An old tradition

It’s hard defending soccer in the U.S.

It’s even tougher to carry the banner for the world’s most popular sport in the Southeast, where football and baseball reign supreme.

And it’s mornings like this one that make the job even more difficult.

Now, I don’t get as wound up about the women’s national team as I do their male counterparts, but when we send a team to the Olympics, my heart still goes with them.

Coming out on the wrong end of a 2-0 tally against Norway in this morning’s opener made it skip a beat or two.

I know Abby Wambach, our best scorer, broke her leg a few weeks ago. That’s unfortunate.

But it’s no excuse for us to not only lose, but fail to score in a match in which we dominated the possession.

We can’t score on the big international stage – men or women.

My friend, Englishman and fellow soccer fan Greg Phillips, said, “well, that’s a fundamental problem, isn’t it?”

Well, yeah. It is.

The women were shut out, 4-0, against Brazil in the 2007 World Cup before rebounding to whip Norway, 4-1.

What a difference a year makes.

We do have a fundamental issue here with soccer in America. Our best athletes aren’t playing it on the international level.

Every good team has a handful of players that can take the ball past a defender and create something in a 1-on-1 situation. Argentina, Brazil, Portugal, Spain, England, France and Italy all have players who can put pressure on a defense.

We have tall people who can score on set pieces.

We need more flair, more creativity and more athleticsm.

And we need it now.

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