116street Soccer

Footballing from a lesser authority...

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Location: New York, New York

Monday, June 12, 2006

Freedom Fried

Making the 6 train trek to Nevada Smith's is always a worthwhile endeavor, so thus I set out this morning on my quest to root the U.S. Men to victory. Funny, isn't it, how "rooting" and "victory" don't always go hand in hand? As I sat outside the bar, heat-exhausted, in the 85th minute, I found myself being interviewed for something (newspaper? magazine?) by an acne-faced young man even skinnier than myself, saying ridiculous things like, "hopefully we'll do better next time. Every game is different." I'm sure I'll find my way into some Northern Ireland newspaper under the headline, "U.S. Fans Still Optimistic."
And so it was, and how it will always be, I suppose, we USA fans being turned into lab mice for some cruel experiment, trudging out of our favorite soccer bar, only to have reporters from a Brazilian TV station shove microphones in our faces and ask if Americans care about the World Cup. Not that our team was helping matters today. Yes, it's true that we were up against clearly superior opposition, but our showing was embarrassing, and devoid of imagination, technical proficieny or tactical ideology. Anyone who peruses BigSoccer.com's USA board is aware that the Czechs had been scouting us extensively for months, but their preparation was so thorough, and our inability to adjust so severe, that the end result was laughable. Our insistence upon playing long balls and our failure to utilize our speed hampered our attack, but it's time to be painfully truthful here; our team is just not that skilled.
DaMarcus Beasley, you get called out first. Your persistently awful first touch and generally passive attitude should have gotten you a halftime substitution, but on you soldiered in your ineptitude. They constantly chastise Eddie Johnson for lack of effort, but what of one of our so-called leaders? Speaking of so-called leaders, apparently Landon Donovan didn't get the memo that the Send-Off Series had ended. Watching him vanish from this match was about as unentertaining as whatever David Blaine's next stunt will be.
Also in the department of poor first touches is Eddie Lewis, who compounds matters by being an inaugural member of the 116th Street Horrible Crossing Club as well. Brian McBride was even more invisible than Donovan up front. I suppose I could go on, but I won't, other than to say that Bruce Arena was fully outcoached by Karel Bruckner in this game as well, and he should have used Clint Dempsey at some point, too. In general, the Yanks' general passivity is mostly to blame for their poor performance, although not necessarily the loss. We still have to give credit where due, and Tomas Rosicky was a nightmare today. The Czechs played about as well as one team can, and we would not have beaten them today, even at our best. But did we really have to show up with our worst?
Incidentally, there were a few positives out there; Bobby Convey seemed to be the only American willing to challenge a defender one on one, and while he met with mixed results, his willingness to attack makes him deserving of a place against Italy on Saturday. Claudio Reyna played a decent match, and if his long, first half shot doesn't careen off the post, maybe the whole flavor of the game changes. Eddie Johnson did well as a second-half sub, and created a few decent chances; let's see more of him as the tournament progresses. Pablo Mastroeni held up well defensively, but didn't do enough at the other end, ultimately.
So maybe, in the end, it's not the end of the world, and maybe the next game really will be different; from here on 116th street, though, it seems the U.S. still has a lot of catching up to do.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Matt said...

Very perceptive post. The only positives I can take from today's match are 1) Eddie Johnson having a go and 2) the fact that we can't get much worse. Bruce Arena's passivity on the touchline (his usual "bored with the world" demeanor) annoyed me as well.

6:20 PM  
Anonymous McCrum said...

I love the Beas, but he was pissing me off out there. He didn't take on anyone and he couldn't control the ball any more than I could.

What has he been doing at PSV? He worked better as a team player while he was with the Fire.

12:42 AM  

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