Monday, October 22, 2007

Ding Dong?

Greg Ryan's gone. Now what? A committee is being put in place to select a new coach in the next month or so, with Mia Hamm expected to play a significant role. So does this signal a fresh start, or can we expect more of the same good ol' girls approach that brought us 2003 and, now, 2007?

Names are being bandied about, Gebarra and DiCicco and Sundhage and Smith. Will the new guy or gal have the power and courage to clean house from top to bottom? The US program is at the point, given the recent result in China, of needing to decide what the top priority is. Is it winning, no matter whose egos get bruised in the process, or is it carrying the banner of one great decade and the two Cup wins and handful of great players it contained?

Football, soccer, basketball, sport--sport, as any other human endeavor, requires building on experience in order to propagate success. We can nod in recognition and respect of great names and great accomplishments, but it has to be in passing. We should take them with us, but sometimes that needs to be as lessons learned rather than as teammates. Great names who won great victories are absolutely necessary to build a tradition. But in order to produce continuing success for their teams, they need to come with fast legs and quick reflexes or the game passes them by at a sprint. Basking in past glory is for the Hall of Fame.

Building for the future means painful decisions. The stagnation evident at the World Cup should leave no roster spot guaranteed. The modern game--you know, the one Ryan so memorably declared was about boot-and-run--belongs to Brazil and Germany, and is built on technical precision, small-ball buildup, individual creativity, and speed. If you can't keep up, you can't compete.

Where do we go from here? No idea. Is nine months long enough to get there? We'll see.

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