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An American Soccer Fan’s Musings

With another United States – Mexico matchup on the books, let us take a moment to think about this rivalry in a broader context. I have drawn an interesting mix of criticism and praise for my suggestion that, at least right now, the Mexican side seems better than the American team. The United States has managed to dominate the series of late, in large measure because the American side has taken a more intelligent and calm approach to the rivalry. The Mexican players are more likely to boast unnecessarily, to commit foolish fouls, and to otherwise show the signs of a team under much greater pressure to win without the emotional resources to overcome its fans lofty expectations.
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That said, Mexican fans will likely eventually need to come to grips with the fact that the American team will not just continue their head-to-head dominance, but will also soon occupy a much more prominent role internationally. There are a number of reasons for this, but in my estimation here are the five biggest reasons:
1. Momentum. Isaac Newton famously noted that objects in motion tend to stay in motion. Despite the setbacks suffered in 2006 and 1998, over the last 15 years the United States has been on an incredible ascent. They used to be a mere exhibition opponent against top international competition- the quintessential homecoming opponent that you could beat up on and look great doing it. Now, the United States has become less phased by playing top South American and European competition.

On the other hand, Mexico has been very consistent. This is both good and bad; good because you can usually count on them to reach the Round of 16 at the Cup, but bad because they never really look like doing much more than that. To be sure, Mexico has a new crop of youngsters who look pretty classy, but it isn’t clear to me that Castillo, Guardado or Ochoa represent a clear improvement over Borgetti, Blanco or Marquez in their primes.

Now, the American fan needs to remember the second part of Newton’s maxim, namely that, “objects in motion tend to stay in motion, unless acted upon.” In international football, there are myriad forces acting against the continued ascent of any team. After all, to climb up the ladder, you have to do so at the expense of other nations, most of which are equally dedicated to improving, or at least maintaining, their position. As such, it’s always important to remember that it’s much easier to go from bad to good than from good to best.

2. Youth System. Though the American youth system has been much maligned for its apparent exclusion (or at least inability to include) of Latinos, blacks and urban youth, there are more good things about it than bad things. First, the sheer size of the system makes it the largest in the world. More American kids play soccer than Little League baseball and youth basketball combined. Though most kids eventually turn in their soccer boots for football cleats or high-top sneakers, this is slowly changing. With more kids playing organized soccer at an early age, the talent pool from which the next generation of players will be drawn is an order of magnitude bigger even than the one that produced Donovan, Beasley, Bocanegra and the rest of the current USA starters.

Critics of soccer in the United States love nothing more than to bash college soccer as detrimental to the development of the game in the United States. True, if the United States depends on college soccer to identify and develop its talents, then it is in trouble. What college soccer provides, though, is a forum for thousands of young people who might not be at their developmental apex in their teens, to continue to grow, develop and season into more polished players. A good analogy to draw is with the NBA. Great players like Kobe Bryant or Kevin Garnett will always look to begin their professional careers as quickly as possible, but the NBA is full of players who have elected to stay in college, often because they were not ready -either physically or in terms of the development of their game- right out of high school. Similarly, for every Adu or Altidore who begins his career early, there is an Edu or Dempsey who college to hone their games. As the United States progresses, I believe that many players (not most) will be college attendees or graduates, and this will provide a competitive advantage for the US. Perhaps as importantly, college soccer also provides a venue for players to develop their knowledge, thus eventually allowing them to join the next generation of coaches.

3. Major League Soccer. You really cannot underestimate the impact of the MLS on the growth of American soccer. All of the points that I make about the college system, apply them here at ten times the volume. For the most part, the league has been very well run, and though the near future likely will not allow it to compete with the top leagues in Europe, the day may be close at hand where the MLS has better quality at the top and greater depth throughout than does the Mexican league. Indeed, no reasonable observer would assert that Mexican league soccer will compete on the level of, for example, the Premiership before the MLS does. As is often the case when comparing American entities to their Mexican counterparts -in both sporting and non-sporting contexts- the United States simply has a much higher ceiling. People like CNNSI’s resident troglodyte Luis Bueno often lose sight of this important fact when uttering foolishness about Mexico winning a World Cup before the United States.

4. Money. You can’t buy happiness, you can’t buy love, and you can’t buy a championship, but having nice things doesn’t hurt, having a pocket full or money will make you a little more attractive to the ladies, and having enormous resources at your disposal can make pursuing a championship just a little easier.

By western European standards, soccer in the United States may seem like a relative pauper. The United States Soccer Federation does not have the riches or clout of the English FA or the DFB in Germany, but it does have resources. First, the substantial investment of Nike and other corporate sponsors has allowed the construction of some truly first-rate developmental facilities that have attracted increasingly impressive talent. In addition, if the relative prosperity of soccer families in the United States has a benefit, it is that top youth teams in the United States have access to training, fitness, facilities, nutrition science, travel, tournaments and clinics that far outpace what most Mexican youth have access to.

5. The weight of expectations. From the moment Landon Donovan’s header sealed Mexico’s fate in the 2002 World Cup, Mexico has slowly been ground down by the weight of unreasonable fan expectations that get constantly frustrated by their inability to beat their hated rival to the north. By contrast, American fans are fewer, generally less critical, and are not given over as much to histrionics when their team falls short. Distilled down, Mexican fans give the stick, and American fans offer carrots. For whatever reason, Mexico has never responded well to this adversity. Good teams can become psychically damaged by failing to meet expectations. Take England, for example. Certainly one of the top ten footballing nations in the world, their fans and players are in constant agony in large measure because they are not good enough to win the World Cup. They are a good team, maybe even a great team, but they haven’t been the best team in four decades. Similarly, Mexico is a good team, but just not a great team; same with the United States. The difference is that American fans have come to accept this reality (for now), while the Mexican fans have not.

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The Top Best Selling Soccer Jerseys

Each year what jerseys are the most popular tends to change depending on not only the type of the shirts and how they is performing but also who signs for the club. The success of teams on the area tends to be the greatest indicator as to what soccer shirts will be the biggest sellers but this year we have seen players who signal for clubs influencing the shirt sales more and more, before it is well known whether they will be successful for the membership.

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The sales of soccer jerseys will be boosted by the World Cup next yr as well as the African Nations Cup with national team shirts likely to be some of the biggest selling tshirts in 2010. In 08 Spain shirts were one of the greatest selling shirts of the season after their win in the Euro 2008 competition and this will likely be repeated with the person who performs well and is the winner the 2010 World Glass. The World Cup sports jerseys are already getting on sale since prep for the big event next year.

The best sort of this can be seen with Real Madrid this. Real Madrid spent over? 200 million in the summer signing some of the best players in the world, the most notable of which were Kaka and Cristiano Cr7. Ronaldo in particular induced a big soccer jersey buying frenzy when he was signed for a world record fee. Real This town shirts sold poorly last season with fortunes on the pitch not living up to their high standards, but this yr Real Madrid shirts are set to outsell every other soccer kit on the market.

Barcelona sports jerseys are also collection to be one of the most popular after their success last season, when they won the league, the cup and the Champions League. Barcelona’s shirt sales were raised again by the placing your signature to of Zlatan Ibrahimovic from Inter Milan, who when combined with the wants of Messi, Xavi and Henry, mention just a few, makes Barcelona china jerseys one of the most popular.

Other teams that are likely to be between the greatest sellers of the 2008-09 season are the likes of Gatwick United, Inter Milan, AIR CONDITIONER Milan and Liverpool. These kinds of teams have a huge following and constantly sell well worldwide. There will of course be a few surprise best offering soccer jerseys this season as teams play well and win tournaments but before the end of the season we will not likely be able to inform who these teams are and exactly how many soccer china jerseys they are going to sell.

There is a long way to visit in the season yet, and so the success and failing of teams could determine the amount of soccer jerseys sold for teams but it will take a great deal of to topple the actual Madrid and Barcelona sports kit sales this season. International shirt sales are likely to be the most important selling jerseys for 2010 with next years Globe Cup in South The african continent set to be one of the biggest ent