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Chronicle of a Debacle Foretold

When I have time, I like very much to read novels. One of my favorite authors is Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
I’m sure that many of you remember his novel ‘Chronicle of a Death Foretold’ (Crónica de una muerte anunciada). The sad end of USA’s adventure at the World Cup, reminds me of the title of that novel.
Those that follow my news letters or have read my interview in the Chronicle, clearly know that “I don't consider myself to be an Italian who lives in America, but an American who was born in Italy.” So I’m taking the liberty to talk about OUR debacle.

We played 3 games. We lost 2 and tied 1, scored 1 goal and had 6 against! The second we had was an own-goal by Italy. I believe that this means something that only people blind or deaf, can’t see or hear!

In the past, I wrote a few articles in which this debacle was clearly foretold.

-A provocative news letter!
-A provocative news letter #2
-The only chance for professional soccer to succeed in the U.S. is to deeply change it!
-The only chance for professional soccer to succeed in the U.S. is to deeply change it! (Part 2)
-Where has the dressing room gone?
-What a soccer club is in the rest of the world (part 1)
-What a soccer club is in the rest of the world (2d and last part).
-Teaching Youth Soccer in a Holiday Country?
-Youth soccer in the US. The constant and harmful misunderstanding.
-The right comparison in soccer.
-What a REAL soccer player is (in my opinion).

If you read these articles in the past or now, you understand that the problem is clearly at the roots of soccer in our country and not in the National Team. They did their best, considering everything. But I think that I will not offend anyone by underlining that, besides a couple of exceptions, not one of these players could play consistently for a top European Club like Manchester United, Barcelona, Real Madrid, A.C.Milan, Liverpool, Chelsea, Bayern, Lyon, and on and on. Just for your information, 102 of the players at the World Cup play in England, 69 in Germany and 61 in Italy. Many others in France and Spain.

Aside from the technical reasons, there are other aspects, connected with OUR attitude as Americans. We believe we are the best in the world. And in many fields we are. But not on a soccer field!!!!

This attitude is reflected in other sports. We call the finals of baseball, The World Series. We call the team that wins the NBA season, World Champions. Clearly in baseball we are the best, but at our level, basically it’s played only here.

In basketball, when we went to the REAL WORLD CUP a couple years ago bringing all the NBA superstars, we ended up in SEVENTH PLACE and were beaten on the court by Costa Rica and Argentina. At the last Olympic Games, our ‘Dream Team’ didn’t bring home even a bronze medal and was beaten by Italy, even putting on the field the greatest superstar players coached by the coach that won the World Champion ‘American Title’ that year!!!

I’ll give you 2 examples to show you how OUR mentality works:

In the last 150 years, the sailing American Cup was the greatest trophy to bring home. It’s the oldest sport trophy and one of the most desired in any of the actual sports. We were very proud to ALWAYS win it in the last 150 years but………………………… there was a but!

At a certain moment, the American skipper Dennis Conner with the boat Stars&Stripes, lost the Cup against Australia. At the beginning it was a ‘National Tragedy‘. The New York Yacht Club and Dennis Conner, who didn’t want to be remembered as ‘The Man Who Lost The American Cup” did everything to bring the cup back. And he succeeded! After a while, the Cup was lost again with New Zealand. New effort to take it back. Nothing. Another effort. Even worse! The American boat not only was defeated, but didn’t even arrive to the final round. What was the solution?


The Cup went to Europe, won by the outstanding Swiss team ALINGHI, that was unbeatable. Considering that Switzerland is not surrounded by oceans but only by mountains with a few big lakes, it was something! This news was relegated to the last pages in all the news papers in invisible characters. The American Cup, that was the glory of our nation, was simply made to DISAPPEAR by magic, and lets just forget about trying to take it back!

When, two years ago ALINGHI was here in the Bay and competing with ORACLE head to head in an exhibition race, just a few people went to the shore to see these two magnificent ‘giants’, with masts as tall as a 10 story building and with a square mile of sails, battling around Angel Island! The American Cup, the real trophy valuable like the soccer World Cup, was there in a sponsor tent, completely forgotten by us Americans!

This example was about ‘erasing’ by magic an historical defeat. The other example is how we are able to ‘invent’ by magic a soccer past that we don’t have.

Did you ever notice the soccer seal of Brazil? At the top, there are 5 stars. Those stars represent the 5 World Cups that they have won in the last century. The same is for Germany and Italy with 3 stars, 2 for Argentina and so on. So, how many Word Cups have we already won? It seems not one. This was a problem for our good look. Putting 5 stars there like Brazil, seemed a little to arrogant. Just 1 doesn’t look good so, lets put 3, something in between like Germany and Italy. And voila’, history is made in the blink of an eye! We like to pretend. This explains why we created Superman, Batman & Robin, Cat Woman, Spider Man, Flash and all the Super Heroes that mark our daily life. There are millions of people that like to spent a fortune to see a wrestling fight, that is clearly a comedy, and there are not enough spectators that spend $20 to go see a REAL soccer professional game and teams like the Earthquake in San Jose, that won the MLS Championship 2 times consecutively, have to change cities to try to survive!

With this attitude of canceling the defeats by erasing them and inventing by magic a past that we don’t have, even if we played soccer in America for more than one century like all the other nations that in this moment are better than us, we will not go anywhere!

In the future, I’ll write about a program that, if started now, in 4 or 8 years can bring the USA to the top of World Soccer, for REAL!

By the way, after already having seen dozens of games on ESPN or ABC, I asked at the American gardener that was working outside my home: ”Did you see some games of the World Cup?” Knowing that I’m a soccer coach, he answered: ”No, I didn’t know that there was the World Cup! Did Italy play well?” I just walked away in saying:” For now so-so.” I don’t expect the President to declare a National Holiday to let people to see the USA games, like the President of Costa Rica, but being this person an American that constantly talks all day with people and doesn’t know that our country plays in Germany in the World Cup, it seems to me a ‘little too much’. Or maybe it’s normal that almost no one cares about soccer in this country.

Just to end well, last Saturday evening at 7:00, the day of the USA-Italy game, I was celebrating in a bar with my American daughter and son in law. A young guy, probably 22-25 years old asked me: ”Do you know how the hockey game ended?”

P.S. Do you have enough imagination to see an American player score a goal and cross the field to go to embrace Bruce Arena to share the joy with his Coach? If this simple fact doesn’t say anything to all of you, about the feeling between the players and the coach, I don’t have anything more to say aside from……………………… wake up American soccer!

Coach Gianni
Posted on 12 Jul 2006 by coachgianni
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