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10/12/2017

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Charles N.Steele

Very informative analysis. I was waiting to see what you'd say. Thanks!

This reminds me a bit of some of the discussion of the supposed link between alleged global warming and more frequent hurricanes. hardly anyone realizes that hurricane experts are puzzled by the abnormally *low* number of hurricanes over the last few decades. What we are seeing today is actually closer to normal. Maybe the same is so for the U.S. soccer defeat.

John Pepple

Yes, this might be normal. Then again, it might be that the team has declined a bit. We'll see what happens in the qualifying round four years from now.

jawick

You would think with the very large population (well over 300 million) in the U.S., that the U.S. team should always be one of the top competitors. And to lose to Trinidad and Tobago (with its less than 1.5 million inhabitants) is beyond unbelievable. I wonder just how much the U.S. team's arrogance/superiority complex at playing a supposedly inferior, small island nation played into their catastrophic loss.

John Pepple

Yes, especially when Trinidad went into the game with a record of one win and eight losses.

vandiver49

First: I think Mexico and Panama took a look at the scoreboard during their respective matches and both decided to throw their contests once they saw the U.S. was going down in flames.

Second: with all of the kvetching happening in the media regarding this failure of the USMNT, I was wonder what you consider to be America's strategic flaws when in comes the soccer. i don't by the athlete issue and we as a nation certainly don't want for funds.

IMO, I think we have been treating soccer much like basketball and football when it is closer to sports like baseball and tennis. Those contests require a great amount of skill that sheer athleticism simply can't make up for.

John Pepple

Regarding your first point, I myself suggested this in my first post after the U.S. loss (though I was being somewhat facetious). I don’t know how you’d prove it one way or another. But I didn’t get to see any of these games, so maybe someone who did can point to those players slacking off in some obvious way at some point.

As for the other point, I agree that soccer really requires a great deal of skill and that sheer athleticism isn’t going to help. I don’t have much connection with any youth soccer these days, so I don’t really know what is happening. I do know that I rarely see children playing soccer on their own, and that is the way that most players throughout the rest of the world learn. Instead, our children play on teams coached by people who probably don’t know a lot themselves. There’s a lot more that could be said, but again, I just don’t know everything that’s going on. I still wonder why Freddy Adu didn’t develop in the way he was expected to. Losing him was a big blow for the national team.

My strategy for teams that can’t match the skill of other teams is to work on accuracy in shooting, because that is one skill that no one seems to emphasize. That why I go on a lot about how bad players are at taking penalty kicks these days. My thinking is that if a player can’t shoot accurately during a penalty kick, when all the odds are in his favor, he isn’t likely to shoot accurately at other times, either.

There are three other points I want to make here in connection with accurate shooting. First, a player may get only a few shots on goal during the entire game. Let’s say he gets five every game. If his accuracy is such that only two of them are on target, then he can score at most two goals (ignoring deflections). On the other hand, if he can get four of them on target, he has doubled his potential.

The second point is that most goals are scored from within just a few yards of the goal. To get within a few yards of the goal requires a tremendous amount of control of the game, and for weaker teams that isn’t likely to happen very often. But if the players on such a team can shoot accurately from further out, they will have a better chance of scoring without needing that kind of control.

The third point is that nearly every game I see that ends with one team winning by one goal could have ended differently if the losing side had taken more accurate shots. Generally, such a team will have taken a number of shots, and many of them will be high and wide. These are just a waste of effort. If it misses by a couple inches, fine, but many will miss by many yards. I don’t find that very impressive. Of course, there is no guarantee that an accurate shot will go into the goal, but aside from the occasional deflection, a shot that is off-target can be guaranteed NOT to go in.

There. Sorry for the rant, but I find it very frustrating watching players with such high-level skills in other areas who can’t shoot accurately.

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