The talk of France ...

After spending weeks building up "l'ogre américain," the French press took the USA down a notch or two -- of course -- after its 2-1 victory over Spain. It was the first time the USA has been tested at the Women's World Cup, and Le Parisien, the Paris tabloid, found plenty of holes in the U.S. team to give hope to Les Bleues that Friday's match might not be the hopeless matchup it was portrayed after their labored win over Brazil on Sunday night. The USA's ugly face, its reporter noted, is its backline with holes in the form of a pair of outside backs made of gruyere that the French wingers should be able to wade through. Continuing the cheese analogy, the U.S. center backs were described as equally moldy, "the two worst players on the team, technically speaking," when their positioning wasn't questioned.
18 comments about "The talk of France ...".
  1. frank schoon, June 25, 2019 at 7:17 a.m.

    We don’t get this type of opinions from our American soccer press. I long to hear critical interpretations from  the American press in general but they prefer cheerleading. The Dutch ,Spanish press likewise have a critical eye on things which you don’t get from the American press. This is why the American fan is the least educated on soccer, for by being critical it gives the mind food for thought  which makes one think about what  is stated. It is not only the American sport press but also American soccer commentators on tv who say absolutely nothing of substance or anything critical. Likewise, SA needs to become more in depth and insightful and get more into the nitty gritty , nuts and bolts about soccer. Quit being so PC in the American soccer press.   

  2. To Jo, June 25, 2019 at 11:27 a.m.

    Good thing the best defender in the USA Jaelene Hinkle was left home.  Serves her right for refusing to fly Coach Jill's rainbow flag! Because at the World Cup, PC social justice statements are more important than fielding the best team. Pathetic. 

  3. Bob Ashpole replied, June 25, 2019 at 11:44 a.m.

    You are not doing Hinkle any favor. If people were to believe you, they would think that Hinkle wasn't selected because she can't get along with other people. That isn't true. She is in fine company. A lot of excellent players get cut. She just didn't make the cut this time. Being cut is part of life for an athlete. She is young still and there will be other opportunities for her.

  4. Ben Myers, June 25, 2019 at 1:18 p.m.

    Unfortunately, a very large percentage of the sports journalists who cover soccer in this country know little about the game, so they do not know enough to say something critical.  Then, too, we have Fox Sports waving the flag 24/7, not daring to say anything that might be deemed as negative.  Horrors, another TV network might be chosen to air (or cable) the next World Cup.

    One of the serious challenges facing USSF is to seed the world of US sports journalism with people who can write effectively and with good knowledge about our sport.  Either USSF does not recognize this, or gives it a low priority, or does not know how to go about doing it.  But it is absolutely critical to elevating the game to its appropriate level in this country, comparable to the four that garner the most coverage: baseball, American football, basketball, and hockey.  

    It remains confounding that John Henry's Boston Globe, my hometown broadsheet paper, gives such scant coverage to Bob Kraft's oft mediocre New England Revolution.  The Revs recent US Open loss got maybe 1/8" of coverage in the columns that summarize sports scores.  Henry's Liverpool would benefit from better soccer coverage in the Globe, which seems to have one sportswriter writing with any competence about the sport.

  5. frank schoon replied, June 25, 2019 at 2:13 p.m.

    Ben , even those journalists who do specialize in soccer, don't know enough. Take SA for instance, where have ever read something that goes into the nut's and bolts of things...
    I would love for them and have suggested to them to Interview Tata, or Frank de Boer...I even suggested to them to interview Tonny Bruins Slot, Cruyff personal assistant and scout. Can you imagine what knowledge you can gain reading about what he has to say....
    Instead we get interviews ,four like from Ramos that say absolutely nothing or from others....

  6. R2 Dad, June 25, 2019 at 3:50 p.m.

    Fair play to Le Parisien, they've noticed the clear weakness in our lineup (but forgot keeper, where we replaced the best in the world because of political reasons). But this has been the direction of the USWNT for quite some time--attacking talent throughout the 11, slotting midfielders into the outside back positions rather than real defenders. To a certain extent, Eliis' choices have made sense. Using Dunn and O'hara (who can double duty as midfielders) works for 98% of all the opponents we face. It's only against the other 2%, in the quarter-finals/semis/final in the World Cup, where we actually need real defenders. And then when you need them, it becomes painfully clear you don't have them. Eliis' compromise this cycle has been to try and convert centerbacks to outside backs, but as we've seen that has been a failure. In the future, our USWNT coach may instead try to select outside backs that can also double as centerbacks--that's how the men do at top clubs. Meanwhile, it won't matter until we see some pacy wingers continually flaming our outside backs over and over without finding a remedy in 90 minutes. And THEN maybe the lightbulb turns on.

  7. Bob Ashpole replied, June 25, 2019 at 5:04 p.m.

    Dunn and O'Hara are both great players regardless of position. Both are playing at fullback because that makes for the strongest team. Solo was the best keeper in the world--was. She is retired. I am really surprised at those comments coming from you.  

  8. R2 Dad replied, June 25, 2019 at 7:50 p.m.

    Bob, Dunn and O'Hara ARE both good players--no one doubts that. But they are the equivalent to a Marcelo-type player who wants to get forward. In the near future when Germany, France and Spain have more technical players than we do, have more possession throughout the match and get speed demons on the wings, we will need (in my opinion) actual defenders who know how to defend well, not just converted midfielders. I don't think Ellis believes that, I don't think the Nats silo believes that, and it sounds like you don't believe that either. But the men's side have specialists who know how to shut down attackers--a lot of Italian greats come to mind. If you were correct, we should have world class defenders in the US by now, but we don't.

  9. Bob Ashpole replied, June 26, 2019 at 12:01 a.m.

    I am a midfielder at heart and no doubt that distorts my view of things--which is that the midfielders are the real defenders. The back line is just there to keep to clean up any bad passes that manage to stay in play. :)

    Of course you forwards only exist to tap in a pass now and then after the midfielders get bored scoring.

    My real view? There are only 2 positions--keeper and field player. Positions are assigned based on the game plan and who is available. When I do talk about positions, I speak of all flank players as just one position. Wingers defend and fullbacks attack too. Who plays in front of who and on which side depends more on who is available and who is the opponent than the labels on the roster.

    I called myself a right midfielder, but I never played there competitively. I was two-footed and there was never enough left-footed players.

  10. Bob Ashpole replied, June 26, 2019 at 12:06 a.m.

    You mentioned Italian defenders. The obvious response is Beckenbauer. He was even a converted midfielder too.

  11. Bob Ashpole, June 25, 2019 at 5:29 p.m.

    Personally I think SA and other US reporters that specialize in soccer do a fine job. Between them and Jonathon Wilson, I am very satisfied with the level of reporting.

    I feel differently about TV commentators and broadcasts, but at least I control the mute button. 

    Reporters have a difficult job. Interviewing a coach is like interviewing a politician. Often the subject controls the questions as well as the answers. When I was a trial lawyer, at least I got to chose the questions that I asked subject to the Judge's review, but I didn't control the answers. 

    The line between reporting and commentary is blurred in sports journalism, but generally speaking I don't pay much attention to commentary. I am interested in reading other opinions and learning more about the game, but everyone that knows me knows that I have no shortage of my own opinions.

  12. frank schoon replied, June 25, 2019 at 7:13 p.m.

    Bob, talking about nuts and bolts of the game, what drills, opinions on how to play, weaknesses of certain aspects of a system ,opinions on training ,etc......I could go on all night enumerating interesting about the game....
    This has nothing to do with interviewing a politian-like. Interviewing Cruyff, de Boer ,Tata,for example  about the game itself can generate so much  new knowledge. I have yet to find a decent soccer journalist here who can even ask interesting questions about the game. Having been brought reading Dutch soccer journalists is totally different from the drivel given by journalist is totally different. For example, all these years reading SA I’ve yet to find one interview that I found interesting when it comes to real soccer insights , nuts and bolts stuff. For example I would like to SA interview some of the Atlanta players and asked what they have learned new or what new perspectives on the game itself...

  13. Bob Ashpole replied, June 26, 2019 at 12:19 a.m.

    Frank, for many years I have tried to find stuff like that. I finally gave up. Coaches will talk publicly in general terms, but the interesting stuff is mostly their game plans, which they rarely discuss for obvious reasons. (I always get a kick out of the TV broadcasts interviewing the coach before the halves expecting him to reveal his game plans. Duh!)

    It is extremely difficult to find stuff like that. I can recall rewatching a video in Dutch where Cruyff was discussing tactics with other people. There was an English translation, but like most English translations I have seen, it doesn't do a good job of translating the technical terms.

    I had the same problem with some recent books about Pep Guardiola. The author and Pep were conversing in Basque, the book was written in Spanish, and I was reading an English translation by the same translators who do romance novels. The height of absurdity was in one paragraph there was three different terms used to describe the centerback. At least I think it was talking about one position rather than three different ones. One of the terms was clearly British ("centrehalf") and certainly not used by the author or coach.  

  14. frank schoon replied, June 26, 2019 at 7:12 a.m.

    Bob, I have material for over 40 years, interviews , back and forth discussions, no problem, great stuff, but I get my info from Holland soccer magazines books not from American soccer journalists who are totally clueless and the American tv commentators represent the ethos of the lack substance on soccer the America journalist exemplify.
    Agree with you on the translation situation which happens once in a while, but those are the exceptions. It has nothing to do with translation problems but the mindset of American soccer or rather all sport journalists here of which Sports Illustrated is a perfect example. When I came to this country that is the first thing I noticed about sport journalism, whereas in Holland we go into the details ,the why’s and How’s, here they are more interested in the pageantry and side issues that has nothing to do with the game. The mentality is totally different here. 
    You mean to tell me if SA interviewed de Boer and asked about what  he learned from Cruyff, what he learned about the positioning game from him,what to look for when he scouts a team, what he thinks American players need to improve on, what he thinks about Pickup soccer  and how did he learn his game..etc,etc,etc...I could go on with this all day asking him questions like that. And you’re telling me, “I don’t think we’re not going to get the jest of this info due to translation problems..”. Sorry ,I don’t buy it....

  15. Bob Ashpole replied, June 26, 2019 at 9:13 a.m.

    Frank, those are all great questions that don't get into game plans or other sensitive areas.

    Have you ever thought of doing some journalism yourself?

  16. frank schoon replied, June 26, 2019 at 9:45 a.m.

    Love to do journalist work on soccer for I know I can make it interesting for whenever I express myself I do it in a way that the reader will learn something of the game. I would make sure I'd run by you and Ships, and Bob and R2 to bounce it off you guys, for you guys are great at expressing yourself verbally much better than I would be capable of.   :-)

  17. Ginger Peeler, June 26, 2019 at 1:34 a.m.

    Bob, it’s not just the technical stuff that, literally, “loses something in the translation”.  Back in the 60s, preparing to move to Denmark, I took a night class in Danish at the U of CA. The instructor pointed out some of the difficulties and nuances involved in translations. Specifically, that literal translations often completely fail to capture the true meaning, or intent, of a sentence.  This is especially true in sports coverage, where idiomatic expressions run rampant.   He pointed out that idiomatic expressions can rarely be reliably translated correctly unless the translator is steeped in the languages involved. His example? Here in the USA, we’ll say, “he put his foot in his mouth”. Translated literally into Danish, it comes across as a contortionist making some bizarre move. To get the gist of our American expression, the Danes will say he “sto po spinaten”. Literally translating that to English, you’re saying he “stepped in the spinach”. 

  18. Bob Ashpole replied, June 26, 2019 at 9:23 a.m.


    I so envy Frank his language skills. I took 2 years of Spanish in college, but phrases like "Hello, where is the library?" and "This is my pencil" don't get me far. :) Seriously, we weren't taught idiom in college, and obviously not taught specialized sports terms either. 

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