Team USA’s four-goal victory Wednesday night in the group stage of Copa America felt a little flat. It was exciting just for the fact the 2-0 loss to Colombia in Friday’s opener was still so fresh.
But from the point Clint Dempsey drilled home the penalty kick in the ninth minute against Costa Rica, it was just 81 minutes of making sure nothing shocking was going to transpire. A couple yellow cards for the U.S. side but largely it was a flip back every so often to the tv, twitter feed, live-scoring stream or <insert your favorite media device of choice> to make certain and read about the details in the morning paper.
That’s somewhat reassuring that faith in the U.S. squad has reached that level, but also that both have so far still to go — the team to reach the level where Friday’s loss was shocking or at least unexpected, and the support base to expand enough and be rabid enough that they wanted to turn away from a 14-goal lead by the United States in match played outside the World Cup fervor.
The nation still moves gradually towards that end. Certainly the repercussions of the AYSO youth explosion of the 90s has fed into that as those once young players approaching midlife carry a larger interest in soccer than the generation before.
With that in mind, here’s a few soccer items of note:
• There was certainly a degree of shock when Heritage soccer coach Nick Bradford made the move from Heritage to Hardin Valley earlier this month. Bradford, who left Heritage for a year to teach and coach at Baylor, returned last fall to coach both the boys’ and girls’ programs.
It’s another great opportunity for a talented coach, who has succeeded at Heritage with a hard work approach to fundamentals, in a very deeply talented district. Which makes the fact he’s now on the other side of that same district even tougher. Having the former Maryville College player (2002-2005), with six seasons as head coach for the boys and one with the girls, directing the Hawks sort of shows how much respect he earned around the area for his efforts.
The mathematics teacher position Bradford held was posted as a new opening by Blount County Schools on Tuesday.
Adding the transitions up it makes athletic director Robbie Bennett’s next hire as soccer coach the third head coach in three seasons for both programs.
• It will be strange to see Bill Stooksbury on the other side of the field at John Sevier Elementary this fall. The longtime coach of Maryville’s girls resigned his position back on March 31, just four months after taking the program to its first state tournament, and first state tourney victory.
Boys’ coach Steve Feather was tapped to take over the girls’ team this fall and his success in the spring should also prove a strength in the fall. It’ll just be different.
• Of course the competition between the club teams and the prep teams may be heating up this fall. Under the direction of TSSAA, Tennessee is one of the only states that splits prep soccer seasons, most states play both in the spring. It makes for some interesting decisions for students at times and the announcement by US Club Soccer that it was forming a new fall league — VSL, the Volunteer State League — just makes it more so.
According to a release from the league, “The club-driven league has been spearheaded by Chattanooga FC, FC Alliance and Tennessee Soccer Club. It will feature U-9 through U-19 programming, divvied by a U-9 through U-12 academy division and a U-13 through U-19 state league for second and third division teams.
“Among the Volunteer State League’s plans are creating a state championship with advancement to US Club Soccer’s National Cup Regionals and hosting an annual Player Development Program event.”
• Remember the Knoxville Force (NPSL) and Lady Force (WPSL) both have home games coming up June 13 and June 14 at the Samson Sports Complex on Dale Avenue in Knoxville.