Mike Lawrence: Ties are cruel
June 13, 2010
Steamboat Springs — Isn't American soccer past the point of being happy with ties?
I had to consider that question Saturday, after the U.S. team gave up an early goal to powerful England but went on to hold its own and earn a 1-1 draw on the second day of the 2010 World Cup.
Several soccer fans in The Powder Room at Torian Plum Plaza expressed satisfaction with the Americans' result.
Granted, the tie puts the U.S. in a good position to advance in the tournament with upcoming matches against Slovenia on Friday and Algeria on June 23 appearing to favor the U.S.
But we've been singing that song for several World Cups: Ties are good, we should temper our expectations, we're underdogs, and so on.
It's time for more.
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My father agreed.
"No, I'm not satisfied — we should have won," he said after Saturday's match, via telephone from New Hampshire. "I think England has the better players, but we're the better team. … Towards the end of the game, it was clear. We were playing not to lose — not to win."
The U.S. is ranked 14th in the world by FIFA. The team showed flashes of brilliance Saturday against eighth-ranked England. Striker Jozy Altidore missed a potentially game-winning goal by inches. England had strong chances, but the Americans' performance sent a message that this team is a legitimate contender on the international stage.
There are plenty of local soccer fans hoping to see that potential translate into World Cup victories in coming weeks. An enthusiastic crowd cheered for the Americans on Saturday in The Powder Room.
"It's good to see people getting excited about soccer," General Manager Luke Dudley said.
Audiences across the globe had no shortage of drama in Saturday's match.
The U.S. equalized the score with, admittedly, a bit of luck, as Clint Dempsey's relatively tame shot slid through the hands of English goalkeeper Robert Green. But the Americans more than earned the tally by contending through the entire game.
Reuters news service called Green's mistake "a howler." London's Guardian newspaper called it "a clanger" and "a goalkeeping blunder that will never be forgotten."
But the ball crossed the line nonetheless, and the Americans earned a well-deserved point in their first match of the 2010 World Cup.
Steamboat Springs City Councilman Kenny Reisman, a former goalkeeper, called the U.S. goal "one in a million" and credited the play of Tim Howard, who kept the U.S. in Saturday's game with his sterling effort.
The tournament continues through this month and climaxes in a July 11 final. Reisman asked me to pick winners, so I'll stand by the picks I made in a November column: Ivory Coast vs. Argentina in the final, with Ivory Coast a stunning champion on its home continent.
For the Americans to move forward, one thing is certain: ties will no longer suffice.
It's time for victories.