OK, instead of editing the previous post since its a day later I’ll just make a new one. First, for your reading…

  • Arena Vows To Revise U.S. Lineup (Washington Post – Steven Goff) and Changes ahead for United States (Fox Sports World)
    These two articles recap Bruce Arena’s press conference on Tuesday. He had a chance to reflect a bit on his post-game comments and touched on the Beasley subject
  • U.S. Loss Sets Ratings Record for ESPN2 (Washington Post)
    The United States’ 3-0 loss to the Czech Republic was watched by 2.14 million households, the most to see a soccer game on ESPN2….It was the most-watched program on the network this year” Its just a shame that all those people couldn’t watch the USA win over the Czechs. This number should be higher if they included people watching at bars and restaurants. In Tysons Corner I, all the bars were standing room only as all seats were taken.
  • Bruce Arena’s coaching and tactics (BigSoccer)
    Quite simply, the most bi-polar commentary of the game. Some jewels of wisdom mixed in with the dregs of humanity. A good read, but its already 15 pages long…

So now that I’ve watched the game a few times (yes, I’m a glutton for punishment), I feel a little better about the game and still have a slight margin of hope for the rest of the tournament.

I think the original game plan by Bruce Arena was pretty good, although obvisouly not perfect. What he was expecting was the Czech Republic to push early looking to score. The US would be able to counter into space with the speed of Donovan, Beasley, and Convey. This was a reasonable expectation.

Apparently, the CZechs expected it too as they actually used the same plan, only to much better effect. They consistently only attacked with three (Koller, Rosicky, Nedved) pushing numbers forward only occasionally. So instead of attacking into space, the US midfielders (Donovan, Beasley, Convey) were instead running directly into 2-3 players at a time. McBride, who was expected to knock the ball down to onrushing midfielders was surrounded and unable to find his teammates who were too far away. Then the Czechs scored after 5 minutes.

There were several things that ruined the day:

  • Early cheap yellow card by Onyewu. It was unnecessary since he had players behind him. It meant he had to be careful the rest of the match. It meant on the third goal he couldn’t take down Rosicky before he got a head start and ran right by him. It was also a silly foul since he barely touched him. I figure if youre going to get a card, you may as well get your money’s worth. Knock out a few teeth or something
  • Keller’s quick clearance to nobody in particular led to the Czech counter into the hole left by Lewis and Convey, who were nowhere to be seen. Mastroeni tried in vain to get there, but was too little too late to prevent the cross to Koller for the first goal.
  • Reyna took his sweet time stepping out to Rosicky on the second goal after a poor clearance from Onyewu into the center of the field (you never do that). I guess neither he nor Keller expected him to shoot.
  • Beasley’s really really poor play
  • Giving up the first goal

Leadfoot Beasley absolutely refused to take anybody on, always either losing the ball directly or passing back. His play was so bad on all levels that it isn’t even worth going into detail.

Donovan was insignificant. Even though you can assume he was supposed to be playing high next to McBride he never really tried to get behind the defense. Admittedly that would have been hard since they were perched at the 18 yard box. His only success was the few times he tracked back into midfield and managed to get the ball and make a run from deep. This was where he was dangerous. But if you notce, he got whacked hard on one run in the 25 min or so, and that promptly put an end to that. I thought he was past the point where you could take him off his game by roughing him up. I guess I was wrong.

McBride was starved of good service and was constantly flanked by defenders. The few times he received the ball with space he was too far from goal to do anything, and too far away from teammates to connect. Convey was ready and willing, but the whole team knew he was going to try and dribble past since there was no one close enough to even threaten to pass to.

Defensively, I thought the only weak link was Cherundolo. While he didn’t make any errors, he had the only real nervous momentsin the game. Onyewu was a monster most of the game, winning about 90% of the headers. The problem is no one was winning the second ball except for Czech players. Mastroeni & Reyna were too far away from the defensive line, and for that matter Pope, Lewis or Cherundolo should have been close enough since they weren’t marking anyone. This let Nedved and Rosicky receive the ball and face the defense.

Much credit should be given to the Czechs. They played intelligently, moved quickly, and took advantage of every chance they got. They were actually unlucky to not score another as someone (Rosicky?) hit the post and Keller was completely out of play. They defended in numbers and attacked when they had the advantage. Each time we looked about to turn it around, they scored.

Now where can the US go from here? They put themselves in a really poor position not just because they lost… but because they lost by 3 goals. There is a not too unrealistic scenario on BigSoccer where the US wins against both Italy and Ghana by one goal and still fails to advance. Italy beating Ghana didn’t help. At this point, we want the Czech Republic to keep winning, Italy hopefully loses to the US and Czech Republic, Ghana loses to Czech Republic and the US. That would put the US in second place. If there is any other scenario, we will just end up hoping and praying that the right combination of points, goals, and luck goes our way.

To succeed, or at least go out without being embarrassed we must do several things.

  • Rule #1 is DO NOT LET THEM SCORE FIRST. If Italy scores first, you can forget about it. Ghana, we might have a chance but lets not find out.
  • Beasley cannot start anymore games. He can come on as a defensive sub, thats it.
  • Donovan needs to man up, and get himself involved in the play somehow someway. Ideally, he should be in the midfield, but we’ll see.
  • We need to play with two forwards, especially at the start. We should never start another game during this tournament with only one striker.
  • Eddie Johnson needs to start. He had 3 solid chances to score, incidentily those were 3 outta four of our total chances (Reyna’s blast off the post being the other)
  • We must play quicker. The team that showed up against the Czechs is the team that lost to Morocco before the WC started. We need the team that beat Poland and Norway in the Spring, and beat Venezuela and Latvia before the WC. The runs that are signature USA must come back. Our fitness level needs to shine as that is also one of our hallmarks.

I’m ready to see what happens on Saturday. let’s see if the team is also ready.

One response to “USA, between the games.

  1. “inciteful, interesting- another work of art” says the Chicago tribune

    “harvey has done it again!” raves the washington post magazine

    “why havent we showered this man with praise and money yet?” comments the New York Times

    – i have high hopes for the italy game. usa can still do it.

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