Hey, USSF person, if I do have your attention... can you do something, please? Do you have any idea how badly I want to love this team, how I have waited for the past two years, watching more and more nervously for something to happen during this long slow decline into Route One bootball? How I have fidgeted with increasing uneasiness as the program flailed around for the next Golden Girl who would carry on the cult of straight-girl-next-door personality the '99ers established as the only way soccer would hit the mainstream in this country? How my own teammates and I have been left gaping at the trainwreck of the Brazil game and its aftermath? When the program closes ranks not to solve problems caused by a coach and a system that have been exposed as ineffective, but to tag one player as a scapegoat over and over and over and then one more time for good measure, you've lost me. When you feed into the worst stereotypes of Mean Girls and middle-school cliques rather than proving yourselves athletes above everything else (hello, Nike?), you've lost me.
1999 is over. 2004 is over. Mia has retired. Thousands of young, capable, creative players are waiting in the ODP pools. What are you doing to ensure that creativity isn't being strangled out of them? What lesson are you hoping to teach by the performance and behavior of the senior National Team? That hard work and performance matter? Or that carrying the banner of the last truly successful team trumps everything else? Are you worried when you see little girls carrying signs that say "I love Mia?" Are you nonplussed when Nike markets more shirts with Mia's name and number than any other player's? You should be.
I want to love this team. I want to see my support echoed by a Federation that understands the value of meaningful live competition and international club play. I want to see my support echoed by the Fed's official partner (hello, Nike), not a series of demeaning ads that parody the lack of marketing and team development we've had in the past several years. But beyond that I want a group I can support. The "team" we have seen since the end of the World Cup is not the team I thought it was. When the team leader says out loud that no one's really sure what went wrong at the Cup, I worry. When the team leaders continue to pile on Hope Solo rather than addressing the overall problems with tactics and personnel that desperately need addressing, I worry.
I want my team back, USSF person. Thanks for your time.