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Lesson For U.S. Future: Holding Leads Means World Cup Wins

Echoing the frustration felt from dedicated footy fans to fair-weather "Sports Center" followers, the New York Times' Michael Lewis provides perhaps the understatement of the U.S. Soccer year, saying "if the U.S. national team wants to make any sort of an impact in next year's FIFA World Cup, it will have to find a way not to lose the lead," bemoaning the fact that "the USA has done it twice in the past two months against quality teams and it has cost them big time."

While this is absolutely true on paper, it's worth pointing out that holding on to a lead against the like of a supremely talented, trophy hungry Brazil team or a tirelessly attacking, Azteca-energized Mexican team ain't easy, whether you're the USA or Spain or any of the world's top teams. Still, Lewis does have a point that "the U.S. must learn to nurse leads if it wants to be taken seriously internationally, especially next year in South Africa. It's as simple as that."

When you consider that, historically, "teams that score first in the World Cup win more than 70 percent of their games," it's clear that to advance on the biggest of stages next summer, and to be able to capture more of the hearts and minds of casual American sports fans that feel let down by blown leads in big games, the USA needs to be able to pull through as in the 2-0 win over Spain and the monumental victories over Portugal and Mexico in 2002.



Read the whole story at MLSnet.com »

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