By Gary Dudney My book The Tao of Running: Your Journey to Mindful and Passionate Running could just as easily have been entitled How to Embrace the Suck or Embracing the Suck because one way or the other learning how to “embrace the suck” is part of every chapter in the book. Now why is that? Running has a mysterious way of getting under your skin. You set out on a little jog looking to get some exercise and the next thing you know you’re a committed, even a fanatical runner. But what is not mysterious about running, is that eventually it is going to suck. Train hard at all, try lowering your PR (personal record) for the 10K, or take on those last six excruciating, devastating, soul-crushing miles of a marathon, and you’ll know what I mean. So which is it? Is running this wonderful thing that you are drawn to like a duck to water or is it luring you into “it sucks to be you” territory. Both…and that is a good thing. Running does feel natural and invigorating. You feel your body adapting, getting stronger. But inevitably as you run faster and farther and push yourself harder, you will get to a bad place. You will feel awful, and suddenly you will find yourself in a crisis of character. How will you respond? Will you slack off and quit or will you find a way to take on the challenge, embrace the suck, and triumph over the adversity? Running gives you that opportunity over and over again. But isn’t that the most rewarding thing about life, when you have to overcome adversity, when you have to face down the hard things and win through? No wonder so much of The Tao of Running is about how best to embrace the suck. When it comes to getting the most out of your running, that’s really the whole point! About Gary Dudney Long time columnist for Ultrarunning magazine, Gary Dudney is thrilled to share his hard-won understanding of the mind of the runner from being “out there” himself during 40 years of running. He’s written advice pieces and adventure stories for all the major running magazines. He’s completed over 200 marathons and ultramarathons, including fifty 100 mile races.
What is Functional Fitness Anyway, by Lamar Lowery Lamar Lower, author of Functional Fitness, has also built his own fitness academy. In this blog, Lamar explains what exactly is functional fitness. Functional fitness is training in a way that requires your muscles to work together, or in other words, work in the way they were supposed to. Instead of focusing on a particular muscle group at a time as you do with conventional weight training, functional training recruits more muscle groups by using more primal movements that require your muscles to work in harmony. Some of the issues or negative aspects of conventional weight training come from it requiring non-natural muscle contractions or movements. This can sometimes lead to injury (usually when you least expect it). It could be argued that these non-essential muscle contractions also do not improve or contribute to muscular stability and/or mobility but I’ll save that for another post! Just in case you are not fully convinced yet, I put together some reasons why you should implement some functional fitness training into your workouts or routine. If you're a personal trainer and looking for new ideas for your next raining session, look no further, Lamar Lowery has developed his own training programs that he has used for decades working with top managers, injured athletes, and back patients. Functional Fitness provides intense workouts to reach maximum results. Detailed descriptions and photos make this an easy-to-understand guide for any personal trainer. In Lamar's personal training sessions, he uses his expertise in endurance, coordination, and biomechanics to receive the best results. Lamar uses the most up-to-date equipment, e.g., suspension trainers, Dual Grip Med Balls, and kettlebells, and the classics such as barbells and dumbbells. After making his functional fitness a part of your training regime, you will help your clients add exercise into their busy lifestyle, reach their goals, and improve body, mind, and soul. The preceding has been brought to you by CPG News & Information
Calm Yourself with Calming Foods Neurotransmitters are the brain chemicals that communicate information throughout your brain and body. The brain uses neurotransmitters to tell your heart to beat, your lungs to breathe, and your stomach to digest. They can also affect mood, sleep, concentration, weight, and can cause adverse symptoms when they are out of balance. Neurotransmitter levels can be depleted many ways. It is estimated that 86% of Americans have suboptimal neurotransmitter levels. Stress, poor diet--protein deficiency, poor digestion, poor blood sugar control, drug (prescription and recreational), alcohol and caffeine can deplete them. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is found in the gastrointestinal tract, nervous system and blood platelets. It helps to regulate mood, appetite, sleep, and also supports memory and learning. Studies show an association between serotonin levels and mood. The good news is you can naturally increase your serotonin levels with food instead of drugs. • Complex carbohydrates, such as sweet potatoes, brown rice, oatmeal, amaranth, buckwheat, millet and quinoa allow your brain to process more serotonin. • Eating protein and healthy omega-3 fats, found in fish, walnuts and flax, will also improve mood. • B vitamins, which are abundant in fresh leafy greens and in chemical-free, pasture-raised meat, are another important factor because they're needed for serotonin production. • Leafy greens, such as spinach, kale, collard greens, are high in folic acid, a B vitamin. Low levels are linked to depression. • Bananas contain vitamin B6. They are high in potassium, an important electrolyte for a happy and calm mind. • Other foods rich in vitamin B6: turnip greens, garlic, cauliflower, mustard greens celery, fish, poultry, and lean beef. • Tryptophan is the precursor to serotonin; these foods are high in tryptophan: turkey, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. • Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, yogurt, miso, and Kombucha, pickled foods (beets, radish, Korean kimchi) assist in digestion and assimilation of the important nutrients you need for serotonin. So try some of these foods and notice if you feel more relaxed and uplifted. Bon appetite! To receive more helpful tips for caregivers, pick up your copy of Barbra's book Calmer Waters. You can also visit Barbra at her website: https://barbracohn.com/ This blog has been brought to you by CPG News & Information Services.
The Four Year Review: America's Quest for the Cup First Part of the Hex, US Struggles by Shane Stay On November 11, 2016, in front of a sold out stadium, the Hexagonal began. The second part of the Road to Russia was under way. Dos a Cero was the big talk going into the game, meaning 2-0. To date, Michael Bradley has been the only player to score two goals in a Dos a Cero victory over Mexico. Meanwhile, coach Klinsmann was saying the team was taking it one game at a time. But nothing could emphasis how important this match was. Columbus had served as a great “fortress” for the US team. Before this date, they had not lost a game there. A disadvantage on this night would be the many injured US players. Unable to play were Dempsey, Wondolowski, Zardes and Cameron, to name a few. On the other side, Mexico was rearing to go with regulars, Dos Santos, Chicharito, Guardado, the new talent Corona, the veteran Marquez, with the passing-guidance in the middle from Herrara, arguably the best passer of the ball in CONCACAF. The reliable hand of Tim Howard was in goal, at thirty-seven years old. Early in the first half, Mexico possessed the calmer passing. The US was pressed, frequently clearing the ball back to their opponent. Mexico nearly scored first, hitting the post. Then, off a broken tackle, one of the Mexican players took a shot from outside the top of the box, sending it on the ground, without much power, into the corner, past the outreached arm of Howard. Following that, Mexico hit the crossbar. From there, they continued with strong possession, overwhelming the defensive-minded US side with too many savvy offensive-minded ball handlers. Then Howard – of the Colorado Rapids – went down after taking a goal kick. Brad Guzan warmed up on the sideline, but Howard stayed in…a few moments later, he made a routine save, got up, rolled the ball out of bounds, made a gesture to exit the game and Guzan came in to replace him. As halftime arrived, the Fox Sports panel – led by Rob Stone – had a lively discussion trying to figure out how the US – who lacked discipline – could move forward. Early in the second half, the US players showed a lot more energy, asserting themselves into the flow of the game. Altidore connected on a short pass to Wood on the top of the box, who made his way through the last defenders and tapped the ball past the goalie for the equalizer. Toward the end of the game, Mexico scored off a head ball from Marquez, putting them ahead by one goal. The referee had a hard time with the pushing and shoving throughout the game, as it escalated sporadically toward the end. The final score was a tightly contested loss for the US. It was only the first game of the Hexagonal, with more time to make up for it. Next on the Road to Russia would be Costa Rica a few days later, on November 15, 2016. It wasn't dire straits, but it was clear the US needed a victory to get back on track. With that said, the US went into Costa Rica and took a 4-0 loss. It was a tough defeat, as the USMNT created a potential comeback story that will be one for the ages as they push forward on "America's Quest for the Cup" on the Road to Russia. Shane Stay is the author of Why American Soccer Isn't There Yet (2014, Meyer & Meyer Sport). He is a former professional soccer player in addition to being a writer, comedian, producer, and founder of Leaf Dressing. To see more of Shane's insight in American soccer, where it falls short and can improve, pick up your copy of his book today. You can follow Shane on Twitter @shanestay or like him on Facebook.
Abby Wambach and the National Teams by Shane Stay, author of Why American Soccer Isn't There Yet Categorized recently for her disparaging words against Jurgen Klinsmann and foreign-born USMNT players, which caused feud-like comments on social media from Alejandro Bedoya and Jozy Altidore, Abby Wambach came at an interesting time in the history of the USWNT. She arrived during the transition from an era shrouded in success thanks to the golden generation of Mia Hamm, Michelle Akers, Julie Foudy and other gifted players on the 1999 team, which won the World Cup in dramatic fashion against an amazingly talented Chinese side. Since then, the USWNT continued with success in their field along with a little more resistance as the women's game had substantially gained in popularity and quality around the world in the 2000s. The immediate concern was: Who would take over the team once Hamm and others filtered out? Great players came and went – including the technical talents of Aly Wagner – but during the 2000s the preeminent leader of the cause was Wambach, who held up the attack as a taller player, gifted in the air, eventually scoring 184 goals for the national team. As time went on, and World Cup titles that would otherwise belong to the USWNT were going to other teams – including Germany and Japan – some people started to wonder when the glory of 1999 would return. Was the world catching up to the US – who had World Cup titles from 1991 and 1999 – or was the US relying too much on a crossing attack thanks to the aerial supremacy of Wambach? For the latter, it could be said that such an approach was stifling a "better" possession-based attack. Maybe she was scoring too many goals, which kept others out of focus. Whatever the case, at the end of her career, Wambach – to her credit – accepted a demotion to the bench for the 2015 World Cup title in which the team found its creative spark midway in the tournament. For perspective on her 184 goals, Pele didn't break 100 for Brazil. An argument can be made that the women's side lacks "across the board" competitive teams that exist in the men's game. Regardless how that argument ends up, it is after all 184 goals, which leads all men and women for national team play. Considering how the US consistently dominates the Olympics, it's hard to imagine that the men haven't caught up with soccer. Wambach took away two gold medals during her time. The titles for the men should arrive, someday. Comparing the USMNT and the USWNT gets tricky. Post late 1970s, men's and women's soccer picked up drastically in popularity. The women's side became dominant when the rest of the world was playing less, while the men's side struggled to gain leverage within a world of teams that had close to a hundred year head start. Everyone is waiting for the USMNT to overcome the last American athletic frontier and make history in Russia, while the USWNT look to repeat as world champions. Shane Stay is a former professional soccer player, writer, comedian, producer and founder of Leaf Dressing. In 2008, Stay co-authored a print book, published a magazine story, worked clubs as a comedian, played restaurateur, received a Master of Arts, and played professional soccer. Stay has a Bachelor of Arts from Sonoma State University and a Master of Arts from Southern Illinois University. Follow Shane on Twitter @shanestay and Facebook (Shane Stay).
Farmers' Market Fare by Laura Theodore Laura Theodore’s Vegan-Ease: An Easy Guide to Enjoying a Plant-Based Diet, offers more than 130 delicious, vegan recipes that are quick and easy to prepare, each complete with nutritional analysis. Enhanced by over 200, full-color photographs, each recipe is ranked with an Ease-Factor to make it easy to choose recipes that fit into any busy schedule. Farmers’ markets are THE place to be for the next few months, and I love the large, fresh- picked heads of cauliflower that are often available this time of year. Serving satisfying cauliflower “cutlets” makes sophisticated use of this sometimes shunned veggie, giving it serious wow factor! Easy to double or triple, this recipe makes a fancy weeknight main dish or elegant entrée for a summer party. Roasted Cauliflower Cutlets with Lemon-Caper Sauce Makes 4 servings 1 medium head of cauliflower 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil (see note) 1½ teaspoons Italian seasoning blend ¾ teaspoon garlic powder 1 medium sweet onion, thinly sliced 1 cup vegetable broth, plus more as needed 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 1½ lemons; zest one of the lemons first, before squeezing) 2 tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed Zest of one lemon, for garnish 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley for garnish (optional) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper. Trim one to two inches off the two opposite sides of the cauliflower head, and set aside for another use. Cut the cauliflower head into four, ¾- to 1-inch thick “cutlets,” as if slicing a loaf of bread. Arrange the cutlets in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Put 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning and 1⁄2 teaspoon garlic powder in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Liberally spread one-quarter of the seasoning mixture over the top of each cutlet, using a small pastry brush or back of a small spoon. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until tender and slightly golden brown around the edges. To make the sauce, put the onion and 1⁄2 cup vegetable broth in a large skillet. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 7 to 10 minutes, or until the onion has softened. Add 1⁄2 teaspoon Italian seasoning blend, 1⁄4 teaspoon garlic powder and another 1⁄2 cup vegetable broth, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. If the onions become dry, add more broth, 2 tablespoons at a time. Stir in 1 teaspoon olive oil, lemon juice and capers. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 2 minutes, or until the capers are heated through. To serve, put each cutlet on a dinner plate and spoon one-quarter of the onion-caper sauce over each cutlet. Garnish with lemon zest and parsley. Serve warm. Now, that is delicious farmers' market fare! Chef’s Note: To lower the fat content of this recipe, you may use vegetable broth in place of the olive oil. Amount per serving, based on 4 servings: 108 Calories; 9g Fat; 1g Saturated fat; 3g Protein; 227mg Sodium; 8g Total Carbohydrate; 3g Sugars; 3g Fiber Photo courtesy of Annie Oliverio.
US Has Great Success Building Into The World Cup Part Of Shane Stay's Four Year Review From The 2016 Copa America By Shane Stay Paraguay As this Four Year Review rolls on, the US took on Paraguay for the last game in their group. A good result was needed to advance into the playoff round, and that’s where things got interesting. Previously, the US lost to Colombia, 0-2. Then the US defeated Costa Rica, 4-0. On the night of the third game, Colombia, the number three team in the world, lost to Costa Rica, causing them to get second in the group. Against Paraguay, the US won 1-0 despite playing down a man. Dempsey scored the goal, Yedlin received two yellow cards, Brooks had a great defensive game and the team as a whole came together to hold off the Paraguayan attacks. With the win, the US moved onto play in the quarterfinal against Ecuador, which was held in the loud setting of Seattle. With home field advantage, the US was showing the tournament they were one of the top teams there. This generation of US players has benefited from the creation of the MLS in 1995. All of the players from the generation before 1995 were good athletes and players, but they lacked the experience provided by an outdoor league. While fielding competitive teams, they couldn’t get beyond a certain level. Practically everyone in the world looked down on the American soccer program, which affected the team’s performance. Furthermore, the players back then were good defenders, as they are today. While defenders like Brooks played well, I still believe the team needed to take a chance with more skillful defenders on the offensive side of the ball. This would push the team forward with long term success, which comes from a sound groundwork of creative possession that has gotten better over the years. Paraguay had a good team going into the game. Traditionally, they’ve been competitive, but they’ve never stood out as a major threat in a tournament like this, or the World Cup. At this point in the tournament Brazil, who has been a leader in the game since the 1950s and who was expected to win their group, was sent home because of not getting through the playoff round. Though it wasn’t a huge surprise that the US won their group, with Brazil gone, the feeling was that anything could happen. Ecuador The US stood up to the challenge of playing in the quarterfinal against Ecuador, in Seattle. It could be said that home field advantage was playing a significant role in the success of the team during the tournament, considering what a terrible year they had in 2015. However, was the team playing well? Were they getting results? Did they advance in a large tournament? Yes, yes and yes. The bigger issue here is how to get the team past that certain point. The team can get better with adjustments. Change the culture of play in defense, by developing more offensive-minded defenders who control possession in a skillful way, and you will have a better team which will have consistent success. To push us over the top, like Sylvester Stallone from his underrated "Citizen Kane of an arm wrestling movie," it’s about creative possession from the defense. The team needs to adjust the defense to get into the deeper rounds of the World Cup. They look good now, but this team can’t win the World Cup. They’ll turn some heads, like in 2010, but they won’t push it to the limit. We need more “skateboarders,” such as Neymar’s debut game for Brazil in 2010 against the US. No one had ever heard of him, in the US anyway. He was about 17 or 18. During the national anthem the camera panned over this kid, with a mohawk, looking like a puny, skinny, scrawny little punk-rock skateboarder. At that moment, in line with Pato (who’s gotten a bad rap), Gonso (who’s been looked over) and Robinho, most people realized he was going to be a good player. And for his debut, Neymar scored a goal and dribbled with confidence as a veteran would. (Gonso, also in his debut game for Brazil, played phenomenally, casually leading the attack with beautiful passes.) That’s what the US needs: more scrawny, skateboard punks who can really dribble. Why did Brazil exit the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Copa America so disgracefully? They didn’t have the classic creative dribblers and playmakers that they’re known for. They need to get back to what they do well, and the US needs to get into what Brazil should return to. After losing the first game to Colombia, the US made great strides getting into the semifinals of the 2016 Copa America. A little surprised, yes and no. It turns out that Paraguay and Costa Rica weren't as good as people thought, and the US got out of the group. Yet, considering home field advantage, particularly in the quarterfinal with Ecuador in Seattle, it made sense. The argument I'm putting together for the future of the team is that making the semifinals for this tournament "isn't there yet," considering the US made the semi's in this tournament in 1995. Also, Brazil didn't advance out of their group, which was really weird. Another surprise was Mexico, who was thought to be one of the best teams in the tournament, losing 7-0 to Chile. Argentina From the outset, the US and Argentina were looking to be interesting. Yet again, with home field advantage there was a glimmer of hope that the US men could find a victory in Houston and leave Texas for the championship match. But Argentina proved that South American competition is a world away from the leaders of CONCACAF. In the end, the US lost 4-0, playing the number one team in the world. The majority of US analysts constantly serve as a reminder as to how we Americans approach the game: It’s like an executive boardroom, ala Glengarry Glen Ross, with high expectations and unrealistic goals. “Did you score a goal?” “No.” “Well, you didn’t do your job. We have to replace you.” The key issue is that we are not supplying the players with the right approach to “scoring goals.” There’s no use in expecting them to score if the approach is wrong, particularly against an opponent like Argentina, who was doing everything we needed to be doing (which is not asking too much, which is the paradox). Dribbling must be a priority. The two-man game within crowded areas on the field must be a priority. When Argentina possesses the ball in the middle of the field, with artistic short passing and dribbling, it becomes clear why they have more quality scoring chances. That’s where all the scoring begins. The question for the future is simple. Can the USMNT figure it out by the next World Cup? It’s possible. There’s still a lot of time to wait and see. Shane Stay is the author of Why American Soccer Isn't There Yet, Meyer & Meyer 2014. Shane Stay is a former professional soccer player, writer, comedian, producer and founder of Leaf Dressing. In 2008, Stay bottled Leaf Dressing, co-authored a print book, published a magazine story, worked clubs as a comedian, played restaurateur and received a Masters of Arts. Stay has a Bachelor of Arts from Sonoma State University and a Master of Arts from Southern Illinois University. This blog post is brought to you by CPG News & Information Services.
SUMMER PARTY APPETIZERS - IN A FLASH!! Laura Theodore’s Vegan-Ease: An Easy Guide to Enjoying a Plant-Based Diet, offers more than 130 delicious, vegan recipes that are quick and easy to prepare, each complete with nutritional analysis. Enhanced by over 200, full-color photographs, each recipe is ranked with an Ease-Factor to make it easy to choose recipes that fit into any busy schedule. Summertime presents the perfect time to share outdoor meals and casual get-togethers with loved-ones. An easy-to-prepare appetizer is always at the top of my menu agenda, and this delightful offering is one of my go-to dishes all summer long. Mini-Sweet Peppers with Hummus feature store-bought hummus, enhanced by the welcome crunch of the tiny sweet peppers, making this dish a colorful and ease-y dish to add to your recipe box. Simple to prepare, but a real crowd pleaser, and these colorful and tasty snacks instantly disappear the moment you serve them. Better make a double-batch! Mini-Sweet Peppers with Hummus Makes 8 to 10 “small bite” servings 8 to 10 mini-sweet peppers, various colors 1 container (7 to 8 ounces) store-bought “red pepper” flavored hummus (see note) 16 to 20 tiny whole basil leaves or parsley sprigs, for garnish Seed and split the peppers. Fill each mini-pepper half with a generous spoonful of the hummus. Top each pepper with a bit of the red pepper mixture from the top of the store-bought hummus. (see note). Garnish each pepper with a tiny basil leaf or parsley sprig. Arrange the peppers on a pretty platter and serve! Chef’s Note: If you are using another flavor of hummus, or your own homemade hummus, mince one of the mini-red peppers to use as a garnish! Photos courtesy of Laura Theodore Have you tried Laura's Strawberry Pie recipe? You can get it here. Laura Theodore is an award-winning public television personality and host of the Jazzy Vegetarian, presently available in 88% of US households. She is a vegan chef, radio host, jazz singer, and the author of Jazzy Vegetarian Classics and Jazzy Vegetarian. In 2014, Laura was honored with a “Special Achievement Taste-Award” along with the likes of Martha Stewart and Emeril; she has also been recognized byVegNews magazine with a “Totally Tubular Veggie Award.” Laura hosts the popular podcast radio show, Jazzy Vegetarian Radio, now in its 7th year, and has appeared on every major TV network. She writes a weekly food column for Mother Earth Living and has been featured in many highly respected news, food and lifestyle-related journals. A critically acclaimed jazz singer and songwriter her CD, Tonight’s the Night, received a “Musician Magazine Award.” Laura has appeared in many plays and musicals, including the Off Broadway hit show Beehive, earning her a coveted “Backstage Bistro Award” and was honored with the Denver Critics Drama Circle Award as “Best Actress in a Musical” for her starring role as Janis Joplin in the world premiere production of Love, Janis. This blog is brought to you by CPG News & Information Services
2016 Copa America US vs. Costa Rica By Shane Stay, author of Why American Soccer Isn't There Yet This was basically a must win game for the US. In all likelihood, a defeat would have sent them out of the tournament. Considering the opening loss to Colombia, if the US tied there might be some hope to move into the next round. Within CONCACAF, the three tops teams were the US, Mexico and Costa Rica. So it was fitting that the US would face an old conference rival. To that point, Costa Rica might have been the best of the group, however, that would be hard to argue with considering how well Mexico was playing in the past year. Soldier Field in Chicago was the location with 39,642 in attendance. Immediately, a penalty kick was awarded, putting the US up a goal, and from there they never looked back. Costa Rica attempted a comeback, but had no answer. The US put in four by the end of the game. It was a surprise because this Costa Rican team was highly regarded and many people were expecting a more difficult game. When goals are scored, everything seems right. Good combination play and accurate through passes helped the US outplay their opponent. The Costa Ricans were constantly looking for chances to break through the defense, hitting the post at one point, but it just wasn’t their night. The win brought a new energy to the upcoming Paraguay game in which the US could have moved into the next round with a good performance. Regardless of how the Copa America ended up, this win secured Klinsmann his job through the next World Cup. Speculation was that if the US had lost again, Klinsmann might be on his way out. But with a four to nothing victory there’s no disputing that he would continue as the leader into Russia. Shane Stay is a former professional soccer player, writer, comedian, producer and founder of Leaf Dressing. In 2008, Stay bottled Leaf Dressing, co-authored a print book, published a magazine story, worked clubs as a comedian, played restaurateur and received a Masters of Arts. Stay has a Bachelor of Arts from Sonoma State University and a Master of Arts from Southern Illinois University. This blog has been brought to you by CPG News & Information Services
2016 Copa America: US vs. Colombia By Shane Stay, author of Why American Soccer Isn't There Yet, Meyer & Meyer Sport 2014 In the opening match of the 2016 Copa America, sponsored by Sprint, the US lost to Colombia 2-0. Despite the result, the US played well. It’s not condescending to say they didn’t play as well as Colombia. They didn’t. But they played well. Both sides had good, strong tackles. It was a lively game. The problem was that, as a team, Colombia started to reveal their superior touch, vision, professionalism and experience which came about in high-paced possession, accurate flicks, little chips, good through balls, along with very good, well-trained and very aggressive defense. They were ranked number three in the world, and they played like it. Ranked 31st, the US played well, but they were lacking in the most important part of the game: highly skilled defensive possession. With a subtle change in that regard, the US could have rightfully been ranked in the top fifteen and likely would have gotten a better result in a game like this. The first half was the better showing for the US. Colombia was good as well, benefiting from two goals, one of which was a controversial handball call, leading to an interesting debate. Was it a handball? The US player in question, Yedlin, turned his back to a cross, leaving his arm slightly outstretched, which made contact with the ball. The letter of the law states that because he made himself bigger, by leaving his arm outstretched, it was called a penalty kick. James put it away, and that was the end score. Predictably, the US had a challenge on its hands for the next two games. The issue was the same for the US. The defenders were lacking offensive character. They are usually good defenders, there’s no disputing that, but they’re not the best in possession. The problem is, surprise, surprise, the defenders have the majority of possession, in every game. The way they distribute the ball to the other so-called “creative players” affects how the flow of the game goes. In effect, with the majority of possession, the defenders are the “creative players.” It never changes. It’s a little like David Brent questioning his employee Keith, who asks, “What are the options?” “They’re always the same.” Everything on offense starts with the defense. Media commentators suggested many ideas for the lineup, including the benching of Bradley. But rather than be benched, Bradley would be better used as a fullback. Despite some players not being on the team, the best four defenders would have been Yedlin, Bradley, Ream (or Cameron) and Brek Shea (or an idea outside the box would be to use a forward like a healthy Edson Buddle). With that backline, there would have been no more wondering why the USMNT can’t win the big tournaments. It starts with the defenders. With all the talk of lineup changes, a center midfielder is needed to lead the defense. The US should have taken a chance – months ago – with Bradley as a center fullback, preferably with Ream (or Bradley with Cameron or Besler or Brooks). The upside was that, in general, the US team had a good presence and with a better skilled backline they could defeat top teams. There was still hope, and Klinsmann was correct in his assessment after the game, noting that it was a good game, and it would serve well for the future of the team, whether moving on in this tournament or taking that confidence into the next World Cup. Shane Stay is a writer, former professional soccer player, comedian, producer and founder of Leaf Dressing. In 2008, Stay bottled Leaf Dressing, co-authored a print book, published a magazine story, worked clubs as a comedian, played restaurateur, received a Master of Arts and played professional soccer. In 1999, Stay founded the first online Current Events game, CE Game. Stay has a Bachelor of Arts from Sonoma State University and a Master of Arts from Southern Illinois University. He was born in Carbondale, Illinois, to parents Jim and Carol Hanson, an author and school teacher. This blog post has been brought to you by CPG News & Information Services