Why I was all wrong…about US soccer

Let me say this straight off: I was wrong about the US soccer team. They did not, and will not destroy soccer in this country. I say this after having watched a thrilling game against Italy, which ended in a 1 – 1 tie.

That's right, soccer un-fans. A tie was thrilling.

As always, some thoughts:

The US owned the midfield. We saw this in the last World Cup against Germany, who the US outplayed. The US hustled, tackled well, and made fantastic developing passes though the midfield. The Italians were forced to play long passes to their flankers up front and consequently had fewer chances.

The US desperately needs a world-quality striker before they can compete in the World Cup. That was the frustrating thing about this game. The US developed and developed, pushing the ball up to the goal box time after time, but couldn't do anything with the ball. Weak crosses across the box. Some half-decent shots from outside. But nothing serious or deadly, nothing to stretch the defense or cause double- or triple-teaming. Nobody creative, except Dempsey, who doesn't appear to have the speed to take him to the next level.

On the other hand, the Italians had dangerous strikers, and they scored on a fantastic curling pass behind the defense on a nice header into the corner.

I hate it when the referee decides the game. I had fifteen minutes of joy – after the US goal and then the red card against Italy. When the next red card came against the US, the joy turned to rage. That's one of the reasons I haven't written about the game until now.

Didn't it look like the Italian player respected the US squad from the beginning? There weren't the usual plethora of crybaby antics usually associated with Italy. That, or Portugal and Mexico set the bar low during the last tournament. I can still see Figo's twisted whiny face… But seriously, I don't think anybody writes the US off anymore.

Other random WC thoughts:

Brazil looks beatable. Ronaldo looks like Maradonna. Circa 1994. Fat, huffing, two steps too slow, a flash of former brilliance sandwiched among ugly sloppy plays…like that complete whiff on a ball in the goal box. You read that right: a Brazilian missed a ball he aimed a kick at. In the World Cup. That's like a pro bowler getting a gutter ball. Tiger Woods dinking a ball off the tee. Larry Bird putting up an air ball from the key.

France's Zidane passes the ball backwards well.

That said, South Korea didn't look so great beating France. I'm still annoyed by the speed skating routine the Koreans did after scoring a goal on the US in 2002. But then again, they did knock Portugal out of the tournament so we could advance.

Argentina's the team to beat. Look for them to knock England out. Why is it they always meet? Fight a war over some rocky island, and get paired up in every World Cup afterwards. FIFA has a perverse sense of humor.

By the way, after US midfielder Pablo M got his red card, who else thought the match was fixed? After all, it's Italy's soccer league that's embroiled in a corruption scandal revolving around match-fixing…


  1. I’m so emotionally drained after watching these games…can’t wait for the intensity of the knock-out stage.

    About the game…I thought the US played great, and agree with your assessment. I’m not really on the Arena bandwagon anymore, since I thought putting Eddie Johnson on the field for at least the last twenty minutes, given his speed and the fatigue of everyone else, could have been the difference maker. We had a few subs to use, and I’m not sure they would have taken anything from the momentum. Not sure why that hasn’t been more of an issue.

    I think Argentina, Spain, Brazil and Holland will all get far, but I think the dark horse this year is Ecuador.

  2. Ecuador?? Ha!

    Of course, I write that looking at the Germany-Ecuador scoreboard and see that Germany’s up 3-0 shortly after the half. It could be that Group A is weaker than thought…which is saying quite a bit…

    The Aussies look good…they could surprise an overconfident Group E winner…Italy? Czech republic? Ghana? (The US cannot win the group, which means a likely Brazil matchup should they advance.)

    I also like Switzerland’s chances of winning in the next round, too.

    How about the losers? France will be lucky to advance. If they do, how can they win against either Ukraine or Spain? Both Italy and the Czech Republican have shown glaring weaknesses. One might stay home.

    That said, there won’t be too many top level teams going home after the first round, not like last year.

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