Monday, March 26, 2012

Too Much U23 Hype?

The sky is falling out from the United States' beloved Under-23 national team.

Or so you may think.

The U.S. Olympic squad may not actually ever be an Olympic squad if the U.S. does not take care of business against El Salvador tonight. Of course, this wouldn't be an issue had the U.S. lived up to the hype and beaten Canada but instead the Canadians stunned the U.S. with a 2-0 win on Saturday.

Shocking? Has to be, right? This is Canada after all, and these are the Adu- and Shea-led Americans, a squad loaded with talent who was supposed to walk right through this round.

Well, the U.S. may never have been or may never be gold medal favorites, at least in 2012. But the U.S. is not an also-ran in CONCACAF either. Somewhere in between is the U.S. And that's probably what makes the loss to Canada seem so stunning. This U.S. squad is loaded with talent - Freddy Adu, Brek Shea, Joe Gyau, Joe Corona, Juan Agudelo, Bill Hamid, Teal Bunbury, Mix Diskerud.... salivating, eye-popping, mouth-watering - insert your preferred adjective about the squad here.

But was it just too much hype and too much excitement for this squad that fueled the hype and caused this squad to be a bit inflated? Perhaps. Certainly the United States' dominant 2-0 win over Mexico in February did not help matters in terms of inflating this team's stature.

The problem with perception really is not a problem unless players believe the hype and overconfidence creeps in. Sure, we may all believe one thing that isn't but that's on us for buying into hype. Once players start believing the hype, bad things happen. And maybe there was some of that with this team, if not believing hype from the media and outsiders then possibly feeling overconfident because of their own previous performances.

And let's also not diminish what Canada did. The U.S. probably has more talent than Canada but Canada did very well to take it to the U.S. and shut down the Americans' engine right from the start of the match.

Still, the bottom line about the U.S. is this - if the Americans can't beat El Salvador in a must-win match, they don't belong anywhere near the Olympics.


Anonymous said...

The main issue i have now is that either Mexico or the US may not make it to the Olympics because they will face each other in the semis. Concacaf will now have a weaker team representing at the Olympics because of the US slip up.

East River said...

Down 2-1 to El Salvador???? With the sloppy passing and poor defending that was shown in the 1st half I haven't to say the US would be a weaker team. We are down 2-1 to ELS not exactly a strong team. This team just doesn't have that something lets hope they find some good old US fighting spirit or all is lost. Look for a whole lot of diving and mysterious injuries to pop up from ESL in the 2nd.

East River said...

This is classic Concacaf time wasting.

East River said...

Now thats more like. US up 3-2 for those not watching.

East River said...

3-3 Johnson gives up a last gasp goal to ESL. He really should have had that no one you should allow that go in but if you watch him with Chicago you know he gives up soft goals like that one all the time. The US is out but I am glade to say they fought hard in the 2nd half and hopefully they learn some valuable lessons from all this.