From: Gonzalez, John

To: Ford, Bob; Fox, Ashley
Subject: Getting kicked around

I'm watching the U.S. vs. Brazil soccer match in the FIFA Confederations Cup. The game is barely 20 minutes old, and already the Brazilians are up two goals - or, as our friends who like the other football might say, two nil. Why is it that a country as large as ours, with as many resources and talented athletes as ours, can't field a soccer team that can truly compete with the elite clubs in international competition? Every year I hear how many young kids play soccer in the States. So why aren't they growing up to be American Kakas?

By the way, Robinho scored Brazil's second goal and celebrated by sucking his thumb. I'm not making that up.

From: Ford, Bob
To: Gonzalez, John; Fox, Ashley
Subject: Getting kicked around

Not sure what's new in the Robinho family, but that's usually a sign, particularly among Latin players, that they recently celebrated the birth of a child, and the thumb-sucking is a little shout-out to the tyke.

If the best athletes in the United States played soccer, as do the best athletes in these other countries, we would have the best soccer team in the world. That isn't the case, however. Very simple. Plus, the regimented nature of player development favored by U.S. Soccer, in my opinion, turns us into a nation of solid midfielders but doesn't produce elite free-form strikers. Other than not being able to score, we actually do very well, although that is somewhat of an oversight.

From: Fox, Ashley
To: Ford, Bob; Gonzalez, John
Subject: Getting kicked around

Bobby is the soccer guru here, but like you, John, I've been hearing for 20 years how soccer was exploding in this country. Sure, youth leagues are filled up, but with a few exceptions that interest hasn't translated to the international stage. And that's fine. American football is king here, and I just can't imagine that changing - ever.

As for the thumb-sucking, some habits are hard to kick.

From: Gonzalez, John
To: Ford, Bob; Fox, Ashley
Subject: Getting kicked around

It's 3-0, now. The color guys on ESPN are not very impressed with what the U.S. side has done - or, rather, failed to do. They aren't putting any pressure on Brazil, and that whole scoring thing Buttons was talking about seems to be a real issue. So much for making a game of it.

Ashley, since you're expecting, I think you should adopt what Bobinho is saying and suck your thumb while participating in Talkin'.

From: Ford, Bob
To: Gonzalez, John; Fox, Ashley
Subject: Getting kicked around

The color guy is John Harkes, who thinks he and his era of U.S. players invented the game. Of course, when they had their big shot against Brazil in 1994, they didn't score, either, despite being a man up for about half the match.

From: Fox, Ashley
To: Ford, Bob; Gonzalez, John
Subject: Getting kicked around

Well, if I did that, I wouldn't be the first Talkin' participant to suck their thumb, would I?

From: Ford, Bob
To: Gonzalez, John; Fox, Ashley
Subject: Getting kicked around

No, the second.