The first thing that popped into my head this morning

I am a foreigner. I come from a distant land. But I’ve lived among you for almost exactly thirty years. And in that time, I’ve learned what it is to be an American. And let me tell you, I’ve also learned that there is no other place I’d rather be and no other country I’d rather be a citizen of.

With that all said, no matter how assimilated with American society and culture I have become, there is one essential bit of my foreigness that remains intact to this day. Namely, I like soccer. It’s true. Soccer is something that all foreigners like. We can’t help it.

The US Men’s National Team, lead by newly hired coach and former German/international superstar, Jurgen Klinsmann, played an international friendly match against Mexico last night. Mexico started the game off with an early lead when one of our defenders had a lapse in judgement, allowing a Mexican player to beat him to beautifully crossed ball and hook it in past our goal keeper, Tim Howard. Mexico kept up the pressure and kept the ball in our half of the field for seemingly the entire first half of play. The US players looked outclassed, out of position and lacking in the sort of intensity that you’d expect from a well-coached team.

But then a strange thing happened. The first half ended and Coach Klinsmann gathered the team in the locker room to go over strategies, make a few tweaks and substitute in a couple of new players. The guys that came out in the second half looked like a completely different team.

All of a sudden, we started pressuring the Mexican defense. We started controlling the ball and dictating the pace of the game. And, with about twenty minutes remaining, we equalized with a beautiful run and cross by one of the new substitutes, Brek Shea, laying the ball perfectly at the feet of Robbie Rogers, who had out-hustled his defender, allowing Rogers to kick the ball into an empty net. The game ended in a draw, but the US had many opportunities to win (including a couple of blatant non-calls that should have resulted in at least one penalty kick as well as a Mexican player ejection) once we came out in the second half playing like we wanted to win it.

Look, I’ve reached rambling territory with the length of this post so, in closing, I’d just like to say this: reports out of the Dawgs’ first scrimmage yesterday indicated that the guys, particularly the first team offense, came out flat and let the heat get to them. But by all accounts, they came out strong in the second half, picked up the intensity and finished the day off positively. Like the USMNT did in the second half of that “friendly” against Mexico and like how we closed scrimmage, this is how we need to play all of the time. The last thing I want for our players and coaches to have to do at the end of this upcoming season is regret their decision- and play-making during the season. There ain’t no do overs once the season starts and there ain’t nothing “friendly” about any of it.

On offense, we need to attack. And on defense, we need to continue to attack. In fact, we should just do away with the whole “offense” and “defense” nomenclature. Instead, let’s refer to it as “attacking with the ball” and “attacking to take the ball away”. Even a soccer-loving foreigner can see the virtue in this mentality.

Go Dawgs!

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2 Responses to “The first thing that popped into my head this morning”

  1. Great post. Where you from originally? What brought you to Georgia?

    • Born in Malaysia. My father moved us to America to finish up his schooling at UGA, where he later joined as a faculty member. It was down to U.C. Santa Barbara, Syracuse and UGA as to where he wanted to go. Thank goodness he made the right decision. I couldn’t imagine being a fan of the Fighting Banana Slugs or, even worse, the Orange(men). Shudder.

      Thanks for the kind words and Go Dawgs!

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