July 3, 2007


I didn't even want to deal with anything soccer-related after the US match last night with Paraguay. The score truly didn't reflect the play on the field, and I think that's what drove me crazy the most.

The Argentina game, the score also didn't reflect the play for the majority of the game, but it was pretty clear that there was a big difference in class between the two teams. The last 30 minutes drove that home when Eddie Gaven was chasing Messi and Aimar down the wing. 4-1 was harsh, but Argentina clearly deserved the win.

Against Paraguay, two stupid defensive mistakes crushed what was otherwise a strong performance. The first Paraguay goal, you can at least give them credit for good combination play through the middle of the field. The Americans in the middle (Clark, Feilhaber, Conrad, and DeMerit) fell asleep watching the play and let people run free. The second goal was just an awful miscommunication between Bornstein, Conrad, and Keller. I think Juanito was trying to play it all the way back to Keller, but just failed miserably. Conrad didn't react to the misplay at all though.

The third Paraguay goal was an excellent free kick when the game was already decided.

The US created many chances and overall played pretty well. I was very impressed with Drew Moor at right back. There were a few times he seemed out of his element (a couple of times in 1v1 defensive situations, the header directly at the keeper), but overall he was very good in his first cap. He delivered the best, consistent service from outside all night. Ricardo Clark was the US man of the match. One very nice goal, one nearly great goal to level the score, and solid defensive play in front of the back four.

I was also pleasantly surprised with Eddie Johnson. He has greatly improved his play with his back to the goal, and did a good job holding up play and waiting for help. The only thing, sometimes he needed to turn and run at defenders. He is starting to put everything together, he just needs a little more variety in his game now. Twellman did well with the passing and flicks, but he scuffed two chances that he needed to bury. I just don't think he's cut out for this level, sorry Taylor.

I would've rather seen Mapp than Kljestan on the left side, or at least made the change at the half. Sacha was alright, but didn't really add much and disappeared for big stretches of the game. I thought Conrad struggled for the most part, and DeMerit was the better of the two center backs. I was surprised to see Olsen come out, I thought he was doing well. He should've put more balls into the box quicker, but overall he did well. I also would've rather seen Guzan than Keller. It's stood out to me in the Gold Cup and Copa America that Kasey has lost a couple of steps at this point. His reactions and speed are diminished from where they were even last summer. His positioning bails him out a lot of times, but he can't make the big saves he used to. It's time to see the next wave so we can figure out who's behind T-Ho.

The US deserved at least a point out of the match, if not three. I still think the experience is going to be a valuable part of our preparation for the next qualifying cycle. Bradley has some guts in making the moves he's made over the last few weeks. He knows that while this competition matters once you step on the field, in the grand scheme of things, there are more important things in the big picture.

That's what I kept telling myself and I cursed all the missed chances...

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