Lionel Messi is over it

Written by :
Published on : June 28, 2016

 

 

 

Lionel Messi is totally over it. Arguably the best player in the world, Messi has been the face of Argentina’s national team and the entire soccer world for years now. He just turned 29 and is playing the best football of his life. Routinely making the type of plays that astound viewers and defenders alike, Lionel is in his prime and has helped Argentina become the #1 team in the world.

 

And he’s walking away.

 

After a gut-wrenching loss on penalty kicks to Chile in the Copa América Centenario final, Lionel Messi announced his retirement from international soccer. It was the 4th consecutive Copa América final that he has lost with the national team. When you combine that with a brutal World Cup final loss to Germany in the 113th minute, it’s easy to see why Messi is so frustrated. He has gotten so close on so many occasions and he can’t seem to take that final step to international soccer greatness.

 

 Defeat.

 

When he sailed his penalty kick attempt over the crossbar in last Sunday’s matchup with Chile, the whole world could see how deeply he was shaken. When he later went on to retire from international play, the entire soccer world was shaken. But are we really to believe that the best player in the world is going to quit on his country when he is in the middle of his prime?

 

That’s pretty hard to believe.

 

Rumor has it that other notable players on Argentina’s national team will also reconsider their future with the team. Combined with the frustration of all these close losses in important games is the general dissatisfaction among players with the state of Argentina’s federation. The federation is so dysfunctional that FIFA had to take over it’s management last week, and Messi took to his Instagram recently to publicly lament AFA’s inability to properly coordinate travel arrangements for the team. They can’t get their shit together and because of that the best team in the world might have just blown up, robbing soccer fans of some potentially great moments.

 

 “What the fuck, AFA?” – Messi, 2016.

 

For all of the missed opportunities at greatness on the international stage, Messi’s has enjoyed a great deal of success with his club team. Unlike with Argentina, Messi has reached the mountain top in La Liga. Barcelona has won eight La Liga titles, four UEFA Champions League titles, and four Copas del Rey with Lionel Messi leading the way. Because of all of this success, and all of the millions of euros he would be leaving behind, it seems highly unlikely that he will retire from soccer altogether.

 

Still it would be a shame if he does indeed retire from international play. We should all hope that he was just speaking out of anger, disappointment and frustration, because it would be a great loss for the entire soccer-loving world to see him walk away now. There’s too much talent in those legs for him to just give up like this. With any luck, he will take some time to reflect and decide to come back to the Argentine National Team in time for the next round of World Cup qualifiers this fall.

 

And if he does decide to leave Argentina’s team for good, I’m sure the US State Department can get him some sort of expedited citizenship so he can suit up for the USMNT… Too soon?

 

 


USMNT still has a long way to go

Written by :
Published on : June 23, 2016

 

 

Soccer is slowly becoming more and more popular here in the U.S. I just hope that what we all witnessed in the Copa America Centenario Semi-Final doesn’t turn too many new fans of the USMNT off from the game. Us Americans are pretty accustomed to the U.S. Men’s National Team underperforming on the big stages of international soccer, but the team has been much more interesting in recent years, and as a result more people have gotten into the sport.

 

In fact 8.1 million people here in the United States tuned in to watch our boys play against the #1 ranked team in the world, Argentina. You know, the team that also has the world’s best player, Lionel Messi. I knew before the game that we would have our hands full, but I had a sliver of hope that we could make the game interesting.

 

That hope began to fade quickly and substantially when Argentina’s Ezequiel Lavezzi scored in the 4th minute of play. When Messi scored on a free kick in the 32nd minute, I began to get very discouraged. I knew that there was very little chance of Argentina giving up that lead. But I still watched, hoping that we could put together something resembling competent and controlled soccer and at least lose in a respectable manner. Before the game, a 3-1 loss was something I told myself I wouldn’t be too upset about. That didn’t happen either. When it was all said and done, we lost 4-0. Brutal.

 

 Messi is almost impossible to stop when you’re playing your best. The USMNT didn’t stand a chance.

 

The USMNT advanced to the Copa America Semi-Final for only the second time ever, and that’s something to be proud of. But one thing is very clear after watching our team play against one of the best teams in the world, the USMNT still has far to go before they are to be considered legit world contenders.

 

It was painfully obvious that Argentina was in a league far above the Americans. Argentina plays a beautiful passing game that kept the U.S. chasing the ball for almost the entire 90 minutes. And when the U.S. did get possession, more often than not they made errant passes that quickly turned the ball over. With no shots on goal and very few chances overall, it was at times painful to watch. This is something that I’ve seen for a while now, and if it weren’t for the grit and determination of some of the U.S. players, I’m afraid we would lose like we did on Tuesday much more often.

 

We just don’t pass the ball well and miss people in space constantly. When compared to the best teams in the world, we look like amateurs. I appreciate everything that guys like Michael Bradley have done to help U.S. Soccer progress, but I am also looking forward to the next generation of players and hoping that they can pass the ball better than most of these guys.

 

 John Brooks had his hands full but played great in this tournament. We beed more guys like him.

 

That’s not to say that I wish to see everyone on the team get replaced right now. Clint Dempsey is still a very important member of the team, as evidenced by his four goals in the Copa America. And I wish we could clone John Brooks and have four of him on our back line, because he was a big reason that we made it as far as we did in this tournament. There’s other bright young stars like Bobby Wood, DeAndre Yedlin and the baby face 17 year old, Christian Pulisic, who should all give U.S. soccer fans a ton of hope for the future. But until these young guns fully take over the team, there will be more heartache when we face the great squads.

 

I don’t like every move that Jurgen Klinsmann has made since taking over the national team, but unlike some, I do believe he has progressed soccer in the United States of America. He will be the one who leads the team in to the World Cup in Russia in two years, and we have to get behind him for at least that long. We need to hope that over the next two years, he continues to develop the young, rising stars of the USMNT so that we can show the world, and some of the newer fans stateside, that we are a team worth taking seriously.

 

We’ve made progress, but we still have a long way to go before we can play with the big boys.

 

 


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