busch (Chicago Fire), Troy Perkins (IK Start), Luis Robles (FC Kaiserslautern) 
DEFENDERS (7): Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96), Jimmy Conrad (Kansas City Wizards), Clarence Goodson (IK Start), Jay Heaps (New England Revolution), Chad Marshall (Columbus Crew), Michael Parkhurst (FC Nordsjaellands), Heath Pearce (Hansa Rostock) 
MIDFIELDERS (8): Davy Arnaud (Kansas City Wizards), Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Colin Clark (Colorado Rapids), Sam Cronin (Toronto FC), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders), Stuart Holden (Houston Dynamo), Logan Pause (Chicago Fire), Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew) 
FORWARDS (5): Freddy Adu (AS Monaco), Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo), Kenny Cooper (FC Dallas), Charlie Davies (Hammarby IF), Santino Quaranta (D.C. United) 

This hopefully will be where Freddy Adu has his coming out party!? It’s gonna be a great chance to see some not so well known names in the American pool of players and give them a chance to make a bid for the World Cup squad. The only player on this roster that saw significant playing time in the Confeds Cup is Charlie Davies. GO USA!!!

USA Soccer Chants…

This first video gives you a look at the Fumen of the Apocalypse upclose (The Fumen represent Death, Famine, War, and Conquest). Conquest (White) carries a Beau; War (Red) carries a sword for pentration of the defense; Famine (Black) carries scales to balance the anger; and Death (Pale) is followed by Hades. We’re were randomly caught on film Bull Rushing the Streets of Germany in 2006. These videos are some USA Soccer chants to help us get angry for Sunday’s game. You may even recognize some of the people in these videos. Lookout for the bare breasted Viking.

Because We Can

 

The Goal Scorers: Jozy Altidore & Clint Dempsey for the USA both scored to give the Americans a 2-0 win over the #1 team in the world, Spain.

The Goal Scorers: Jozy Altidore & Clint Dempsey for the USA both scored to give the Americans a 2-0 win over the #1 team in the world, Spain.

Sunday, the BOYS did the impossible; willing their way into the semifinals of the Confeds Cup in South Africa. Today, the American BOYS did what most would have called UNTHINKABLE. They beat Spain 2-0 to advance to the Final of the Confeds Cup on Sunday. It truly can be summed up in one word:  HEART. Yes, Spain is more talented, better coached, more experienced, larger, faster, and undefeated since the 2006 World Cup. However, the USA showed more heart today. There’s really not anything else for me to say. Here’s the only words that come to mind: Cuneiform, Bull Rush, Jerky, Garcon, Woodwork, Damage, will, force, servicia laria, Pass off the post, loping, L, Clint “Eastwood” Dempsey, God Bless America, Uppers, Bang the B Button, Shin toe Fu, Fuboys, Pilgrimage, Nectar, Roxanne, 1 meter, possession, nutter, aggregate, goodies, Fuonomy, anger, Weinerschnitzel, space, FrankenEck, isms, etc. Now, I just want to run around and blow a Vuvuzela. 

 

USA fan blowing horn (otherwise known as a Vuvuzela) in the country of it's origin, South Africa.

USA fan blowing horn (otherwise known as a Vuvuzela) in the country of it's origin, South Africa.

Against All Odds

 

Clint Dempsey & Jonathan Spector celebrating

Clint Dempsey & Jonathan Spector celebrating

Coming into today, one could easily say that they were more disappointed in US Soccer than they’ve been since the horrible performance in the 1998 World Cup in France. After seeing our Men’s National Soccer Team play 2 very disappointing matches earlier this week, NO one could have predicted what happened today. The US lost on Monday to Italy 3-1 and lost to Brazil on Thursday 3-0. In order for the US to advance to the semifinal round, Brazil would have to beat Italy 3-0 and the US would have to beat Egypt 3-0. And guess what happened. WE DID IT!!! And Brazil did it! I can’t believe it.

Today was one of the most exciting days of soccer for a US fan and one of the worse days for Egyptian & Italian fans. Today’s win is probably the most important decision for the US Men’s Soccer Team since beating Mexico in the 2002 World Cup to advance to the Quarterfinals. Winning this game today could be the difference in the US being a 2 seed in World Cup 2010 rather than a 3 or 4 seed. And that’s huge. I’m speechless. I have no analysis other than, when our American team plays with the kind of toughness and determination they did today, they can beat any team in the world. We have the talent now to compete with any nation in the world. It all comes down to heart.

The majority of the world has developed a deep hatred of our country because of our power militarily and success economically. The one thing other countries have always enjoyed doing is dominating us in their sport, Soccer. Few things are more enjoyable to see than a totally demoralized country after we’ve beaten them or helped eliminate them from an important tournament. Many may disagree with what I’m about to say, but until you’ve seen the love other countries have for soccer you really can’t understand (It may not make sense, but that’s the way it is. In other words, Beating Iran in soccer would hurt them more than dropping a bomb on them.). In my opinion, beating a team like Egypt in soccer the way we did is as hard, if not more difficult for them to deal with than a military defeat. Without doubt, the whole nation of Egypt and Italy will be in mourning for weeks after what transpired today. For us, it’s no big deal. But to a large portion of the world, soccer truly is their greatest avenue of patriotism.

Hopefully, we’ll see the same kind of heart from the US Team on the field Wednesday at 1:25 p.m. when our boys take the #1 team in the world: Spain. Again, no one will give us a chance, but if we play like we did today, we’ll at least make it a competitive match.

A Winning Attitude

 

This is on the wall as the team leaves the locker room and heads down stairs to the practice field.

This is on the wall as the team leaves the locker room and heads down stairs to the practice field.

 It’s always hard to predict how well a team is going to do in it’s first year with a new coach. But, I think we shouldn’t be surprised if our guys win more games than anyone else is giving them a chance to win, including MSU fans. There’s no doubt they have a winning attitude. I know everybody says, “That’s easy to do when you haven’t played a game yet.” And that’s true. But there’s something different. Something I’ve not sensed in Starkville in a long time, if ever. Yes, Jackie Sherrill made us believe and prove we could win. I can’t put my finger on it yet, but there’s a unique expectation I see in the players and coaches. One thing is not only are they happy to be where they are, but they are working relentlessly daily to be champions. As much talk as we heard about discipline when Coach Croom was here, we really never saw it on the field consistently. I expect that to change immediately. It may not result in wins at first, but we’ll see a much different attitude about losing as well now. Maybe I’m a little too excited because I’ve just spent some time around the players and coaches last week. But something is drastically different. And I have a really good feeling about it.

Does anyone know if Coach Mullen is going to open up practices to the public? If so, I think it’d be great if some of us could plan on showing up one day to encourage the team with our presence and get to know one another as well in person.

If you can’t read the photos, let me know and I’ll type the words out under comments. I took these photos with my phone so they’re a little fuzzy.

Bulldog Creed at entrance of Locker Room.

Bulldog Creed at entrance of Locker Room.

A Tradition of Scott Field (Family) Memories Continues

Friday, the Little Dawgs wrapped up their Mississippi State Football Camp with a memorable experience on Scott Field. The Little Dawgs loaded up on the Mississippi State Buses and arrived at the Junction about 3:20 p.m. They were greeted by Dawg fans and parents lined up and down the path to the locker. Plenty of cowbells, shakers, and high fives were there to greet them when they arrived. Parents and fans then made their way onto Scott Field to form another line while the boys were given a tour of the locker room and get lined up again. Coach Mullen came onto the field and then Jack Cristil introduced each boy as he entered the field. 

The last time I remember walking across Scott Field was in 1994 after we upset a Peyton Manning led Tennessee team. We won the game with a TD on 4th down. At the final whistle my brother and I jumped the fence and ran onto the field before being escorted off by security.

Friday gave me the feeling that many more memories (GOOD) are to come. The only great ones we’ve had the last couple of years were the 2007 Egg Bowl and Bama game. My favorite game at Scott Field was probably winning the Egg Bowl Jackie Sherrill’s first year. Snow flurries and Rebels knowing we’ll give them a tough game for the next few years. What’s your favorite Scott Field memory?

Below is a video of Coach Hudspeth and Coach Mullen talking with parents at the end of camp.

Little Dawg Football Camp

 

Connor & Coach Mullen

Connor & Coach Mullen

Man, I’m in Bulldog heaven today! This camp is fantastic. As we arrived at the Football practice facility to register, all the assistant coaches were there to greet us and get know all the parents and kids. After registration each kid got his picture made with Coach Mullen in the film study room. And what a nice room it was. All the new logos on the walls and plenty to remind you of what it takes to be a champion. Coach Mullen gave a great pep talk to begin the camp with all the kids (about 105) gathered up with parents behind. Coach talked about how each kid could be home playing video games, but they a made a choice to work hard and sweat the next two days. He then preached about how important it is to be the best you can be in everything you do: School, church, piano, obeying parents, and playing sports.  Direct quote: “True Bulldogs work to be a champion in all that they do.”

Then the kids went to the practice field. Coach Balis began with taking them through the same warmups and flex stretches the Dawgs do before every practice. Then Coach Torbush taught them the theme for the camp: “Yes Sir, No Sir, Hats Off, Hustle!”  They then worked on Defense fundamentals & techniques: tackling, recovering fumbles, catching tip balls, and clubbing & stripping the football. They were divided into teams and played Dawg Ball (basically backyard football; shirts and skins). 

The kids had lunch in the Locker Room. Locker Room is awesome. All the recent Egg Bowl Victories are on the wall.

All our coaches are very impressive. I’ve had a chance to talk with all of them one on one already and look forward to more. This afternoon they’ll watch a Bulldog highlight video, warm-up, work on offensive fundamentals, play more Dawg Ball, then end with special teams work. 

I did mention to Coach Mullen our idea about having a set time the first game for everyone to ring their cowbells. He liked the idea and is going to get me in contact with one of the spirit groups so they can organize it.

Tomorrow we’ll end the camp with the parents in the Junction at 3:15 ringing our cowbells as the Little Dawg enter the stadium. Then Jack Cristil will be there to announce each of our kids names as they enter Scott Field.