The 2014 World Cup draw proved one thing: Fans of the U.S. Men's National Team are soft. After drawing into Group G with Germany, Portugal and Ghana, USMNT fan reactions ranged from simpering self-pity to virtuosic impersonations of Private Hudson's seminal GAME OVER, MAN cowardice in "Aliens." While Group G is indeed the infamously recurring Group Of Death, so is almost every other group. USMNT fans are basically bemoaning FIFA's failure to hand them a World Cup trophy. In doing so, they are only making a reality of their own soft-as-silk stereotype.
It's no secret next year's tournament will be a hellscape of frenzied, desperate despair soundtracked by the echoing death-howls of the vanquished and the lamentations of their now aimless supporters; certainly most any soccer fan could ascertain as much with a cursory glance at the groups. Of which, only Group E appears even vaguely easy and that's mostly due to all four teams -- France, Switzerland, Ecuador and Honduras -- being anywhere from mediocre to impressively inconsistent on a good day. As for the other groups, the suck is about the same for everyone. In stereotypically American fashion, American fans can't quite seem to grasp that.
Sure, Germany plays like a squadron of unfeeling cyborgs using soccer to formulate advanced theories on market efficiency. And yeah, Portugal has Cristiano Ronaldo, which is like having intermittent access to a "Win Game Now" button. On top of all that there is Ghana, comfortably resting upon a throne of shattered American dreams that they took as spoils after deadlighting the USMNT in the last two World Cups. Shocking as it may seem, the most prestigious soccer tournament in the world is loaded with teams that are good at soccer.
What seems to be forgotten is the USMNT is also, finally, good at soccer. This World Cup is the national team's first real chance to prove it is 100 percent not to be messed with and, in doing so, hand every soccer elitist snot an honorary degree in Haters Gonna Hate from U MAD. Make no mistake, the international soccer community does reflexively regard the American side as a joke and there's no blaming it. When a country vaingloriously advertises itself as the best in the world, but gets routinely curbstomped playing the world's game, well, the jokes write themselves. But again, that doesn't have to happen this time.
Under delightfully imperious head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, an American side perpetually known for its primitively scrappy style has been alchemized into an iteration of itself that can at long last play the beautiful game. Remember, every American team in recent memory has operated on the eternal Tim Howard posting a clean sheet long enough for the right ball to bounce the right way in the right game for a forever flailing attack. Now there is still the eternal Tim Howard being eternal, but there is also an effective, coherent attack that relies on previously unknown tactics such as "Short passes, idiot!" and "Hey, maybe don't aimlessly lob the ball and hope for the best?"
Beyond just tactics, the USMNT also has this wild crazy thing now called legitimate world-class players. A stacked midfield is anchored by the #BasedHolyTrinity of Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan, while both the front and back lines are athletic, composed and straight up brolic. Yes, the squad suffers from stretches of uninspired play and short-circuited tactics that one would expect of a team learning to play like a good team, but, for the first time in my life, I do not believe the soccer team of my adopted country will get hammered in the World Cup. There isn't a draw in the world that can change that. Yet, fans are still pretending not a single xenomorph of international soccer can possibly be defeated. Screw that.
Here's some known news: Klinsmann used to coach the German side and laid the foundation for their hyper-disciplined attacking style. Remember, there is no proof that says Klinsmann wasn't an American sleeper agent all along. As for Portugal, having one of the two best players alive is pretty rad, but this is the same side that needed a miraculous run of play from Ronaldo to qualify for the World Cup. Which leaves Ghana, the mighty juggernaut that beat the USMNT by one whole goal in both 2006 and 2010. I mean, you can throw in the towel now if you like, but it might just be a touch premature.
Besides, it's not like the U.S. was going to win this World Cup anyway -- we're good, but we are nowhere near that good. No, this one is about the USMNT dragging as many opposing sides as it can into a shared abyss and laughing maniacally as they struggle for a hopeless escape. We'll all get to see the USMNT eliminated from the World Cup for the umpteenth time, but at least there's hope they'll do it with style. I, for one, am anticipating a most glorious death.