sports: June 2006 Archives

Cup, Part 3

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Well, the US went out with a whimper. Rats. As bad as the refereeing was in their match with Italy, it was, as far as I could tell, pretty consistent during their contest with Ghana. The one obvious missed call, of course, was the phantom push that resulted in Ghana's second goal.

It's hard to get worked up about it, though, because (a) it was clearly a dumbass decision on Bocanegra's part to try and clear like that on a breakaway play, and that set up the play that resulted in the "foul," and (b) if the US couldn't score when they were a goal down, what makes us think they would have with the score tied? They should have been taking more risks a goal down, and they weren't. Beasley's pass was the single best kick of the Cup for the US, but they spent so little time over three games putting themselves in those kinds of positions.

I'm not among those calling for Arena's head, but I do think that this Cup demonstrated a couple of things. First, the MLS is not the place where the next gen of US soccer players should be honing their skills. They need to be competing with the best players in the world, and the MLS is not there yet. That was pretty clear. Second, there needs to be some emphasis on creativity. The US team played competently, but couldn't handle really creative strikers, and couldn't generate any offense on their own.

I'm disappointed, but really, I'd rather see Ghana advance than the US--they were a much more entertaining team to watch. And so, I'll be watching the knockout rounds--I've been seeing so much of the group play that I'm genuinely interested, even without my home team...

That is all. Back in Syracuse soon...

To be fair

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I should acknowledge that yesterday's game was easily the best I've ever seen the US team play. Not only did they not suck, but they held up under adverse conditions to earn a draw. It's not encouraging to me that they have yet to actually score a goal, but their draw coupled with the Czech implosion against Ghana gives the US a decent chance to advance. Not a great one, but a decent one.

A couple of quick notes. I'm not sure why the US stopped playing offense with 15 minutes to go. It was frustrating to me, I'll have to admit. Nor do I know why, on the "deepest-ever US team," Arena chose to hold onto his final sub, even when it was obvious how tired the Italians were. I still believe that they had a shot to win, even down a man.

The Italian player who cracked McBride should be suspended for the entire Cup. It was that obvious and that intentional.

Announcers saying that Mastroeni's was a "make-up call" need to update their dictionaries. Make up for what? The US had double the fouls at that point as Italy, and were the victims of thuggery. A make-up call is typically one where a bad call is made to even out a bad call in the other direction. I suppose maybe you could say that it made up the man difference.

I'm with Balboa, though, on the piss-poor quality of the referee in general. Only 1 of the 3 reds was warranted, and the 2nd half was like watching a different game--it was incredibly inconsistent. I'm not a big conspiracy guy, but it sure looked for all the world like the ref made sure that the US wasn't going to get out there without more than a point. The offsides call on Beasley's goal was legit, but there was a lot of flopping and the US generally got the worst of it. Ugly for a different reason, that was.

Still. Great game for the Americans. Ghana's going to be really tough, and I don't expect the US to advance, but at least it's a game that counts for something.

That's all...oh, and happy father's day to everyone...

Our cup run eth over

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Not a lot of time for posting today. I've been watching a fair amount of the World Cup though, and in addition to inching back to within one point of the lead in the Cup pool I'm in, I'm beginning to get a little more of a feel for the action.

And let me just say that we sucked. Really badly. The Czech Republic may have beaten the US anyway, but one thing that really came clear to me was the degree to which the US team had real trouble (a) running any kind of breakaway or counterstrike offense, and (b) defending against any kind of breakaway or counterstrike offense. Not that I'm psychic or anything, but in the first 5 minutes, on the first Czech goal, when I saw their wing trotting down to the corner unchallenged, I said "uh-oh," right before the ball bounced off Koller's head. No way a disciplined team allows that in the first 5 minutes.

The US attack looked like it was trying to emulate the 2nd tier Euro teams, with highly orderly offense, hoping for a break, but spending most of its effort trying not to get blown out. Every time they managed a one-on-one or mini-break, they cleared back out, and let the Czech defense set, and 9 times out of 10, they didn't even manage a shot out of it. It's very cautious offense--they're playing like a team with a lot to lose who's trying not to lose. And failing.

Ugly stuff from a team that all the talking heads are calling the best ever that the US has sent to the Cup.



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This page is a archive of entries in the sports category from June 2006.

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