A few days after El Tri fans had to witness Mexico swallow 90 minutes of Chile con carnage, USMNT supporters where forced to sit through a similar display of dominance but this time at the hands of a bionic flea led Argentina. And just like a Gyazi Zardes first touch, CONCACAF’s last hope of a title at the 100th edition of the Copa America escaped our grasp.
How can the two supposed powerhouses in our region rebound after a combined 11-0 drubbing at the hands of last years Copa finalists? For the USMNT (who played without several starters against the Albicelest) redemption can begin immediately during next Saturday’s 3rd place game against the loser of tonight’s semifinal match between Columbia and Chile. All eyes will be on embattled German skipper Jurgen Klinsmann to right the ship against the buzz saw Chileans or a Colombia team that waltzed through the Americans in the tournaments first game. As for the Mexicans, they will be left to wallow in their self pity after watching their longest winnings streak snapped in spectacular fashion until October when World Cup qualification ramps up once again.
It would be easy to say that these results are just another reminder of CONCACAFs place in the football world. Consider this though: Outside of Chile and Argentina, who may be top 5 teams in the world at the moment, South America’s other traditional powers Uruguay and Brazil couldn’t even get past group stage without their respective superstars. And that leaves a tantalizing question, what if the USMNT can find just one half of a Messi (talent wise of course, half a Messi would be a squirrel) among its vast reserves of sports hungry youth? Surely there is a diminutive soccer wizard in the back woods of West Virginia or the Fallujah-like hard streets of Chicago. But until we do, and as long as Nick Saban doesn’t find him first and asks him to cover the slot in a Tampa style 2 high defensive scheme, CONCACAF will always be international soccer’s cute shoe shine boy.