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Fool’s Gold

The United States Men’s National Team (USMNT) defeated Costa Rica last night 1-nil on a counter-attack goal courtesy of Brek Shea in the 83rd minute that started with a beautiful over-the-top service from Landon Donovan and concluded with a decent enough finish to rattle the net. With the result, the United States won their group in the Gold Cup. They will face El Salvador next in one of the quarterfinal match-ups this Sunday.

A good result with a good goal sequence. One certainty for the USMNT is that Landon Donovan knows how to counter-attack, when he doesn’t disappear for fifteen or so minutes every once in a while during the most important games…

But was the result really good enough?

The question during the Gold Cup and the World Cup qualifying in the CONCACAF group is not whether or not the USMNT wins games, but it’s how they win and play. Do they have a reliably dynamic style that meets world-class standards? Let’s be candid: CONCACAF is not overly difficult and wins should consistently be achieved on the road and should definitely be achieved at home. During the home matches, there should be an abundance of spectacular goals and stellar performances from the goalkeeper up to the forwards. At this point, these games should not require a counter-attack goal after the 80th minute to secure a narrow victory at home. At this point, the USMNT should be running circles around the Gold Cup and CONCACAF competition with consistent 3-0-like victories.

Have the recent results really been good enough?

The teams from the Gold Cup and CONCACAF represent the weakest competition they will potentially face in the World Cup in Brazil in 2014. Does the team that struggles to defeat Costa Rica at home and other similar competition have the roster, style, toughness, talent, strategy, resilience and intelligence to defeat or compete with Spain? Brazil? Germany (their first team)? The Dutch? Portugal? England? Argentina? Belgium? Uruguay? Ghana?

Frustratingly, each time the USMNT roster is announced, there is a steadily uneasy feeling that half of the selected players should not even be there…especially one year out from the World Cup.

However, don’t paint me as a pessimist. I am an eternal believer in the “glass is half-full” mentality. I have long said Jürgen Klinsmann has the intelligence and insight to coach a USMNT that wins a World Cup. But, sadly, that team has not come very close to being organized on the field during his tenure thus far. Amazing things can happen in games that are predicted otherwise. Unlikely players show up and can change a game in an instant. Upsets happen and the USMNT has pulled off a few magical ones. They undoubtedly have the potential.

Yet, I am also a realist and am cognizant of the talent level of the aforementioned teams. There is a distinct difference between qualifying and playing in a World Cup and qualifying and competing for a World Cup.

It’s less than a year from the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and it needs to said that 90 minutes is a long time, especially when you’re having to chase a ball while simultaneously climbing a mountain of goals against.

P.S. The U.S. v. Mexico game at Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio on September 10th will once again be epic! Importantly, it will reveal the talent and overall readiness of the USMNT going forward…

Usually, I Order a Coke with No Ice…

In partnership with Ogilvy & Mather Bogota, Coca-Cola may have just started a cool sustainability revolution with its ice bottle. According to a July 9, 2013 Foxnews.com article, “Coca-Cola unveils new bottle made of ice,” the popular soda/pop (a serious debate, I know) maker gave the sweating populace of Colombia the rare icicle-like treat.

The ice bottle appears to be precisely what you would imagine it to be: ice that is frozen in the shape of a Coca-Cola bottle, with a rubber band around the middle for holding and drinking convenience, with the refreshing soda/pop cooled to the perfect temperature inside.

Just as long as it is easy to drink with an ice bottle opening and that famous scene from “A Christmas Story” doesn’t occur, then the general public should be in good shape. If need be, adjustments then have to be made.

It’s hot outside. What feels good on a hot summer day? Ice. What’s even better than ice? Ice with chilled Coca-Cola! But here’s the genius of it all: The outer and inner contents of the ice bottle will refreshingly chill your heat soaked bones. It’s a win-win. Actually though, since the bottle is made of ice, that means once you are finished drinking or using the bottle, it simply melts away without becoming trash.

It’s a win-win-win!

With the number of countries throughout the world that experience hot weather all year-round or even just seasonally hot weather like in the United States of America, the potential for this commercial product could be astronomical. Imagine the continents of South America, Africa and Australia for starters. Middle Eastern countries also tend to be on the slightly warmer side. Specifically, Dubai is always looking to the future and embraces some Western ideas and tendencies.

Imagine going to the beach during Summer vacation and instead of having to lug around a cooler filled with empty soda/pop bottles or cans at the end of the day…well, now you don’t have to. The cooler would be significantly lighter. Incredibly, this idea could spread to adult beverages. Because water is a key ingredient in beer, it is manageable. The recipe would have to be altered and thoroughly tested, but it is workable.

Wouldn’t you try a Coca-Cola or a Corona in an ice bottle on a hot Summer day?

Environmental sustainability is a vitally important issue and Coca-Cola’s seemingly simple ice bottle could be the practical product the public embraces globally just like Coca-Cola itself. Having traveled all around the world, I will speak from extensive experience when I say American consumer goods, like Coca-Cola, Pepsi and McDonald’s are very popular. In the case of the Coca-Cola ice bottle, the brand is already well-established and a favorite with millions of people.

If managed properly (cost, distribution, etc.) and affordable pricing is offered to the public, then we could be on the cusp of a global effort to positively and realistically preserve the environment.

Some of our worries could just melt away…

P.S. Two suggestions to Coca-Cola: don’t use a rubber band (use something recyclable) and make the gripping band larger so it can be hand-held, not finger-held.