Monday, June 12, 2006

Yanks' World Cup Comes Up Empty

If the United States Soccer Federation was counting on the American team’s opening contest at this year’s World Cup to finally convert millions of disinterested domestic sports fans to their cause, they can forget it.

Given such high expectations for this year’s squad at the very least most observers expected a competitive match against the favored Czech Republic. Instead, we were (mis)treated to a dreadful game from the American side. As tempting as it might be to credit the Czechs with playing great defense, such was not the case. The Americans simply never mounted any serious threat; indeed, at no point did the US team even seem to have a game plan. Their “attack” was completely unimaginative and disorganized and their defense broke down early.

After reaching the quarterfinals at the last World Cup, in Korea, American soccer was thought by many to be ready for the next level. After today’s 3-0 shutout it is clear they are not. Their next match is Saturday against a very good Italian team. It will take nothing less than a miracle to make it to the next round. The Yanks could easily be 0-2 by Sunday morning and on their way home shortly thereafter.


Oisín/Wizlah said...

I was quite shocked to see the state of the US team - given the games they had against the likes of portugal in 2002, I was expecting a progression in 2006.

What really surprised was the utter lack of pace that many of the american players had. the czechs are an older team now (average age 29), but they were comfortably outrunning many of the americans, who often looked like they were running on the spot.

I only caught the final 20 minutes of the game, but the americans looked very one-dimensional, with all the forward play coming through a very busy reyna, and macbride dropping further and further back to the halfway line creating fewer options upfront.

It must be seriously frustrating to find yourselves in this much of a hole after making a quarter final in 2002.

Tom Goodman said...

Oisin: Consider yourself "fortunate" because you watched the best part of the US effort. The first 70 minutes were indescribably bad. I'd swear the Americans passed the ball backwards as much as forward during that time. They never mounted a serious threat nor, for that matter, appeared to know what they wanted to do with the ball once they had it. In the first 30 minutes or so they actually had the ball longer than the Czechs did, but they never were able to get off any serious attack. I blame the coach for an inexplicably poor "game plan". Even the commentators on ESPN wondered why one player for the US was on the right when the left side was clearly his better position. This game set soccer back at least four years or more in the U.S. and not even my proclivity to reverse curse a team (in the case it would be a US victory over Italy) will help.