Feeling the heat
Americans love nothing more than for their heroes to excel under pressure, says Alex Ferguson.
Last Updated: 25/06/10 12:18pm
There are no better stories on Wall Street than the kid who had nothing fighting his way to the top and making his fortune.
Serena and Venus Williams make the imagination come alive because their tennis was played in the bad areas of Los Angeles, not the prim and proper country clubs and tennis academies that most professional tennis players found themselves playing in as youngsters.
And Americans love the drama, too. Whether it's Michael Jordan firing in the last-second shot in the NBA Finals in Utah in 1998 to a driver winning in the last lap of Daytona 500 to a baseball hitter thumping a game-winning home run in the bottom of the ninth (heck, even Brandi Chastain taking off her top after scoring the winning penalty in the USA women's victory in the 1999 World Cup was a sporting highlight), the American viewing public never seems satisfied with a comfortable win.
They want the biggest heart attack possible, please. And this year's World Cup has given American fans just that. They must be emotionally exhausted - and they haven't even played their second round game yet!
And while the names Jay DeMerit, Jozy Altidore and Landon Donovan don't roll off the tongue when you're talking about members of a potential World Cup winning team, if you were looking back to the 1980s, you probably didn't think that an American ice hockey team would have a prayer of conquering the mighty Russians, either.
It's not that the USA was ever a horrible team on paper. They've beaten Spain, are ranked in the Top 20 in the world, they have an excellent goalkeeper in Tim Howard, and most of their starting XI play in the top divisions of European Football.
But it was just that they weren't meant to be as good as the world superpowers. Heck, one of the players will even play the 2010/11 season for free (defender Oguchi Onyewu for AC Milan), because he injured his knee and was out of the 2009/10 year of battle.
But frankly, we'd swap all of the pomp and circumstance of our 'better-on-paper' teams for what the USA has in abundance - and what we haven't seen a lot of from 2006 finalists France or Italy this tournament - self-belief.
This US team will keep coming back at you, even when you think you've got a game won. They were comprehensively outplayed by England, yet managed to scrape out a 1-1 draw. Sure, most of that was thanks to the appalling goalkeeping of Rob Green, but where would they have been without the amazing goalkeeping of Tim Howard?
Then there was the USA-Slovenia game. Overjoyed, I told an American fan that his team was losing 2-0 to the Slovenians, but then had to watch on, in disbelief and admiration, as the Americans picked themselves up and went on to draw even at 2-2.
And by the end of the game, the streets of New York should have been in celebration after Maurice Edu's goal went in, but the goal was disallowed. Why, exactly? I'm still scratching my head about it!
In the Algeria game on Wednesday, the USA were favourites. Algeria hadn't scored all tournament long, and despite some horrible finishing by Altidore and plain bad luck, it was 0-0 in the 92nd minute.
And now? The USA finds themselves as favourites to beat Ghana on Saturday night, and America is ready to explode if they do just that.
Anyone fancy a bet on them not doing it? I don't!