So I just got back from Gordon Biersch watching the Czech Republic dominate the USA. “Sucked” is an understatement. There were several players who had bad games, the coach made some decisions I don’t agree with, we gave up an early goal, we lacked effort at times, we got soundly beat in all areas, and now we’re in the hole to try and get out of our group.
The positives I can take away from this is that the BlackJack Burger was very good. It was a special of the day, and had a blackened burger topped with pepperjack cheese along with a side of fries. Very filling and tasty it matched up well with the 2 Schwarzbiers I had… I should be passing into a food coma any moment now. Also, the bartender was a cutie, looking vaguely reminiscent of Uma Thurman if Uma were pretty, ya know, with her eyes not set so far apart like the headlights of a Pontiac GrandPrix WideTrac. She was very friendly, unlike the dufus on Friday who didn’t know why so many people all showed up at the same time (Germany vs Costa Rica opening game). Also, there was a very nice gentleman from Barnes & Nobles who had stopped by to watch before his shift started. Politely asked if he could smoke (even though we were in the smoking bar area), and asked good (i.e. not dumb) questions about the teams and World Cup.
OK, so I didnt have an issue with the starting lineup. My only concern was Beasley, who had played poorly for the last 6months, but really there isn’t a better option at right mid keeping in mind the way Bruce wanted to play. And I make that assumption because Bruce used a 433 quite frequently during the run up to the cup with mixed success. But I’m happy with the rest of the lineup. It was a group that was setup to defend and counter-attack into open space.
But, as they say with any battlefield plan. It all goes out the window once the first bullet is fired. And the first bullet by the Czechs was an unmarked(!) Koller (i don’t know how you miss him, he’s huge) lumbering through the box to get his big coconut onto a cross for an early 1-0 lead with barely 5 minutes gone by. OK. Fine. So now the US is forced to attack and carry the run of play. Only Beasley’s first touch is like a nerd getting to first base for the first time. Fumbling, bumbling, stumbling. If he didn’t immediately turn the ball over, he made a simple backpass, killing any and all momentum we may have had going forward. Then McBride, who makes a living with his back to goal, also caught a case of leadfoot. He can be excused though since he is normally a solid player, but Beasley hasn’t played well in MONTHS. Donovan was invisible, Convey only slightly better, but he was starved for service as everything came down the right side where Beasley was.
So we get to half-time down 2-0. I hated the subs. O’Brien and Johnson in, Cherundolo and Mastroeni out. So essentially, moving to a 3 defender backline with one (Lewis) who is not normally a stay at home kinda guy. O’Brien plays just in front of the defense, presumably to link up with the midfield. Johnson, who plays terribly with his back to goal, almost as bad as Beasley in this regard was a poor choice to bring in. Johnson you start from the beginning or if you are even or ahead because he’s great in open space where he can use his speed and power to cause trouble. But in confined space, he’s just a turnover machine. And, we still haven’t solved the problem of Beasley stinking up the joint. Without Cherundolo on the right there was no one to serve crosses from the right side, Convey has to play deeper since he no longer has fullback cover (moved to 3backs, remember?) so crosses from that side were less as well.
So to start out the game, our strengths were great crossing from both sides and speed in the open field. At the end of the game we had no crossing from either side and lots of speed with no room in which to run. It seems as though Bruce made his starting lineup without thinking how he would adjust if he were losing or tied or ahead. We became completely unbalanced and desperate as the game wore on. I never thought we would score unless by luck or an error by the Czechs.
Now, the players also deserve alot of the blame as well. They lost way too many 50-50 balls, and almost all of the 2nd balls. They looked slow in mind and body, and for a team that is supposed to be built on speed they really didn’t show it.
Now that this enormous hole has been dug, lets see how they dig out of it. If they can. Next game is against Italy on Saturday, and I’d like to see how they respond.