Here at Brotherly Game we are tasked with covering the Philadelphia Union, a team who are notorious for not being good. In most of the matches we come into, we are considered the plucky underdogs who will probably be on the receiving end of a spanking administered by the opposing side we are up against, or maybe from our former head coach.
That being said, I'd like to talk about the United States Men's National Team. With all respect to our friends at Stars and Stripes FC, I think National Team fans can learn a thing or two from a team who hasn't had a player make the USMNT since Maurice Edu subbed on against Mexico in 2014.
Let's not act like we were going to win the Copa America anyway. Sure the US drew probably the worst group, but let's not kid ourselves. In fact, let's stop acting like we are the kings of CONCACAF anymore. Not to say the US has gotten worse as a team, or that somehow we'll become a top-six national side if we got rid of Jurgen Klinsmann, but CONCACAF has gotten a lot better. Mexico has always been the US's closest competitor, and really was our only threat in terms of North American teams, but other countries have stepped up. Jamaica is a lot better then they were, to the point where they knocked us out of our "date with destiny" against Mexico in the finals of last summer's Gold Cup. And don't look now but an injection of young MLS talent in the form of Orlando City's Cyle Larin and the New York Red Bulls' Karl Ouimette has Canada looking like a tricky team to play.
Sure, sure, it's really cool that we can host a major tournament that will see the likes of Leo Messi, Neymar, Alexis Sanchez play in front of largely American crowds, and I would have loved to see the US draw an easier group of Ecuador, Haiti, and Peru, but that didn't happen. So before everyone goes and says that if we don't escape the group stage, Jurgen should be fired and replaced by Manuel Pellegrini, let's keep a few things in mind. This isn't the Gold Cup, and even if it were, a trophy isn't guaranteed anymore. What we should do; however, is approach this from a different standpoint.
American national teams are never really the underdogs. Women's soccer can pretty much run the table in any competition they're in. Our hockey team only has to worry about Canada. In basketball, we've demolished every opponent we've faced almost without fail since the dream team days. Baseball we fair pretty well in and they haven't had a global competition long enough for a great sample size. We've been a bit greedy about getting out of the group stage of the World Cup on the men's side of things. We make these young kids into overnight superstars because they score clutch goals against big countries in friendlies (Bobby Wood and Jordan Morris everyone) or big World Cup games (guten tag John Brooks). As awesome as these moments are, I'd love it if we could stop pretending these fine gentleman are Messi. There are only a handful of guys in the world who are on that level and none of them are from the States. We are not favorites in this tournament, we are underdogs. Let's embrace that feeling of being the underdogs for once, that way we can enjoy the highest quality of soccer that this country has seen in 20 years. Besides, as we know, Jamaica weren't supposed to beat us in the Gold Cup and they had a pretty good time playing spoiler. It would be pretty fun to have that be us for a change, wouldn't it?