Meet the U.S. World Cup Team’s New METHOD Acting Coach

His Beating Iran Plan to Escape Group B

After missing the entire party four years ago, the U.S. Football team [USMNT] faces a win-or-go-home match with Iran in its concluding World Cup Group B game Tuesday against Iran.

Remember them?

Despite a draw against Wales and because of a similar result against England, a newly created coaching position promises newfound soccer success, even in the face of controversies about the event’s calendar timing, sponsoring organization, and reactionary venue.

Igor Stravinsky Strasberg, the new Method Acting Coach hired by Head Coach Gregg Berhalter might give the U.S. our best chance of advancing to the knockout rounds.

“We’ve been,” Berhalter affirmed, “out-acted in international matches for years. That helps our diving, flopping, whining opponents dramatically in drawing fouls, cards, and PKs; influencing whistle-blowers; and gaining needed rest while one of their thespians gyrates on the turf after a
minor hit.”

In teaching his version of the Method, Strasberg employs “affective memory.” It involves recalling experiences that made a significant emotional impact on the actor/player to allow uninhibited responses to that emotion in the moment of play, without seemingly faking or forcing that reaction. Perfect for “the beautiful game.”

Berhalter added, “Acting is at the heart of why other national teams have outpaced US footballers in this tactic, this skill. Coach Strasberg’s Method acting emphasizes dredging up memories of victimhood among our mates, something he claims has always served other national teams well. Clearly, they’ve taken naturally to the victim’s role, an especially effective tactic
influencing matches playing us, the country and culture perceived as dominating and victimizing the world. Except on the pitch.”

Cornered after the tie that felt like a loss against Wales, Strasberg ranted, “How could the country that produced Marlon Brando, Warren Beatty, Robert DiNiro, Paul Newman, Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman, James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Jane Fonda, and Jack Nicholson get out-acted by foreigners, in this case Welshmen?”

He continued, “No wonder we couldn’t hold off Wales, though we outplayed them! They out-acted us: Count the yellow cards and penalties, or lack thereof! The Welshmen treated Christian Pulisic like he was Achilles, aiming for the bottom of his legs on frequent runs while still avoiding whistles by acting innocent after a foul.

“The country of Anthony Hopkins, Christian Bale, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Tom Ellis should be proud, though only Bale employed the Method. We, this team, did do better against England, obviously a nation of actors and drama kings. Iran will be tough too; everybody’s a victim there.”

Strasberg warmed up, “Historically, American youth soccer programs catered to suburban white kids, the antithesis of victims. Americans who felt victimized so they could act to get calls in games gravitated to sports like football and basketball. Have you seen Tom Brady [second stringer in college; low draft choice] or Draymond Green [mean streets of Saginaw] whine to officials over calls or non-calls? They’re like Cristian Ronaldo, the world’s most talented soccer player but also maybe its biggest flopper and whiner, perfecting an act that helps gain leverage in tilts.”

Strasberg noted, “The American Women’s team [USWNT] at least could draw on the general victimization of being a woman as they learned to flop and dive, harassed by real or phantom tackles like the best of their male footsy brethren. Clearly, Megan Rapinoe effectively and affectively embraces a real victimization to act as well as play like a star.”

Strasberg does see a ripe opportunity with this American team to channel the lives and success of Diego Maradona, Pele, Lionel Messi, Franz Beckenbauer, Johan Cruyff, Ronaldo Nazario, Zinedine Zidane, Michel Platini, and Roberto Baggio, legendary soccer actors and players, often
with hardscrabble upbringings: “A more multicultural group’s sure to have feelings of victimization in America. In fact, with our current political divisiveness, economic inequality, and the effect of Covid-19, everybody in America feels victimized to some extent, which should help us be great again.

“The right has historically marginalized ethnics, gays, immigrants, and progressives, and the left now stereotypes all young traditional, old-school, white males as opioid-swallowing, racist Proud Boy losers. Victimized American players, practicing and employing the Method, should draw
more favorable calls from refs through their acting.”

Strasberg uses history lessons to exacerbate affective national memories of victimhood: “We had a historian get the boys to hate on England for victimizing Americans [“Stormed the Capitol during the War of 1812; taxed the tea in ‘73”] and have similar plans for Iran [“The ‘79 Iran Hostage Crisis was bull; similar religious fanatics still rule”]. Our Chaplain equated the U.S. to Jonah being swallowed by the Whale, but clearly that didn’t work too well against Wales.”

Strasberg clarified, however, that current personal affective memories should aid USMNT acting greatly going forward. “You saw,” he said, “results in the Wales match. Tim Weah scored the only goal. I get in his ear constantly. Gio Reyna too, although he’s played sketchily. I’ve been
stirring affective memories for both, taunting them with the refrain, ‘Who’s Your Daddy?’

Weah’s father was an iconic Liberian ‘90’s international football star. Reyna’s father played in three World Cups for the USA. I wanted them to feel victimized, that they couldn’t measure up.”

Strasberg stressed he saw specific personal and team-wide reasons to expect great acting and success against Iran: “Reyna will see himself victimized after not playing about ten minutes in the first two matchups. Pulisic will feel victimized after seemingly wearing a target on his back.

Walker Zimmerman will feel victimized for getting scapegoated about his silly tackle in the box to set up the tying PK when other slow reacting teammates contributed. Did you notice after really getting into the Method, he even stopped Harry Kane with a key defensive play against the Brits? The team felt victimized by the blow-back after blowing three points against Wales; they, however, made good use of the Method’s affective memories to stand off the powerful English.”

“We will vanquish the Iranians IF we continue to practice and follow MY METHOD, acting and playing accordingly Tuesday!”

Author: Ken Hogarty

Dr. Ken Hogarty, who lives in SF’s East Bay with his wife Sally, retired after a 46-year career as a high teacher and principal. Since, he has had stories, essays and comedy pieces published in Underwood, Sport Literate, Sequoia Speaks, Woman’s Way, Purpled Nails, Cobalt, the S.F. Chronicle, Points in Case, Glossy News, The Satirist, and Good Old Days. PO Box 84, Canyon, CA. 94516

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