If Bob Bradley was…Roman Catholic

‘If Bob Bradley was…’ is a bi-wheneverIfeellikeit-ly look at US manager Bob Bradley’s version of famous speeches.  Today we take a look at JFK’s inauguration speech.

In Honor of USA’s Upset of Spain

We observe today not a victory of parity but a celebration of freedom—symbolizing an end not only to Spain’s run as world number 1 but as well the United States’ rise as a soccer power.  For I have sworn before you and Almighty God the same solemn oath our forbears prescribed a half-century ago when the US beat England 1-0 in the 1950 World Cup.

The world is very different now. For Landon Donovan holds in his mortal hands the power to convert penalties.  And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought in 1950, that American players can compete on the world stage, are still at issue around the globe because Jozy Altidore can’t seem to consistently crack the starting lineup at Hull City. They believed that that true success in the World Cup comes from hard work, talent and teamwork, not from the hand of Maradona.

We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of American athletes—born in the 1980s, tempered by the formative years of Major League Soccer, disciplined by a hard and bitter experience at the 2006 World Cup, and unwilling to witness or permit another last place finish like 1998.

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure advancement past the knockout stage.

This much we pledge—and more

To those new States, Mexico and Honduras, whom we journey with to South Africa on behalf of CONCACAF, we pledge our word that we shall cheer for your teams.  We shall not always expect to find you supporting us, particularly when we play in Mexico and you throw beer at Donovan. But we shall always hope to find you strongly supporting your own players—and to remember that, in the past, those who foolishly sought to play as beautiful soccer as Brazil ended up with the ball in their own net.

To those peoples in the huts and villages across the globe struggling to break the bonds of European and South American dominance in the cup, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves—not because we seek their votes to host the next World Cup, but because it is right.

And we think that we’d vomit if Cristiano Ronaldo and his perfect hair won.

To that world assembly of sovereign states, FIFA, our last best hope in an age where the spending habits of rich owners have far outpaced the instruments of free agency, we renew our pledge of support—to prevent Real Madrid and Manchester United from buying all our players and ruining our domestic leagues.

Finally, to those nations, Slovenia and Algeria, who would make themselves our adversary in the group stage, we offer not a pledge but a request: that both sides begin anew the quest for fair play, and please don’t pull a Zidane and headbutt our players.

So let us begin anew—remembering on both sides that slide tackles from behind are a sign of poor defending, and handballs are always subject to a free kick. Let us never have to foul out of fear of letting in a goal. But let the referee never fear to give a penalty.

And if a beachhead of cooperation may push back the jungle of suspicion, let both sides join in creating a fair World Cup, where the strong are just and the weak secure and even France gets called for handballs.

All this will not be finished in the next cup. Nor will it be finished in 2018, nor even perhaps in the lifetime of the great Pelé. But let us begin.

In your hands, Clint Dempsey, more than in mine, will rest the final success or failure of the World Cup. Since this country was founded, each generation of Americans has been summoned to give testimony to the skill of our soccer players. The young men who answered the call to service ended up in leagues around the globe, though mostly they were goalkeepers because we’re really stacked at that position for some reason.

Now the vuvuzela summons us again—not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need even though we can’t use our hands; not as a call to battle, though embattled we are because the referees seem to hate us—but a call against the common enemies of man: flopping, defensive formations, and Wayne Rooney himself.

In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending a nation’s pride at the World Cup. Tim Howard will not shrink from this responsibility—he welcomes it. The energy, the faith, the devotion, and the occasional uncontrollable twitch due to Turret’s which he brings to this endeavor will inspire his teammates and all who watch.

And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what a win in the World Cup would mean to you, ask what a win in the World Cup would mean for your country (And let us hope that it would mean something, because I’m kind of afraid everyone will be watching American Idol).

My fellow citizens of the world: ask not how you will beat the Americans, but how together we can make sure Italy doesn’t win again.

Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us the same high standards of fluid ball movement and excellent dribbling which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward because Brazil will probably win anyway and with hopefully competent referees the final judge of our deeds, let team captain Carlos Bocanegra go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that in South Africa 2010 God’s work must truly be our own.

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