I know this is a little late, but oh well...
Before we get to the US/Ghana game… what the Hell is up with the White House wanting journalist to leak their sources? First it was (half heartily) wanting Judith Miller and that dude from Time to give up their sources in the Valerie Plume case. And now this… they’re putting pressure on the federal judge to make the SanFran Chronicle writers give up their sources in the BALCO case. Us on the left, or at least me and another guy I know, have been saying for a few years now that “At least we’ve got our first amendment rights” but it appears that Bush is now taking the first step of taking those away too. AWESOME. I can’t wait to not be able to speak my mind and be fed bullshit from the administration and then read about it as FACT in the Post. (Yes, that’s a dig at the Washington Post’s lack of reporting leading up to the War in Iraq where they sold their soul to be fed the bullshit the White House fed them for the sake of ‘reporting it first’. Nice call on that one PostPeople. You still look like fools and I wish the NYTimes and Journal would take you to task for it).
Okay, no on to world peace… ummm… the World Cup. Let’s just cut to the chase, the US lost 2-1 to Ghana today. They’re out of the World Cup. Ghana moves on to play Brazil on Tuesday. As for why the US lost… let’s cut to the chase again.
“All around the pitch there is quality, but no Essien, Nedved, Gerrard, Ballack, Ronaldinho, Saviola, Figo, Robben.” -- Michael Davies
And that sums up the United States 2006 World Cup.
I could, and will, write more… but that’s it right there. That’s the reason the US is going home and not getting ready to face Brazil. Disagree with some of those names if you will (Figo? I guess he’s been aiight this Cup but still) but that’s the point. The US, at the end of the day, lacks that one player who can dominate a game. If we learned anything from this World Cup, it’s that Landon Donovan is not and will not be that player, so let’s just lay that to rest.
Did the US deserve to lose this game? Probably not… a 1-1 or 2-2 draw seems fair. But McBride hit the post and the ref gave Ghana a very generous penalty. But that wasn’t the only reason why the US lost. But let’s just get the who penalty stuff out of the way first.
The penalty, which basically destroyed any hope that the US had, was a bad call. There’s no other way around it. But two things:
1) Bocanegra’s clear was pit…i…ful. Maybe he didn’t realize that Ghana’s Pimpong was in the middle… I don’t know. But he should have given up the throw instead of kicking it 500 feet in the air and leaving Gooch alone on an island with Pimpong in the middle of the field at the edge of the box.
2) Gooch played the ball, he didn’t push Pimpong, and it should not have been a penalty… it was a bad call. But instead of getting pissed at the ref (who was terrible, though terrible for both sides); I’m going to get pissed at FIFA much like this Guardian blog entry. Has FIFA ever given a good reason as to why there are not two refs on the field at all times? One behind and another in front of the play. I bet we'd see diving, missed calls, and dubious calls cut by more than half and the game would have a much better flow and truly be 'beautiful.' There is no way a 35/40 year old man can watch twenty-two 25 year old males who can run at near Reggie Bush, err, Thierry Henry, like speed while kicking, passing, and fighting for balls in the air and on the ground. I think the second ref is the answer. Does any other sport only have one umpire/ref 'watching' the entire game? Of course, this makes too much sense so who am I kidding?
I mean could you imagine an NFL game being called by one ref and two side judges who don’t do anything? Can you imagine a baseball game umped by one man in Blue? Of course not, you’d see blown calls and dubious decisions left right and center. So why hasn’t FIFA caught on to this? They need two refs and they need to start doing this tomorrow.
Oh well… moving on. Most interesting ‘subplot’ of the US team during the World Cup had to be DeMarcus Beasley who, depending on who you talked to was either complete rubbish or totally missed used by Arena (okay maybe only VFLOAB thinks that, but something weird was going on there). VFLOAB has no clue. He was brutal in the first game against the Czechs. Against Italy he came on and played well, even netting a goal that was disallowed. Today against Ghana he set up the US only goal, had a few nice tackles, but didn’t seem to go forward nearly enough. I’m sure Arena wanted him to play more of a holding midfield… but why waste Beasley in the middle holding? Or was Beasley refusing to go forward all the time? What was going on there?
And speaking of Arena, there’s no way he’s back after getting completely and totally out coached in all three games. I felt like I was watching Tony La Russa coach US soccer. That’s not a good thing. I’m not sure if the US has no creativity, or that Arena won’t let them be creative. The system not only didn’t work, it depended on other teams playing flat and the US getting calls… both of which didn’t happen. The fact that Eddie Johnson saw something like 60 minutes of play is shocking considering he’s the only US forward that can score with his feet. God bless Brian McBride, I love the guy, but has anyone ever seen him score a goal with his feet? But back to Arena, he was out coached in all three games. The team wasn’t ready to play against the Czechs. He almost cost the US the Italy game by not using the last sub. And today against Ghana, the 4-5-1 spelled doom for the get go… then he waited far too long to bring on Eddie Johnson after the second Ghana goal. When Renya had to go off, Johnson should have been brought on. The US played far too conservative to advance in this tournament. And I’m blaming Arena for that.
I’m not sure anyone other than Clint Dempsey had a good World Cup for the US. Keller, besides that nice save in the Italy game, didn’t do anything to install confidence. The back line wasn’t bad, but poor marking against the Czechs killed them. Eddie Pope had a very bad Cup… he was responsible for two of the goals scored against the US, and maybe even three. Gooch did have a good Cup and Cherundolo was a pleasant surprise I thought. The midfield, which everyone figured was the US strong point, had a pretty bad time in Germany. Beasley’s problems are well chronicled. Landon Donovan was MIA against the Czechs and the first half against Italy, and then failed to have any impact against Ghana. Renya seemed flat… Convey played well and did a lot of running, but not much else at the end of the day. The US showed they were a much, much better team when Dempsey was on the pitch and if it wasn’t for him, would be going home in even worse shape. The forwards didn’t do much either… McBride didn’t bag a goal, and since he can only use his head, he needs someone that can play off him. Either Eddie Johnson can’t do that, or Bruce Arena is too scared to find out. Donovan playing a forward roll was a disaster.
But the US will look back and think… if only Renya’s daisy cutter had found the net to tie it up 1-1 against the Czechs… if only Convey kicked it on net instead of a field goal in the first half against Italy… if only McBride was onside against Italy when Beasley scored… and if only McBride didn’t hit the post and tied it up 2-2 against Ghana. And if only we had one good ref…
But that’s the way it goes. Three and out… a point against Italy all the US has to show.
So on to South Africa for the United States. Hopefully it will be known as “Freddy Adu’s Coming Out Party”.