Europe, Twice, Joel discussed on Slate's Hang Up and Listen


Platform after sunday night's instant classic between the men's national soccer teams of the united states and mexico. Our friends spencer hall tweeted a guy jumped off the broadcast and presumably straight into hell and it wasn't the tenth wildest thing i counted at least fourteen things that were arguably wilder not including first time commentator and longtime us hero. Clint dempsey's camouflage sports coat in the end. The usa came from behind twice to win three two on a christian pulisic penalty kick in like the four hundred and thirty third minute of play and collected the very first concacaf nations league championship trophy. Joel you never forget. Your first concacaf nations league championship the relatively low stakes however should not obscure either the utter insanity of this match or what it indicated about the future and even present of the men's team which sir rather significant i think you watched. Did you order a weston mckennie jersey right after the game because you should have you know he was born in little elm texas out a you know a. I'm just now learning this weston mckennie person but you said low stakes. The way people reacted yesterday. I thought that this was actually meaningful in some sort of way that admitted you qualified for the world cup or i don't get confused because there's so many concha caf competitions in the. Us team is on tv every few months. And everybody gathers around the tv to root for them and everybody gets really excited dramatic about the result. And then you find out. Oh wait actually doesn't have anything to do with welcome to soccer. Fandom joel matters because there are so few games right so this was an actual competition though and there is this distinction that between like a friendly match or match where you know where the managers trying out new players and something that actually has a title so you know i said relatively low stakes because no it's not qualifying the world cup. This was a bullshit manufactured tournament that is designed to generate some tv revenue in the absence. Sort of instead of a friendly match that has no prize attached. But josh there were real stakes here and that was like are all of these young terrific european-based players who are being thrown on the field together for basically the first time in any meaningful competition and in the run-up to the qualification for next year's actual world cup. How would they do. How did they do. Are you getting ping pong back and forth between calling in meaningful and meaningless about six to eight times getting meaningless. The the game itself and the what it portends are meaningful. It is possible to hold those two contradictory thoughts at once. Yes we're a complicated people with complicated thoughts so it was the first quote unquote competitive match for the us. Men's national team over five hundred days and it was meaningful for the fan base. Because there's been this sense of anticipation of will this be the generation fan to both kind of redeem it. The failures of the team that lost trying to add in two thousand seventeen and didn't make the world cup but also in a larger sense to bring the united states. Men's team to international glory and mexico is the measuring stick and has always been and probably will always be the measuring stick for the usa. Men's national team and it's gone back and forth of who's been the most dominant in the region. But i think there is always this anxiety about how we stack up against the mexican national team especially team. That's been really strong in recent years. And so that's why there is so much anticipation around this game. And that's why this victory i think is meaningful and not just to fans but you get the sense joel from watching the game and the reacting to it that it was really meaningful to these players to like. These guys had never played together in a game like this. And the fact that the goal scores were christian pulisic weston mckennie gio raina who are sort of like the leading figures of this new generation that also felt meaningful. We have to take your word for it right. it's meaningful familiarizing. Myself with the fee for international rankings. And because i was like okay excited about beating mexico even though this is a meaningful or meaningless match. We don't quite know the stakes. But i was like okay. Well let's see how good mexico actually is in. Mexico was ranked eleventh in the most recent fifa rankings. Us was number twenty. And i'm like okay. I guess that sounds pretty good. Like if the us is ranked somewhere between ten and twenty. Does that mean that they're returning to glory. Or you know what i mean like. I don't i just don't understand. I think the rank the fifa rankings are always kind of fraught but in particular since they haven't played a competitive match in more than five hundred days. I think the number of data points that we have to rely on about how good the uss but how good like really any team is right now. So i think this was kind of measuring stick for them. Obviously like you said. I mean the players were obviously hyped about it although i i can't imagine like as an athlete if you play and so international competition with some attached steaks and you win and that dramatic of a fashion that it wouldn't resonate to you not make you excited like i can totally get that but guess the thing is for me. Is that american soccer. fame's are always like living and dying by the results of the next game and it means something fans of any other team actually not because like basketball baseball. Maybe less football but like each week doesn't necessarily mean that you're gonna it makes it reflects onto the legacy of the upcoming team with it. The trajectory of team. Sometimes the game is just a game but in soccer. I'm finding out in particularly with the us men's national team that we don't feel that way that every game is a referendum on the status of the national team status in the world. And i mean. I guess it's sort of confusing to me to keep up with the last time. We did a segment on the us national team. They in one game and lost the game in the same weekend because there were two different thing than like people were frustrated with the us national team and all of a sudden. They weren't so like i guess. It just seems sort of exhausting to figure out which of these competitions actually matter in. Which should i take a lesson from because it just seems like every time it's different that's the beauty of international soccer. Joel i mean it really. Is you got to ride the wave of of emotion. A sort of a sign over value to every game. And that's kind of what it's about because look if you're the coach of the men's national team gregg berhalter of the us in this case who was not a beloved choice. He's like the brother of the one of the chief executives of us soccer at the time when he was hired. He's an american when there was a lot of clamor for the united states to go hire a prominent international coach who could nurture stars who were playing on top clubs in europe. The biggest collection of americans playing in top leagues overseas ever. So you don't play that many games. His job is largely recruiting and planning so every game does have this added meaning and then the mexico rivalry which i think you have to be. Blind not to see is incredibly intense. Both in the stands and on the field players don't like each other even if they don't know each other that well i mean. I mentioned that. I mentioned spencer halls tweet at the top but the game was insane. I mean mexico's scores a minute into the game..

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