Thursday, June 22, 2006

US Flopped


The US Soccer team failed to advance to the knockout round today, losing to Ghana 2-1.

This was a tough group to be in, one of the two toughest in this World Cup. Both the 2nd ranked team (the Czech Republic) and the 5th ranked team in the world (USA) failed to make it out of the group. But it was up to the US to take care of business today against Ghana and let the rest fall as it may.

Well, we didn't take care of business. We didn't play like we were fighting for anything. I saw no urgency on the field, little emotion and once the team fell behind, no fear of losing. The team seemed content to take their time and wait for their chances to come. They did come, but when your back is against the wall, you throw flurries of punches, not wait for the perfect chance. I expected us to fight like the wounded animal we were. But no.

Alas, our tactical genious, Bruce Arena, decided to play it conservative again starting with a 4-5-1 lineup. We needed attack, and lots of it. Not going to get that with just one forward. Not enough of it. Basically, we trotted out the same lineup that failed miserably against the Czech Republic. True, no one saw that coming. Genius I tell you.

I've not been impressed with Damarcus Beasley either this WC. He's been 'out of form' it seems but he did finally take the ball and run between our opponent's defenders today, and served up a delicious cross that was devoured by a streaking Clint Dempsey. That tied the game up today at 1 all. We had some life there briefly.

But then, the men in stripes turned against us again. They fell for phantom fouls and dives perpetuated by the Ghanans. The officials even gifted our opponents with a very questionable PK. And that was all they wrote.

Our team came out the second half and appeared almost afraid to take on the "African Brazil". We had our chances but only when Ghana lost possession due to their own lack of skill. I wanted us to take it to them, press them and make them turn the ball over. Instead, we watched Ghana waste time and keep the ball away from us.

On top of all this, our stalwart keeper, Kasey Keller did not appear to be very sharp this WC. Very dissappointing as we've come to expect above average net minding at least. Today, he didn't control the six-yard / goal box. This WC, crosses went unchallenged by our former Spiderman-like keeper. Not a way to finish your WC career.

Donovan has been missing in action too. Well, until his shanked freekick attempt 'wide right' of anything remotely located in Germany.

And on a side-note, anyone notice the lack of Ghanan sportsmanship in not kicking the ball out when Claudia Reyna was injured on the 1-0 goal? :P

I'm disgusted. Two more years till US quallies pick up again. I hope to see more younger players with fire in their bellies on the team. Not so sure I want Arena around again, though I love the depth thathe's helped build on the squad and am very thankful for the successes he's brought us, but this was a poor showing by him and our team.