(Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

(Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

I have a sordid and pretty unpatriotic history with the US National Soccer Team.

I’m an American, so at heart I want the US team to do well on the world stage. I’ve also played soccer my entire life, so the sport is dear to me.

Therein lies the conflict, though. I like to watch beautiful soccer being played. I’m sure the players on the US team are very talented, but it seems like every 4 years when they play in the World Cup, they forget how to string together even the simplest of passes, especially in the attacking third. I find myself embarrassed to watch them play.

Today I felt that inner conflict again. It was great to see the US win. But let’s face it: They did not play well. They couldn’t control the ball for more than a few seconds. Their defense was porous (Ghana could have scored on several headers), and their lone forward was nowhere to be seen. I often saw them double-teaming Ghana’s players–what kind of an elite soccer player are you if you blindly run towards the ball like a herd of 6-year-olds?

I don’t have much hope for them against Portugal and definitely not against Germany (a team who, unlike the US, didn’t settle back in their own half after scoring once. They kept pushing and probing, flexing their muscles, and they came away with a 4-0 blowout, not a 2-1 nailbiter). I also don’t mean for this post to be purely negative, though. I genuinely want to root for the US, but I want to root for a US team that plays decent soccer.

These players have the ability to compete at a high level, even against good teams. Does it just get to their heads when they play at the World Cup? There must be some rational explanation for this. What do you think?