What can we learn from the 2006 World Cup USA Soccer Team?

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Team USA loses. 2006 World Cup: history. Fifth-ranking: gone. Coach blames refs. Like the first game with the Czechs, Coach doesn't blame self. What else is new?

Arena kept on talking in the referee's direction after the penalty kick until an assistant coach pulled him away. He also waved his arm at Merk when the final whistle sounded, turned and walked off, leaving American players out on the field...Blame referee Markus Merk for the United States going out of the World Cup.

Even worse:

No, blame FIFA for not seeding all 32 teams and the Americans getting a tough group. Or FIFA's mandate that referees give yellow cards for the slightest challenges. Bruce Arena had a list of reasons why his players didn't qualify for the last 16 of the World Cup by losing 2-1 to Ghana on Thursday.

Blah.

Blaming who?

What if Coach stopped blaming others for his team's lackluster results? What if he didn't get so riled up over the bad call--a decision that happened with a full & fresh 45-minute half to go? ...and instead, focused on scoring? Where's the blame for his coaching? The lack of a forceful strategic attack? The lack of strikers? The horrible 5-4-1 format? Etc. Etc. Etc. When leaders start blaming others, they ignore their own problems--problems within their grasp, within their means, within their abilities to solve.

Deal with it.

Bad play-calling is a thing of life, whether it's on the field, in a courtroom, or being judged on a project. You could try worrying about it, but that'd just drain your energy to focus on what matters more: Things you can, should, and must control.

Stop the blame game. Start looking at yourself.

For Team USA soccer to rebound in 2010, it's time to look for a successor who looks in the mirror when things go awry.

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Posted on June 22

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