Monday, June 12, 2006
There's very little to say, other than that the Czechs are much, much better than we are. I guess there's a reason why their attacking players get checks from Juventus, Arsenal, and Dortmund, while our defensive players pay the mortgage thanks to the largesse of Standard Liege, Leeds, and Hannover 96. The match today was crap almost from start to finish. The Czechs opened with a goal that can only be described as breathtakingly simple: ball into acres of space on the right to Grygera, who then finds an embarrassingly open Jan Koller for the opener. Koller's threat in the air is obvious and yet the US appeared to be oblivious to the fact that a 6'8 bald guy might head the ball with proficiency.
The US played well from the first Czech goal to the second, creating one good chance that ended with Landon Donovan getting destroyed in the open field and then Claudio Reyna hitting the post some time thereafter. We had about 30 minutes in which we had possession and created some decent chances, although nothing too good other than Reyna's shot. Then, Rosicky hit an absolute screamer and we basically quit. Although the ESPN crew were blaming Onyewu for the Rosicky goal, he cleared the ball with some good distance; if someone is going to hit a shot into the side netting from 35 yards, then at some stage, you have to tip your hat. Or find someone on these shores who can do the same. Hahahaha.
The second half was desultory. I was watching with a bunch of friends at the Cheyenne Grill and the second half produced nothing more than slouched people muttering at the screen about the fact that we couldn't complete a pass or make a cross properly. There's nothing worse than watching a soccer match when your team is two goals down and creating nothing. It's a slow death personified. Being surrounded by a bunch of obnoxious UNC paraphenalia (and isn't that term redundant?) while watching UNC grad Eddie Pope get skinned again and again added to the happy feelings.
The US's wing players - Lewis, Cherundolo, Beasley, and Convey - were collectively useless, which then made Brian McBride useless, since his only discernible skill is heading the ball. The US resorted to long balls forward because they were being dominated in the midfield and yet McBride couldn't hold any of them up for his teammates. It was just as well, since the players weren't making runs off of one another as the game progressed. Landon Donovan...was he on the pitch after getting hammered in the open field by David Rozenhal? Claudio Reyna (the UVA grad - f*** off Carolina [can you tell I'm bitter?]) was the only starter who acquitted himself with any dignity, although the Czechs' dominance in midfield has to be attributable to him, in some part. Eddie Johnson confirmed my opinion that he's the US's one big game striker by creating some good chances before another Rosicky goal (this one definitely being the result of an Onyewu error, namely taking a terrible angle to Rosicky's run) killed the match off entirely.
The second half was especially depressing. Here were the Czechs, a team not noted for their defense and playing without either of their two quality strikers, dominating the "most talented US team ever." You know that Balboa, Wynalda, and Lalas had a tinge of "Ha ha. See, these guys suck, too!" in their post-game analysis. And speaking of the coverage, another shout out to Dave O'Brien for reducing soccer to a bunch of repetitive, unhelpful stats. (THIS IS NOT BASEBALL!!! WE DON'T MEASURE LANDON DONOVAN BY A "VALUE OVER REPLACEMENT ATTACKING MIDFIELDER" STAT!!!) We get the picture. The US has never won or tied a World Cup game in Europe. You don't need to rub it in your own countrymen's faces.
Other than all of that, this afternoon was awesome.