BY RBNY OPTIMIST
As fans, we all have a choice to make. You can be the type of fan that always believes the worst is right around the corner, the 10-ton anvil is about to fall out of the sky and the ground below your team is about to open up and swallow them whole.
Or, you can choose to believe the next three points are right around the corner, your striker is one goal away from a torrid hot streak and your young keeper will somehow figure out a way to stand on his head to ensure a clean sheet. The way you choose to go effects no one but you, and possibly your exasperated friends and loved ones.
But what about your team’s Head Coach? Of course one of their responsibilities is to prepare for the worst, but is it appropriate that they hope for, or rather choose to expect the best?
This topic comes up this week as we look back on an interesting and well-played draw in last week’s RivalryWeek ™ match between our New York Red Bulls and DC United, but also as we look forward to tonight’s high-high stakes match in Denver for the US Men’s National Team. All in all, it’s been a fascinating week to watch both teams’ coaches react to the events around them.
On the Red Bulls side, Head Coach Mike Petke (MIKE PETKE!!) chose to focus on the positive aspects of a match that he could have instead seen as two points dropped against their biggest rival — at home. It’s early in the season, and Petke was right to keep the attention on the obvious progress the team made last week: a much tighter defense, a free-flowing offense (at least in the Second Half) and a full 90+ minutes of effort from all involved to avoid any early goals or last minute collapses.
It’s been an even more interesting week over at the US Men’s National Team camp, as a story broke in The Sporting News this week with more anonymous quotes than a poorly-written middle school term paper. Quotes by players calling out the coach and his methods are not necessarily the best foundation to build confidence going into a World Cup Qualifying Match. This followed a roster selection announcement that spent almost as much time explaining who was injured and NOT coming as it did naming the players being called in.
Through it all, Jurgen Klinsmann, Herr Optimismus, kept a positive outlook. Yes, he admitted that tonight’s match against the Ticos was a “must win”. But, while all around him, fans and press were using the injuries and the injurious Sporting News article to declare a “Team in Crisis”, the consistently unflappable German kept a positive outlook.
Injuries? Unfortunate, yes, but it gives our young, up and coming guys a chance to step up and prove what they’ve got.
Anonymous quotes saying I’m clueless? “I think it’s a great sign,” Klinsmann actually said. Although he would have preferred the players come to him, it’s better to have it out in the open, and the huge press and fan reaction shows that us Americans are actually starting to really care about this thing called soccer and the World Cup.
Throughout his tenure, Klinsmann has kept a positive outlook and a long view. Even now, with the US a bit behind the 8-ball in this WCQ round, he’s keeping a long-term outlook. Don’t panic. Stay focused on progress. A setback now builds a stronger team in the future. This, my friends, is optimism at it’s best. Let’s see where it gets us.