USA on the Trail to Triumph

The USA National Soccer team was put in a group that included three very good teams. Just after the groups were announced for the 2014 World Cup, many people, including myself, lost hope and thought the US had little to no chance of advancing.

Many people lost hope after Landon Donovan was cut from the 23-man roster. Donovan was the face of the US team for years, and has the most goals for the US Men’s Team of all time. Things were not looking ideal for the USA out of the gate.

But actually, things couldn’t have gone better in Group G’s first games. The USA beat Ghana and Portugal lost to Germany 4-0. This is great for many reasons. First, the US has 3 points. Second, Portugal lost their best defender, Pepe, to a red card, so he can’t play against the USA. Thirdly, Portugal’s goal differential is very bad now, so it’ll be hard for them to win a tiebreaker.

Now, this is the point where I really gained confidence that the USA could make a run in this World Cup, and they did extremely well, surprising many people. Look, if you were going to tell me that the USA would advance to the knockout stage, I would have said,”No way.” However, they did.

Jermaine Jones celebrates after scoring the equalizing goal against Portugal

Jermaine Jones celebrates after scoring the equalizing goal against Portugal

This World Cup has been very interesting to watch, especially to see Spain, Italy, Portugal, and England be knocked out in the group stage. The excitement of this international tournament has gotten to me, and all I want to do is play soccer! I have been playing soccer a lot recently, after watching the World Cup.

For some reason, when I watch a sport, I always want to play it. Well, I probably would want to play anyway, but you know what I mean. So, now that the exciting World Cup is on, I have been playing soccer more and more. It’s actually probably good, considering I have to try out for the high school soccer team in the fall. After playing goalie for most of the time in my soccer career so far, I’m electing to play in the field in high school.

I played goalie more because I had to, not really because I wanted to. Also, there are few goalies going to my high school that are very good, so I probably won’t play a lot there anyway. And usually, I don’t really watch soccer at all. I don’t really have any interest in club soccer, so usually I’m only motivated to play baseball, basketball, or football. But the World Cup is like March Madness except international teams, and it’s soccer.

It’s even more exciting when your home country plays well. Many people doubted Jurgen Klinnsman (The USA Coach) and his team, but they surprised many people in this World Cup.

Despite getting knocked out by a talented Belgium team, the future is bright for our country in terms of soccer. We have a very young team, that has lots of potential. In the 2014 World Cup, we saw flashes of greatness from very young players, including John Brooks’ goal against Ghana and Julian Green’s goal against Belgium. The rest of the world should look out for the USA in 2018!

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Springing Into Action

 

That was probably the longest winter ever. There was a ridiculous amount of snow, and it just stayed there forever. And still, in late March, we had days below freezing. That’s just insane.

This was bad for three reasons. First, I got sick way too much. Second, I slipped and fell numerous times on ice. Third, and more importantly, baseball and soccer came around too fast.

Usually, I play winter soccer, so I’m already in the zone. However, this year I chose not to play two sports in the winter, coming off a torn MCL. The snow didn’t go away until recently, and we have had our first practices for soccer on turf, since the fields are too wet.

I actually thought I was going to be rusty, but for some reason soccer always comes back to me easily. After all, it is (in my opinion) a lot less complex than baseball. Point is, I thought I played pretty well after missing a whole season.

Baseball, is a different story. Opening day is supposed to be tonight. That is unlikely, considering it’s been raining so much. Regardless, I haven’t been on a baseball field in months.

Baseball is a sport that takes time to get into rhythm. I would say a lot of the kids in my league play only baseball, so they are practicing year round. However, I always have a different sport in every season.

So, I haven’t been playing baseball. At all. I am probably going to be pretty rusty, and not so great my first time out on the field. I am really hoping my swing comes back, because I thought I hit the ball pretty well in the fall.

And boy, that swing has been all over the place in the past couple of years, and I definitely know what a slump feels like. If the weather permits, hopefully we can get some practices good practices in, so I get comfortable before the 1st game.

I have several goals this season, but one of them is to master the changeup. Everyone throws a curveball now, but no one really has an effective changeup.Also, the greatest benefit of a changeup is that it doesn’t hurt your arm like curveballs.

Many people have told me to put three fingers on the ball for a changeup. Problem is, I throw my fastball with three fingers, which gives me more control. I personally value control more than speed. And honestly, the three-finger grip is more comfortable for me. However, I’m definitely going to start throwing it with two fingers.

If I can master a changeup, I will have an effective off-speed pitch that won’t hurt my arm. That’s an ideal weapon for any pitcher. And last but not least, there is something else that is a necessity in baseball- looking good.

You have to look sharp when you’re out there. It’s a MUST. I have my evoshields, wristbands, and I ordered my new cleats. Unfortunately I couldn’t get metal cleats since they’re prohibited in the recreational league, but I still got some nice cleats.

As you can see, I’m pretty excited for baseball, and soccer. After all, this is my last spring of soccer and baseball, before I go on to play High School sports. I look forward to finishing my rec baseball and Cougar soccer career!