I promise you, this is not going to be an anti-soccer rant. Those went out with Greyhound race tracks and 'B.U.M. Equipment' shirts ("If I had bum equipment, I wouldn't advertise it!" - virtually everyone). The only people still demanding that no one like a sport they don't like are in their late 70s. And saying it in a column appearing on newsprint that's delivered to your grandparent's front door. And it's recycled from every World Cup year since the Reagan Administration (looking at you, Shaughnessy).
Soccer doesn't happen to pique my interest, but neither does most contemporary music or the "Real Housewives of Anyplace." Speaking as someone who unironically likes Figure Skating, I'm not one to dictate tastes to anybody. So I'm genuinely happy for Reags that he's happy with the outcome of the game in Minnesota:
That said, this is one of the most humiliating, if not downright disgraceful victories in the history of this once proud nation.
The United States of America, a nation of 330 million people, had to schedule a match on ice planet Hoth in order to beat Honduras, which doesn't have 10 million? And don't give me that, "But soccer is their national sport" ragtime either. Because there are probably more than 10 million of Honduran descent living here. Let's put them on USMNT so we can preserve whatever small shred of dignity this team has left.
Now let me be clear. Crystal. I'm not one of those people who believes in making things "competitive." I've never, for one hot second, believed we shouldn't send our pros to the Olympics because it's "not fair." When you're the best in the world at something, that's to be celebrated. When there's an international cooking competition no one expects the French to send their amateur chefs so the fat guys from Kansas City smoking brisket have a shot. We don't do much in this country any more but produce the world's best basketball players, so why pretend otherwise out of some demented sense of fairness?
But that's not what this is:
Daily Mail - American players have admitted that their decision to play in -2F weather in Minnesota was a strategic choice after they secured a 3-0 win against Honduras in Wednesday's Word Cup qualifier match.
The visitors were enraged over the choice of venue and the chilling conditions - with two players forced off at half-time with hypothermia and others requiring IV drips to recover.
As the hosts, the US were able to choose the stadium for the game and picked Minnesota's Allianz Field - a new venue opened just three years ago, but facing sub-zero temperatures in the Midwest winter. ..
The wind chill was -8F at kick-off, making it the coldest U.S. home game in the team's history. It was enough to freeze a wet t-shirt pitchside on TV coverage and players wore protective clothing. …
SA coach Gregg Berhalter told the Star Tribune that playing in the cold was a common tactic to help the U.S. team, which is based in Chicago and regularly trains in Canada, gain a homefield advantage against Central and South American teams.
I get it. Homefield advantage is a thing across all sports. I've seen my baseball and football teams win postseason games in October and January respectively against warm weather teams unequipped to handle the conditions. The Russians used the cold to defeat Bismarck, Napoleon and Hitler, and no one bellyached they should've moved the battles to Saudi Arabia in order to level the playing field.
My beef isn't that the US picked Minnesota for this. It's that they knew they had to. Put this one in Miami and they knew they'd get their heads handed to them. And they're not ashamed of admitting this was their reasoning.
Where's the pride, huh? Where's the guts? Where's the Delta I used to know? The America I grew up in was a beacon of hope to the world. We were cocky and full of confidence. We used to make steel. Then form it into a solid block and carved Cadillacs out of it using our dicks for chisels. We smoked everywhere and drank brown alcohols over a steak lunch. And we would meet any country in any sport on any field in any conditions. We sent troops from the tropical jungles of Asia to deserts of North Africa to frozen fields of Scandinavia. Let the best nation win.
For sure we didn't go around with this mentality that says we need extreme weather if we have any hope of beating a team from a country that is about 10% bigger than New York City. I wasn't rooting for USMNT anyway. But now I'm dedicating whatever tiny portion of my brain I use for thinking about soccer to root for any team they face. Cowards.
P.S. Our Figure Skaters would never stoop so low.