Stuck in a rut.
That is where the United States Men’s National Team seems to be right now. Since 1990, when the USA first started regularly qualifying for World Cups, there has not been too much of a worry about qualification. Every USMNT head coach has been able to do it. Several of them have done it more than once. Yet here we sit, just prior to the Antigua & Barbuda match in qualifying, and supporters are concerned not about qualifying for the World Cup but about qualifying for the Hexagonal in order to qualify for the World Cup.
American soccer fans are tabloid journalists reporting on child stars. If there is one thing we love, it is building up our young players and then watching them crash and burn. We do it all the time. After all, what is more interesting to watch than the crashing and burning of someone with a big ego – even if it was us who created that ego to begin with?
Granted, we still hold out hope that Freddy Adu will reinvent himself a la Neil Patrick Harris. Harris, the child star who donned magazine covers, could not make it big in movies, then became a scene stealer on a much smaller stage, is a career path that Adu could follow. Adu, of course, is the child star who donned Sprite commercials, could not make it in the big world of European football, and we are all hoping he becomes a scene stealer in the much smaller world of MLS.
Like with Doogie, there are those of us who still hope he will turn into a superstar on the biggest stages of the National Team, but there are also those who hope he crashes and burns from his current level of success. Yet, it was us, the fans along with MLS, US Soccer, and even Pele, who built up young Adu. We gave him his alleged ego. He was always good, but never great. Thus is the case for many a young soccer protégée and many a child actor as well, but even with slight failures not everyone completely crashes out.