Re: USMNT: The March to Brazil - World Cup 2014
I was watching the Sunderland vs. Arsenal game yesterday and watched Altidore constantly. He played almost exactly like a football player who had switched to soccer in college. His timing on his runs is atrocious. He very rarely runs to the right spot (and you can tell that it bugs his teammates and the announcers). When it comes to the "flow of the offense", he didn't really fit in the way that the other players on both teams did. BUT, he did two things really well. First, he was great at being a target player by coming back to the ball, boxing out his defender, and essentially running a pick and roll. Second, he could muscle through a challenge (and forced a call which Martin Atkinson completely botched, he was probably expecting the offensive player to hit the ground as most soccer players tend to do). He should have gotten the goal.
As far as the general argument at hand. I do believe that there are many athletes who play the other sports that would have made fine soccer players, maybe even great ones. To me though, the difference isn't who is playing, but how we play. Soccer for American kids is an exclusively team/club sport. It is not a "street" or "pick-up" game for them. Teams tend to be regimented and drum out the creative genius that soccer needs to overcome the structure of the game. Here is an example of what I'm talking about. Everything I ever learned about fielding in baseball came from playing sandlot ball everyday, all summer, year after year. I learned to field horrible hops off a grass airport runway, run the bases, and all of the other instinctual aspects of the game. Then, when I joined the structural aspect of baseball, I refined those skills and brought them to the field within the context of a formalized game. It made me an excellent fielder (so that even as a lefty, I was always on the left side of the infield). Our soccer hasn't reached that point and can only progress so far until it does. Actually, if you look carefully around the US, you see these games everywhere, but they are played by our immigrant communities. Perhaps that is where we will see our big soccer jump.
Variatio delectat - Cicero