Monday, June 8, 2009

USMNT pulls one out... somehow

Another soccer post: feel free to skip if you're not interested in US Men's soccer.

After a 3-1 pasting in Costa Rica, the US let in another early, easy goal against Honduras on saturday and I was saying, "geeze here we go." However, they fought back to eventually take the game 2-1 and stay in 2nd place in the concacaf World cup qualifying standings (top 3 automatically qualify for South Africa 2010, 4th place plays 5th place from South America).

The US started to dominate after the shaky start, had a pretty clear penalty against Clark waved off before a handball 2 minutes later was called, giving Donovan yet another opportunity to do his ridiculous pre-PK ritual of kneeling, kissing his knuckles and hands, etc before scoring. Since its his only method of scoring international goals lately, I guess he needs a ritual worth mocking. Later in the 2nd half Bocanegra headed in a loose ball for the 2-1 victory.

My specific thoughts on the US players in the Honduras game:
- Spector and Bornstein proved why they are far better alternatives to Beasley and Wynne in the defense. Spector has a fantastic game and Bornstein was equally as solid.
- For the umpeenth time Onyewu and Bocanegra were paired together. I guess this will continue ad naseum, despite the fact that I believe DeMerit is a better player.
- Mastreoni is done. He has looked slow, inept on the ball and unable to do his job in these past two games. His halftime substitution should be a ritual burial for his international career. Feilhaber, despite not really playing anywhere for 2 years, played pretty well in 2nd half in his place.
- Donovan was listed as having a "great game" per reports, but I thought he was once again invisible, putting in poor free kicks and poor crosses. Spector and Dempsey were more talented on teh ball.
- Altidore was ok, Casey was not. Beasley is useless and needs to be removed from the pool of players. We have better options now and he's proven that he's a one-trick pony (speed).

Lastly; i think its time for a new coach. One who can instill some backbone into this team, find a playmaker they desperately need and move forward. I know it won't happen; but Bradley is basically going to get this team to South Africa and be 3-and-out.

Our only hope in the next world cup is having Mexico somehow not qualify. Because that would guarantee us the seed out of this region and would guarantee we don't have a second european team in our group. It would also mean we would miss every major power in the group stage. Consider our group and mexico's groups in the last three cups while they were seeded:

US groups:
2006: Italy, Ghana, Czech Republic
2002: Portugal, Poland, Korea
1998: Germany, Yugoslavia, Iran

Mexico groups:
2006: Portugal, Angola, Iran
2002: Italy, Croatia, Equador
1998: Netherlands, Belgium, Korea

In each case, you can easily make the argument that Mexico's groups almost guaranteed passage while our groups have been exceedingly difficult. With the tables turned, the US may be talking about routine quarterfinal appearances and not be talking about just "playing well."

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