Monday, June 12, 2006

Just Awful

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.


peacedog said...

Depressed right now. The lack of intensity was worrisome. Pre-tournament questions about Beasley's form of late (at least offensively) were legit. Lewis isn't going to cut it at left back.
Johnson not being in the lineup is a joke, unless his conditioning level just isn't there (wouldn't be too surprising given that the foot has been messing with him). There was an article at some point done on soccernet about Donovan that noted "Landon Donovan is not going to save US soccer".

No. Shit.

Though I don't fully blame him - nobody around him was playing particularly well. But he was invisible for the most part, no matter how much of that his own fault.

Pope and Onyewu were decent but not great and both did make errors at times (the rest of the defense mostly sucked).

Ryno said...

E-mail sent from a friend of mine to me at work since I was unable to get off for a long lunch to watch the game

"USA down 2-0, getting pushed around, Czech's very very efficent, gotta go, Demarcus Beasley just misplayed another ball and lost possession. What a pussy"

I felt you'd think it was appropriate.

Michael said...

Intensity, like momentum, is tomorrow's starting pitcher. We didn't look intense because we were getting our asses kicked.

Donovan just seems passive. He doesn't come to get the ball and doesn't like to mix it up, which is why the MLS is a better fit for him than the Bundesliga.

Anonymous said...

The one thing that struck me even more than the lack of intensity, Michael, was the seeming utter lack of skills displayed by the US side. I mean they looked less skilled(relatively speaking) than my son's U8 team.

Shocking lack of skill. We don't have one player as skilled as the Czech's worst starter. That's pitiful.

pRohphet8 said...

Can't give Reyna a pass....CR gave the ball away once around the 18 and he drops it back....never makes the killer pass, always playing shot hitting the post doesn't let him off the hook.

I blame Arena most. I still think we are exhausted from overconditioning, the teams was wound tight and scared, the lineup choices (don't get me started on the initial roster selection) were horrible (Beasly on the right, Eddie Lewis in the back). This guy loves to be coy and smug and play lineup games, and it has messed with our USA's heads. Arena has outlived his usefullness....can we still get Gus away from the Russians????

I just hope we can avoid another 32nd place finish and at least score a goal.

Tim said...

I'm still disgusted by that performance. If Dempsey and Johnson don't start and Beasley does, Arena should book his ticket home that day.

Michael said...

I'm not inclined to blame Bruce, given his track record, but his blaming of his team on Monday was poor form. That said, I don't think that he made many tactical mistakes. Beasley's problem was not that he was on the right side, but rather than he has apparently lost the ability to dribble or make basic passes. Lewis has been on the left for the US for a while and I don't see any better options.

As for exhaustion, most of the teams were worked hard by their coaches a month ago and then given some time to recharge before the tournament. Arena didn't make a mistake in that regard. My only beef with him is that it appears that the team might have tuned him out, which often happens if a high-intensity coach is around for too long.

LD said...

You should be wearing that Puyol jersey very very proudly today, after yesterday's unbelieveable 4th goal for Spain. I think that entire play was the best series in the entire cup so far.

Michael said...

You beat me to it. I was going to put up the video of the goal and then you gave me a reminder. Hard to believe that a central defender can make that sort of move. If David Villa is on form like he was yesterday, then this Spain team could live up to your prediction. Xavi looked great. He's in a Ronaldo '02 position of being healthy after having missed the season with an injury, which means he'll be very fresh. His passing was excellent yesterday.