Complacency, The Culprit For U.S. World Cup Failure

Complacency, The Culprit For U.S. World Cup Failure

The historic defeat exposed the many issues with the way U.S. Soccer and its players operates.

The dream of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup finally fell apart for the U.S on Tuesday night with their loss to Trinidad and Tobago and wins for Panama and Honduras. It was a fitting end to a woebegone campaign that saw the team win only three games of ten in the final round of the Hexagonal in the CONCACAF, the most forgiving of the regional groups.

While the result was surprising to many coming off a strong showing against Panama Friday, it was no surprise to fans who have been paying attention.

As was the norm through most of qualifying, the Americans had no answer for the concentrated and organized defensive front presented by the opposition. The defense continued its sloppy play, with Tim Howard doing most of the work despite the fact that he is nearing 40. On the other side of the ball, the only offensive production for the Americans came from 19 year old Christian Pulisic. Contrary to what Bruce Arena seems to believe, one kid prodigy cannot score all the goals, or make up for all your team's deficiencies, though God knows Pulisic tried.

Much has and will be written in the wake of this blow to all of American soccer about lack of leadership, mediocrity of the players, and the anger and embarrassment of everyone involved with U.S. Soccer. And all that should be written, because this is an organization which deflects criticism rather than acknowledging it.

But it all boils down to one thing: complacency. The president of U.S. Soccer, Sunil Gulati, was complacent in keeping Klinsmann for far too long. Bruce Arena was complacent in his refusal to make any meaningful changes in his approach to compensate for deficiencies throughout qualifying. And, most importantly, the players were complacent in their belief that they would qualify against a T&T team that had long since been eliminated. So much so, in fact, that the opposing players used it as motivation.

I would like to believe that that loss will kickstart change for the better in U.S. Soccer, but the postgame press conference did not breed confidence. Who knows? They have plenty of time for introspection between now and the start of the Qatar cycle. In the meantime, let's hope the women don't follow in the men's footsteps

Cover Image Credit: Sports

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Why I've Lost Respect For Tom Brady

It's not about being the GOAT or a competitor. It's about showings sportsmanship.

Not a day went by, from February 5th, 2017 to February 4th, 2018, where i didn't hear at least one person call Tom Brady the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time). I've heard endless stories about what an incredible human being he is and how his love for the game exceeds so many others. He is devoted in ways that so many other athletes could only dream of. His diet is extreme, and his lifestyle is even more. It is for this reason as to why I have lost so much respect for Tom Brady.

As the confetti began to fall upon the Super Bowl Champion Eagles after a hard fought 41-33 victory, reports began to flourish that Brady did not shake Nick Foles' hand when the game ended. While there isn't 100% proof that this happened, it is highly unlikely that the hundreds of cameras would not have pinpointed Foles and Brady embracing. What cameras did capture was Brady running into the locker room, being escorted by bodyguards.

Now I know what Patriot fans are getting ready to say: "But losing the Super Bowl is embarrassing. Not many players stick around to shake hands after losing the championship, in any sport." To justify this, you have to look at the circumstances.

Brady is considered the GOAT, which in football would be a huge honor because there surely have been some great Quarterbacks throughout the years. He even won MVP this year. Nick Foles was the second string QB for most of the year until Wentz got injured, and he has been doubted every week by the media and fans that he can actually lead his team to victory. Some analysts even suggested that the Eagles would have a better chance if Tony Romo would come out of retirement.

Yet, Foles won the Super Bowl and had a outstanding game. Foles went 28 for 43 on completions, threw for 373 yards and 3 touchdowns, in addition to catching a pass for a touchdown on a crucial trick play. It is for this reason why he was named MVP. It should be noted that he did throw one interception, but that was off the hands of Alshon Jeffery so the blame shouldn't be put on him.

With next to no analysts predicting the Eagles to take down the mighty Patriots, the story was certainly one that will go down in history. With all this being said, Brady should have shaken his hand. Brady should honestly have congratulated the entire team. This isn't about him already having 5 Super Bowl rings, though that can get thrown in for good measure. This is about Brady, the face of a franchise and the leader of the team, showing sportsmanship to the underdog team that rightfully won that game.

You can Google images of past Super Bowl QB's shaking hands after the game because that is what you do when you are the leader of the team. You show respect to the others who beat you fair and square. Peyton Manning shook Russell Wilson's hand after getting destroyed in Super Bowl 48. Cam Newton shook Manning's hand after playing terribly in Super Bowl 50. To make matters worse, Brady can be seen shaking the hand of the losing team in Super Bowl 49 and 51.

Brady is not the only athlete to do this. Other star athletes have been seen running off the field or court after a loss whom another article could be written about.

As fans, we should demand sportsmanship between teams, especially their leaders. You cannot show "sportsmanship" when you win one game but not when you lose. It's about showing respect for the players that bested you. It's about saying, "you know this hurts that we lost, but that was a great game." We should demand better of our athletes, especially if they have already stamped their ticket into their respected Hall of Fame.

Tom Brady certainly is one of the greatest to ever do it, no question about that. He truly is an incredible athlete with his own underdog story. But after the events of Super Bowl 52, I will never be able to look at Brady in the same way.

Cover Image Credit: Sports Illustrated

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Can Matt Harvey Bounce Back In 2018?

Will the Dark Knight ever return to form?

For Matt Harvey, 2018 has to be more than just a bounce-back year. It needs to be the year where he defines his entire career.

It seems like an eternity ago, but at one point, Matt Harvey seemed like the future of the Mets. Before Jacob DeGrom and Noah Syndergaard even joined the team, Harvey was there, breaking records and starting All-Star Games. Typical rookie stuff. In 2015, when the Mets reached the World Series, Harvey’s dominant 8+ inning performance in Game 5 came crashing to a halt after walking Lorenzo Cain and giving up a subsequent RBI double to Eric Hosmer. Harvey was removed from the game, and the Mets would lose the series later that night.

Since then, Harvey has never been the same pitcher he once was. Over the past two seasons, he’s gone 9-17 while posting a staggering ERA of 5.78. He wasn’t able to finish either season due to injury.

However, 2018 will be a year where the Mets can only go up, and in a contract year, Harvey has the chance to prove he can be a dynamic part of the team’s rotation. With Manager Mickey Callaway at the reins of a complete turnaround for the Mets after an abysmal 2017, it would only make sense that Matt Harvey could completely turn his career around.

During his tenure as pitching coach for Cleveland, Callaway was responsible for the evolution and domination of both Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco, pitchers who led the Indians to back to back playoff appearances over the past 2 years. With the Mets, Callaway believes he can do the same, and that the talent is inherent for the team. “The amount of very good arms and quality stuff we have in this Mets organization, I promise you nobody else has that,” Callaway said on Tuesday.

Of course, in order for the talent to shine, the Mets need to overcome their greatest weakness and stay healthy. In 2017, four out of the five probable starters for the Mets all served lengthy stints on the disabled list, while DeGrom was the only SP to have an effective season. While Callaway danced around the idea of limiting pitchers’ innings, he put an immense emphasis on health, a topic that Harvey has struggled with immensely.

After undergoing surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome in 2016, and in 2017, Harvey received more surgery to repair his left shoulder blade. While there are still plenty of questions regarding his health, and if he could possibly return to form in 2018, Callaway has put his faith into not only Harvey, but the entire Mets pitching staff. “There are smiles on everyone’s faces because they’re coming in healthy and what I’ve seen so far has kind of blown me away”

Cover Image Credit: WikimediaCommons

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