Monday, July 29, 2013

EXTRA EXTRA...The US wins the Gold Cup!!! Hohummm

So the US mens national soccer team won their 5th Gold Cup title yesterday, defeating surprise finalist Panama, 1-0. When is the ticker tape parade? Cover of the New York Times, Sports Illustrated and Time? Okay Okay, I am being a tad harsh. Yes I am a total Euro-snob when it comes to football. I always giggle when I hear the World Cup being called the European Cup, but with Argentina and Brazil. Of course I am also not as football ignorant as I just came across. The international game has benefit with the rise of African nations, such as Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Cameroon to name a few. As well as the rise of Asian powers such as South Korea, Japan and Australia. And, the game has benefited from seeing the richest country in the world - the United States - start to put a solid side out for World Cups and other international matches. We should also start seeing nations such as Iraq making more noise in international venues. All this is good for the international game. But back to the Gold Cup.

Reason why I am saying hohummm...is that it has become clear that nations like the United States and Mexico have outgrown the Gold Cup. And really have outgrown the CONCACAF. That is my real ramble. I have written about this before, but after this Gold Cup finals it only reinforces my thinking about the US and Mexico being part of the Gold Cup. I realize that you play the conference you are in. But look to the example of Australia, who realized they had outgrown the Oceania region and moved into Asia. Australia was finding some success in football, getting to World Cups and having aspirations of getting beyond the group stages. However, the nation recognized that only in getting a more challenging region could they grow as a team that could do better at the World Cup.

Could the US and Mexico benefit from changing regions...say join CONEMBOL region.
Think about the celebration after beating Brazil!
Okay okay, I know what fans of the US and Mexico will say...why head to tough region when they are quasi guaranteed a spot at the World Cup by staying with CONCACAF! I mean seriously...the top three nations make it and the fourth plays the first place team from Oceania! But think about the following, how much better for the overall US and Mexican teams being forced to play high pressure games against Brazil or Argentina...going to Uruguay would be better than a match in Jamaica! I know that the US plays some intense games like away to Guatemala, but not sure that is as intense as away to the South American nations. Granted the US and Mexico would not longer be guaranteed a spot at the World Cup, but cutting their teeth on these matches would better in the long run. Of course FIFA would have to redistribute the qualifying spots between CONEMBOL and CONCACAF.

Finally, imagine the benefit for the US and Mexico to play regularly in the Copa America rather than the Gold Cup! Having to play tournaments with the likes of Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, Ecuador, Argentina, Chile etc rather than Panama and Costa Rica will be a much greater challenge.

I know you have to play the regional tournaments you find yourself in and a title is a title...crap if Les Bleus could win a trophy on a regular basis I would be happy! Well we did win the U20 World Cup!! But for the United States and Mexico to real grow as national teams they need to test themselves with a real qualifying campaign. It will probably never happen...but something that would be great to see. Think about the excitement of hosting Brazil in Columbus for a World Cup qualifier, or seeing Messi and Argentina coming to New York for a qualifier!

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