Warning. This post is 75% about soccer. 25% Pittsburgh Steelers related. Keep reading though because it’s June 22nd and the United States of America has a gigantic match at 6 p.m. today against Portugal. Whether you like the other type of football or not the World Cup is one of the best global events that happens every four years. When it happens the entire world watches. Plus now that the good old U.S. of A. won their first match against Ghana and are in prime position to advance out of the so called, “Group of Death” why not spend a little time reading about them?
As much as I love talking about the Steelers, today seemed like the perfect opportunity to talk a little about soccer. You can make a decent comparison about the current U.S. National Team and the 2014 Pittsburgh Steelers. The head coach of the U.S. team is Jurgen Klinsmann, from Germany. He famously said before the games started that the U.S. has no chance of winning the World Cup this year and it’s just not realistic to think that they can do it in 2014. As much as I hate to say the U.S.A. can’t win something, Jurgen is probably right. We don’t have the talent to compete with the greatest teams in the world just yet (although if goalie Tim Howard goes on a 2011 Tim Thomas for the Boston Bruins type run and doesn’t allow any goals, then you never know, but that’s asking a lot and hockey isn’t soccer).
Anyways, imagine Mike Tomlin coming out and saying the Steelers won’t win the Super Bowl this year. Steelers Nation would obviously be in an outrage and they would ask, “How could he say that? They have six Super Bowl titles. They should be in the hunt every single year.” And rightfully so, all Steelers fans would point to the fact that they have top five quarterback on the roster and they have a chance as long as Big Ben is playing. While I want to sip the Kool-Aid and believe the Steelers have a chance to win Super Bowl XLIX, it may just be an unrealistic dream at this point. Especially since they have gone 16-16 for that past two years. There is a better chance of the Steelers taking home the Lombardi Trophy than the U.S. winning in Brazil, but at the same time they are both pretty big underdogs to actually bring home home the hardware.
But what is so bad about being the underdog? The Steelers haven’t made the playoffs in two years and Team U.S.A. hasn’t made it to a World Cup semifinal since 1930 and aren’t considered a top tier soccer country at all. Today the U.S. plays Portugal, who I compare to the Cincinnati Bengals. Portugal only qualified for the World Cup three times from 1930 to 1998. Since then they have qualified for the past four, but have never finished better then third. I make the Bengals comparison because they don’t have a championship yet and recently they have been pretty good compared to the past. The Bengals got to two Super Bowls, which I’ll say is similar to Portugal coming in third in 1966. However the 90’s and early 2000’s weren’t great for the Bungals, just like Portugal qualifying only once for the World Cup from ’66 to ’98 probably wasn’t meeting expectations.
While team U.S.A. doesn’t exactly compare to the Pittsburgh Steelers and their six championships, they are in a similar position at the moment. I’m tired of the Bengals being the king of the AFC North. I’m also tired of the rest of the world thinking that U.S.A. soccer is a joke. If the U.S. wins today they clinch a spot in the knockout stage, basically they clinch a playoff spot. That’s a very big deal f or a country that openly says soccer is our fifth sport. To be apart of the final 16 teams in the World Cup is an accomplishment. The same thing can be said of the Steelers. Making the playoffs won’t be the ultimate goal but making the playoffs will at least be progress and a step in the right direction.
Thank you for reading about soccer. Go Go USA. And Go Steelers.