Monday, June 29, 2009

No glory in choking

About ten minutes into church on Sunday, I got a text from Aaron: “Are you watching this?”

“This,” of course, was the Confederations Cup final, where the US were playing Brazil.

“No, I’m at church. Recording it. Will watch when I get home.”

Once home, though, we had my family over for dinner. I was the only one who didn’t know the outcome, but everyone dutifully kept quiet. When we were done eating, my brother-in-law Charlie came downstairs and watched the first half with me.

I was flabbergasted at the first goal and dumbfounded by the second. With a two-nil lead, the US would surely hold on. In the back of my mind, though, were Dug’s words during the semifinal: “they’ll find a way to lose.”

Charlie didn’t stick around for the second half. I should have taken that as a sign. I watched, disappointed, as the lead shrank to one goal, then level, then a deficit.

Some fans are saying “well at least they made it to the final.” Or “at least they got an early lead.”

Bull crap. Both of those things are commendable. But choking and blowing a two goal lead is pathetic.

Good for the US for taking it to Brazil from the opening whistle and getting the lead. Once up two goals, though, they should have done what everyone else in that situation does: sit back and defend. Brazil have a hard time breaking that down or getting any flow when all the action is in one half. Foul Kaka—take him off his rhythm. Just don’t let them get any momentum.

Instead, the US continued attacking. A noble thing to do, sure, and certainly what led to the early lead. But not the way to win a game when you already have an advantage and are playing a team of superior talent. It would have been an ugly way to win, but unlike Brazil, the US are under no obligation to win pretty. They need to just win first.

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