After watching the U.S. national team beat Egypt yesterday and improbably advance to the semi-finals of the Confederations Cup, I feel it is important to give this victory some perspective.
Was yesterday's win nice? Yes.
Did the USMNT show loads of heart, determination, fight, and grit? Yes.
Did they thoroughly outplay the Egyptians? Yes.
Am I going to take back all of my scathing comments about Bob Bradley, the USSF, and soccer in this country? Absolutely not.
Sure, I could say Bob Bradley inspired this team to its 3-0 victory over a wounded Egyptian team.
Sure, I could say the U.S. team turned it around after two uninspiring performances against Italy and Brazil. But, I won't.
If you think I'm writing this article because I have some sort of misguided hatred toward the U.S. men's national team, you are wrong. However, you would be right if you realize that my years of frustration with soccer in this country will not be wiped away by a 3-0 victory over an Egyptian team missing its two top strikers.
Just as I expected, today, I look online and see many articles about how the U.S. pulled off a stunning win and miraculously advanced to the next round of the Confederations Cup.
Exactly what I feared most.
Of course yesterday I was rooting as hard as I ever have for the U.S. team to score two more goals after I saw Brazil was winning 3-0 over Italy. As a matter of fact, I could barely even watch injury time I was so nervous.
However, I could not help but think that if the U.S. somehow advanced to the next round, Bob Bradley (and the U.S. team) would be absolved of their recent string of poor performances that go beyond the Confederations Cup.
In no way should this be the case. This happens all too often in this country—one victory and all is forgotten.
This victory, and advancing to the next round, should be kept in keen perspective. The U.S. needed a miracle and got a miracle. Let's not forget if Italy hadn't turned in one of their worst performances in recent history, the U.S. would be out of this tournament.
And, yes the U.S. did take care of their end of the bargain by beating Egypt 3-0. However, really think about the victory.
We should be beating teams like the Egyptians. We have been able to beat teams like them for years. The next step for soccer in this country is to not only disperse of teams like Egypt, and be competitive with top countries like Italy and Brazil—but beat them.
Thus, we have to ask the question: Is Bob Bradley really the guy to lead this team to victory against the class of the world? That question should have already been answered after the string of poor performances against Costa Rica, Honduras, Italy, and Brazil.
Let's face it, the Egyptian team is ranked 40th by Fifa's world rankings (although I take these with a grain of salt, it's pretty much the only way to compare the two teams), while the U.S. is ranked 14th.
Should Bob Bradley's job really be safe after beating a team 26 spots below them, and ranked lower than Chile, Serbia, and Honduras?
To get soccer in this country to the next level the answer has to be no. No longer can poor performances against top teams be excused and strong performances against third and fourth-tier teams be used as signs of the U.S.'s progress.
Would Italian or Brazilian fans be satisfied with winning one game in the Confederations Cup? Obviously not. So why should American fans?
For me, it will take a string of quality, competitive performances, along with wins against top teams, while consistently beating the teams below us, to suggest that soccer in this country has finally turned the corner.
And, if anything less than that is accepted by the USSF, the U.S. team, the U.S. coaches, the soccer media in this country, and the American fans, then this team will continue to frustrate. Furthermore, the United States will remain in its place as an in-between soccer nation.
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