Thursday, June 22, 2006

US crashes out predictably

Not that it was predictable because their group was difficult (which it was).

Not that it was predictable because they needed help (which they did).

Not even that it was predictable because US foreign policy is so bad that referees from all over the world have it out for us just because we love freedom so damn much (any other explanations?).

The US predictably failed to advance because they put one shot on frame in thee games (it was Dempsey's today, and it went in).

Depressingly, this squad doesn't look to have very many guys who given two pieces of bread, some mayonaise, mustard, and a slice of bologna, could finish a sandwich. To put it another way, if coffee is for closers, right now there's a whole bunch of US guys in the lockerroom (that's what we call it in America sorry) with severe caffeine-withdrawl headaches. This team cannot score consistently, and the problem becomes even worse when they fall behind.

They played most of today's game somewhat like they played the middle 40 minutes of the Italy game (20 on either side of halftime). Throughout the game, and especially the 2nd half, they won corners, had a few free kicks in dangerous positions and sprung some guys through on good runs - both up the middle and on the flank.

Once in dangerous territory, the quality of the service was poor probably 60% of the time. 10% of the time the passer and the recipient of the pass were not on the same page - Donovan played one nice chipped ball for Beasley who never made a run thinking he would be offside (I don't think he was), and then the rest (about 30%) was due to poor finishing. I'd say they had 4-5 really solid scoring opportunities and never put the ball on net, much less in it. Tough break, innit?

Crosses that found their mark were ballooned over. Donovan scuffed a couple shots off of good service, a cross that should have hit Lewis squarely in the forehead at about the 12, somehow went about an inch over his head as both his boots were on the floor and his knees were bent. Wasteful shots from Convey and Bocanegra, wasteful passes when a shot was called for. Onyewu couldn't get over the top of a header and looped it onto the roof of the net when he really should have done better. McBride's solid header onto the post was probably covered by the keep.

Throughout the 2nd half, the US dominated possession but Ghana always seemed more likely to score on the counterattack. I don't believe there were any saves for Ghana keeper (a few punches and catches on service maybe but I don't believe he was ever forced to turn a shot away).

The frustrating part is the US probably had a makeup PK call coming if they could have gotten a guy running into the box but it wasn't to be. To their credit, the US are not divers, unlike the Black Stars who rolled around the pitch like Frenchmen all afternoon. When they weren't writhing in agonizing pain, Ghana sat back with 8-10 men behind the ball and defended for the majority of the second half.

I complained about the ref earlier but I think the US got the majority of the 50/50 calls in the second half and as they were the aggressor, Ghana was fouling which explains the foul differential (35 Ghana, 15 US). Still, the US never looked creative or incisive enough to take advantage. And for the many-ith time in a row, they left their finishing boots at home.

The final insult was in about the 89th minute. Donovan picked up a wayward clearance, beat one guy and strolled into the box. The Ghana defense shaded him on his left - inviting him toward the goal. They were all protecting against the pass, daring him to run at the net or shoot. Predictably (well, at least the Ghana defenders were predicting it), Donovan hesitated for a second and then laid it off to the top of the 18 and Ghana defended easily.

While he may not have scored had he taken off toward the net, the only thing you can take from watching his decision making process was that he was scared to have a go. A collective groan went up in the establishment where I was taking a 'working breakfast' followed quickly by a chant seldom heard from your supporters - "O-ver-rated! (clap clap clap clap clap) O-ver-ray-ted (clap clap clap clap clap)".

That moment will define Donovan for 4 years - maybe forever if he continues playing in the MLS. The golden boy of US Soccer has a little something to learn from the great one of Canadian hockey- "100 percent of the shots you don't take, don't go in."

Predictably, the US generated chances but few shots. Predictably, they're going home.


Reyna's giveaway was awful. There maybe was a foul but still... embarrassing. Really gross. And that's too bad - he's been a good player. Shame that his pooping himself will be his last memory as a US international.

Dempsey was the man of the match and tournament for the US I think. His goal, while hit hard, was not precise or particularly well taken (it skimmed the keepers right hip and went into the middle of the net chest high). Goes to show what a little fearlessnes and putting the ball on frame can do. He'll be in Europe in a year. Maybe they'll enjoy his awful rapping.

Despite the fact that Bocanegra made an all-world stupid play on the clearance that led to it (all he had to do was hoof it up the line or touch it out, instead he tried to turn toward the middle of the field and clear it long and high - he sliced a huge rainbow about 50 yards in the air that came down near the top of the box) the PK was bullshit. Onyewu and Pimpong were there for a 50/50 ball. Onyewu won it, headed it clear, the Ghana guy fell down, and all of the sudden the ref is pointing to the spot and Ghana is up 2-1. Really disappointing.

It's hard to blame a single one of the six goals on him, but for all the hype as the best keeper in the world Keller didn't really ever make a difference.


Garwood B. Jones said...

And how about Donovan's free kicks? Particularly the one that looked like it was meant for a back post play but instead skied slowly over the end line, out of the penalty area? That was in a dangerous shooting spot? Don't we have anyone on this squad that can shoot from distance? I don't think anyone is going to be worried about hacking down US players 20-25 yards out until we can put some fear into them by at least getting shots from set pieces.

(Man, I'm still pretty worked up about this...)

Big Blue Monkey said...

I'm glad you wrote it. now I don't have to.

Deformity Betty said...

When was Claudio Reyna ever a good player? - I mean, sure he could beat my mom, but I mean relative to international play. I think he has been of the great goats of the tournament. He cost the team that long-range Czech goal in the first game and came damn close to costing the US a couple more in the Italy game. He finally was so completely embarassed today that he pretended to be hurt and took himself out of the match.