Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The U.S. National Team Needs to Emulate Jamon Iberico

Jamon Iberico is currently unobtainable in the United States because Spanish slaughterhouses are not up to the exacting health standards of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It's too bad, because the tender, nutty meat is lined with veins of fat that melt at room temperature "like vegetable oil." Mmm, hmmm. Apparently, the unique and critical juncture in the processing of Jamon Iberico is termed the montanera, a six-month period during which the pig will eat as many as twenty pounds of acorns a day. In fact, the amount of oleic acid (the tasty stuff that melts at room temperature) that is present in the pig correlates directly to the number of acorns the pig consumed during it's montanera.

Feed your meat what you want it to taste like, not a bad lesson as the USA heads into Thursday morning's pivotal match against Ghana. Lesser coaches than Bruce Arena would take this lesson and have their team roaming naked in the hills of northern Spain, packing their cheeks with pound after pound of acorns. But not Bruce, he understands that the team only needs to emulate Jamon Iberico, not actually take on its crucial dietary routine.

To say Bruce wants his team to be flavored with high goal scoring potential is not enough, he has to determine his acorn that will produce his vein of vegetable oil-like fat that melts at room temperature. Has the metaphor been tortured enough? Hell no. Throughout qualifying, Bruce has milked goals from an unspectacular strike force by flavoring his offense with some real nutty acorns: primarily speedy, disruptive midfielders.

Bobby Convey understands that if he is to be a productive acorn, he needs to take the ball at defenders and throw crosses into the mixer. Even when it makes him uncomfortable, Convey is a dutiful acorn who pins back his ears and heads for the end line.

Clint Dempsey displayed similar acorn-like qualities against Italy. He displayed a funk not betrayed by his rapping skills in going at Italian defenders and finally showing why he has been on Bruce's acorn list for months.

Landon Donovan has understood for years what a good acorn does, and is therefore deemed the "golden acorn." He is the only acorn with the confidence and skill to create while attacking from the center of the field. He does this best when supported by the "holding acorn," Claudio Reyna.

Troubling, however, has been Demarcus Beasley's unwillingness to be the acorn he once was. The universally maligned ESPN crew has suggested that Beasley cannot play like an acorn if he isn't lined up on the left side (since he prefers his left foot he is forced to cut his runs inside, towards the hearts of most defenses). Watching Beasley's reluctance to go at defenders I tend to agree with the likes of John Harkes and Marcelo Balboa (neither of whom were ever acorns during their tenure). The Beasley of old would be a welcome addition as he could take on his old role of "acorn who runs fast, harasses defenders and holds his arms like a Tyrannosaurus Rex." Where have you gone, old T-Rex?

Pablo Mastroeni is not an acorn. He supports and nurtures the acorns. He is like the oak tree. His likely replacement, John O'Brien, could be the acorn who puts this team over the top. Admirers of John O know that Donovan has rightly called him the best player on the team, but he has had a two-year fitness battle leading into the World Cup. Whether he nurtures other acorns with crafty through balls or becomes an acorn himself, his play could be the difference between a vegetable-oil like fat that melts at room temperature and thick bacon grease-like fat the congeals into a candle at room temperature.


Big Blue Monkey said...

odd stuff, chato. Compelling as all get out. But odd.

Jorge Larriando said...

That's the wierdest fucking thing I've ever read. Not sure if I'm jonesing for a ham sandwich, or stoked about Thursday's game. Either way, it's wierd as hell.

Muumuuman said...

I wouldn't call Beasley a T-Rex, he's not nearly big and savage enough. When I see him scamper around with his odd gait and large feet, I think of a speedy, clumsy Pingu . Nyook Nyook everyone and thanks to Silvio Mazzola.

Eric said...

I'm hungry...

So, are you suggesting a...uh...5-Course Jamon Iberico??