Thursday, June 22, 2006

US Soccer: Not Ghana Advance

Why Landon Donovan, in the 88th minute, passed on a clear shot to the goal to instead opt to push the ball into the clogged up middle and kill a desperately needed scoring chance (a few minutes after lofting a free kick past all players and out of bounds) is anybody's guess. Perhaps right then he had suddenly realized how to alter the flow of time and space and he figured he could gin up a wayback machine to travel back two hours and stop Claudio Reyna from making a hideous, fundamental, grade-school mistake with the ball in front of the goal box. So maybe, in the next few minutes, we'll hear something about how Landon Donovan went back, killed Hitler, cured AIDS, and told Reyna to beware the Ides of Stupid.

But I have a funny feeling this result is going to stand up to Donovan's eleventh-hour flux-capacitation. And why shouldn't it? Let's go to the tape: in just under a week, Ghana managed to personally eliminate the two most-overrated teams from the World Cup and while that sucks for the United States, it's good for soccer all around. After earning back their right to possess testicles in the Italy match, dreary and aimless United States soccer was back in full effect, the four and a half seconds it took for DaMarcus Beasley to connect with Deuce Dempsey being the exception.

A lot of these guys won't be back in four years: Reyna, McBride, Pope, probably Keller. I hope the NSA has got a tap on Freddy Adu's immigration lawyer and is readying a counter-offer. It sure looked today that Freddy backed the wrong horse. Whoever takes the field four years from now will hopefully have the following advantages over the current team:

  • The ability to play the ball to a teammate's foot, as opposed to always kicking it into a general vicinity
  • The knowledge necessary to realize that while crosses are important, they only tend to work when there are teammates adjacent to the cross
  • The recognition, Landon, that you only have about half a second to make a decision
  • No more in-the-box Agoosism

This is all I ask for. And what needs to be done to get Esky on this team?

With the United States rightly eliminated, my allegiance switches now to bloodline. Unfortch, that means I get a few days of trepidation before Sweden gets eliminated by Germany (Germany is THREE GOALS BETTER than Ecuador? THAT'S a statement. I've been waiting to see any of Germany's rumored weaknesses to materialize and so far, I don't see anything). Yes, Sweden. My Mor-Mor stepped right offa the boat to come to this country, so I recognize.

My mutt mix of various Celticky/Gaelickness just doesn't understand why I don't just scotch the whole rest of the cup and look for a good hurling match to watch on public televsion.

Sweden was last seen eking out a rather heroic tie in stoppage time against the Brits in a game tha ultimately meant almost nothing. I say almost because Albion'll take the field from here on out without the resources of Michael Owen. I know that everyone in England mainly lives and dies over the state of Wayne Rooney's fitness (though Huge Hugh Owen would probably prefer to see a team of Jamie Carragher clones. I, being a Fever Pitch fan (the book, not the almost certainly execrable Jimmy Fallon misadventure) favor the young sir Walcott--though one thing we can all agree on is that everytime a Tottenham player doesn't get a cap, an angel gets their wings), but I don't think much of England's chances without Owen.

Though, frankly, I didn't think much of them before. The England-Sweden game was pretty instructive, if you want to know why it's better than likely they'll be making some premature exits--Sweden has been great at nearly everything except for the part where you close the deal and finish, and England has played pretty mirthless, turgid soccer except for the fact that they have The Last Bit down pat.

Right now, I'd be terrified of Germany and Argentina--and frankly, I've a little more respect for the Dutch/Netherlandian/Hollandaise after they managed a draw without Robben.

Am I the only one, by the way, that thinks that Ghana could be a whole lot more than Brazil bargained for?

We'll see.

Finally, if you sense that I'm still a little miffy that my Swedes could only nip a draw with the Brits this week, don't worry. There is no extra time in the group stages of the world cup, so the matter could not be settled on the pitch. Off the field, however, Sweden has the only tiebreaker that really counts:
Come on Britannia. Like you wouldn't Stock their Holm!


Big Ear Creations said...

Yeah man... Ghana is a DARN good team

jordan said...

i'll give the US the following:

they *did* finally score a goal for themselves
they successfully fooled the czech republic into thinking that they had a chance

A. L. Deviant said...

*Stocks Holm*

Yeah, the Brits are living up to the title of Overrated. Unless Rooney catches fire, Beckham gets some mojo and Walcott proves to be the next coming of Christ, they're fucked.

Ghana. Man! I hope they do trounce Brazil. That would get my tobagoes off.

Agentina is the team to beat, for sure. However, I think they can be taken given some smart play. Its been such a great tournament so far.

PK said...

What game were you watching? Ghana is going to get destroyed - DESTROYED - by Brazil. They did NOTHING in this game, other than graciously take a gift from Claudio and a gift from the ref. The US controlled a soccer game that was generally bad all around, but - just as I said they would a month ago - had trouble finishing, because there was no creativity up front. No good crosses, no good setups, and on the odd occasion we had a shot, no good shooting.

Still... the US wins this game 4 out of 5 times. Anybody who's jumping on the Ghana bandwagon is about to get a rude awakening. They looked good against the Czechs, but it's not like they ran away from the US. Without that inexplicable penalty, the momentum of the game looked fo all the world like it was headed to a US win. Aargh.

Anyway, now I'm just cheering for soccer. Yay soccer. Boo refs.

Smiley said...


Hams_Dementor said...

First, re: this game. 2 words: We Suck. 1 goal in 3 games ??? Any chance Bruce Arena won't be back in 4 years? (I sure hope so)

Second, re: Germany vs Sweden.
(Disclaimer: I grew up in Germany)
Let's look at history:
1982 - lose to Italy 3-1 in finals
1986 - lose to Argentina 3-2 in finals
1990 - win ... yeay!
2002 - lose to Brazil 2-0 in finals

Not bad, eh? What did all these German teams have in common?


The well-known Rule to predict Germany's success in World Cup play: The worse they are thought to be, the better they do.

FACT: At the moment they look great.

CONCLUSION: I wouldn't bet the farm on the Sweden game :-/

HTO said...

ghana will be half the side they were in the first two games without essien - he's a dirty fuckwit whose horrible tackles could have ended a couple of players careers this season (ask Didy Hamann for more details), but he's the most effective defensive midfielder playing right now, even better than claude makele back in 2002 when he was playing for Real.

re: ingerland - we played better in the sweden game and that was without the godlike presence of Stevie G. If we can persuade the england boys to man mark players when playing a man to man type defence, we're golden.

heres to mexico playing out of their skins against the argybargys

heres to australia knocking out a boring italy so italy can piss off home and half of the squad get relegated due to match fixing back home
france versus spain in the next round anybody? or a little bit ahead... does germany vs argentina sound interesting? or brazil spain? dammit, this world cup is good. England better not effing eff it all up against Ecuador just cause it's a little too hot for diddums beckham and his bestest bestest mates.

DCepticon said...

I understood about every other word of that last post.

PK said...

Yeah, the next round looks BRILLIANT - I don't know how I'm going to do anything else this weekend.

And I think Australia is a real threat to Italy... they're my new favorite team now that the US is out. Partially because they play the game well, and partially because I have a soft spot for soccer players from countries where the sport isn't very popular.