By Jim • 

Sports Fan: U.S. Men's National Team lacked aggressiveness

American World Cup team lacked aggressiveness

In most sports, to be aggressive is a must, both on offense and defense.

Picture a baseball team, with its hitters taking pitch after pitch, looking for walks; they’ll end up on the short end of the stick unless the opposing pitcher is a wild man.

Or a basketball team that lives and dies on the three-pointer, a team that won’t contest the opponents’ big men by driving to the basket or punching the ball into the low post; they’ll lose the majority of the time unless they hit 75 percent from the circle.

The lack of that characteristic — aggressiveness — is what cost the American team dearly in the World Cup as players fell back on defense too often, not challenging the ball and allowing Belgium shot after shot on goal without attacking on the offensive side. That’s also what cost the Americans a shot at beating Germany in the previous game.

In spite of that failure to attack on too many occasions when they did possess the ball, the Americans did get into extra-time with the Belgians, who were aggressive from the get-go. However, a yeoman’s job by U.S. goaltender Tim Howard kept the Belgians at bay, deflecting tries time after time.

Several times late in the game, the American players showed some signs of life and began to attack more frequently, finally scoring in the 107th minute. But trailing by one, the U.S. club missed a six-yard try in the 114th minute, and the Belgians escaped with a 2-1 victory, eliminating the American contingent.

While I’m certainly not a soccer expert and only played the game in a college P.E. class over a week-long unit in the sport, I can certainly say that if the Americans had been more aggressive, in not only the contest against Belgium but also in other matches during the World Cub, the outcome might have been different.

On the other hand, I’m not sure if the American side had enough quality players to make a deep run in the tournament. And, as their coach said, the team is still young, which may be taken as an excuse.

However, will the same players be available four years from now to give it another try?

One sidebar: Yes, as fans, players and coaches claim, soccer is growing in popularity in the United States. Look north to Portland to understand how the sport has gained traction in the Northwest as the Timbers often draw full houses to their matches. But, I can’t really see soccer challenging Major League Baseball, NBA hoops or the National Football League for supremacy. I could be wrong, but I don’t think sports fan will ever see soccer become the National Pastime in American, which loves its baseball, basketball and football. As it is, it’s an exciting sport for many and a great time for all fans to head for the stadium and cheer for a game that’s so popular worldwide.

If you have an idea for a column or feature story, please contact me by e-mail at or by phone at 503-687-1274.

Web Design & Web Development by LVSYS