My two favorite sports soccer and football had a really great weekend.
The weekend started early as the US Under-20 team played Haiti in trying to qualify for this summer’s FIFA U20 World Cup tournament. They won fairly convincingly 4-1, with Haiti only scoring late on a penalty kick that was stupidly given by Quavas Kirk who had an otherwise good match.
A couple quick notes about the match. It took me a while to figure out what formation the US was in, and who was playing where. It actually wasn’t until I saw a postgame comment about Thomas Rongen (U20 head coach) using a 4-3-3 formation that I finally got it. Freddy Adu was in the play making role behind the 3 forwards (Zizzo, Rogers and Akpan) with two dedicated defensive mids behind him in Wallace and Szetela. Szetela was quiet but efficient, while Wallace really shined by winning tackles and getting forward into the attack.
Freddy had a pretty decent match against some pretty sub-par competition. When on the ball he made some really nice passes, had some really good runs with the ball. He showed well for the ball (altho his teammates didn’t do him any favors in passing him the ball) and generally tried to run the offense. When under pressure he generally did a good job of maintaining possession by passing laterally or back and when not under pressure he turned and pushed upfield well. What I didn’t like tho, was his complete lack of interest in defending. I can only assume that Rongen told him not to worry about it since he had two DMs in there, but really it just looked like he was being lazy. When he played for DC he gave effort (altho wasn’t that effective) so I know he can, he just chose not to for some reason.
Didn’t see much of the Guatemala game, so I can’t comment too much on that game, but I did see the senior US team play against Denmark on Saturday. Overall, the US played well, but not spectacular. I give a lot of credit to Denmark, they played very compact and tried to counter over the top of the US defense, generally just being very difficult to break down. Boswell (DC United) played very well before he was subbed out and replaced by Dan Calif (where in the heck has he been?). Namoff (also DC United) played OK in his limited time, nothing great, but nothing bad either. Another note is Bornstein got his first cap and looked mighty scared and young, but handled himself like a kid who was just a _little_ bit above his head. I think a bit more experience and he could be a nice option here.
Donovan was dangerous only once or twice when he was in space. But he showed an astounding inability to take players on 1v1 which was his trademark just a few years ago. Really, at this point he is just an afterthought in my mind and his spot should no longer be guarunteed in the lineup.
Eddie Johnson is in the same boat. MLS missed out big time when they turned down a 5 million dollar (or maybe Euro or british pounds, cant recall) offer from Benfica (if memory serves) after he went on a tear of 8 goals in 10 games for the national team. Then he hurt his foot and hasn’t been the same since. Now he gives even mediocrity a bad name…
Then back to the U20’s and their spanking Panama 5-0. Freddy had 2 goals in this one, but as yet I haven’t seen it so can’t really comment too much other than the very little that I saw showed the same as in the first game against Haiti. Good movement on offense, zero on defense. Also, looks like DC United draftee Bryan Arguez got into the game. If he’s who i thought he was, he was a very lanky, very tall guy with pretty good touch.
I’ll have a lot of catching up to do with soccer this week :)