US U-17s Thrash Mexico 4-1

The US U-17s played in Tampa yesterday before the National Team took the field.  They put on quite a show, destroying our neighbors to the south 4-1.

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Recap [USA vs. Denmark, 11.18.09]

The less said about this match, the better. It was painful to watch at moments. I think that this is one of those matches that we’re supposed to learn from. So, what did we learn?

Landon Donovan is even more integral to this team than we could have imagined. We knew he was the driving force, but the team looks completely lost without him. Let’s just hope that he stays healthy.
-Can we stop seeing Frankie Hejduk on the field for the US? Please? I’ve never really been a fan, but I can’t see what he’s adding to the team at this point…other than a shocking number of slide tackles.
Jozy Altidore is off his game. I love the guy, but he really hasn’t been playing well lately. Unfortunately, there’s no one behind him in the pecking order to replace him. Hopefully, he’ll see more playing time at Hull in the near future.
-What is Bob Bradley telling these guys in the locker room at half time? Seriously. How many times this year have we seen the boys come out of the locker room and allow a goal (or three) in the first 10 minutes of the second half? I don’t have any stats on this (yet), but it’s a lot. And it just keeps happening.

Man of the Match: Hmmm…this is a tough one. No one really impressed here. I’ll give it to Jeff Cunningham and Benny Feilhaber.
Goat of the Game: So many to choose from…Spector seemed lost on the goals, and Hejduk and Bornstein were less than impressive, but I feel like a lack of effort by the midfield made the back line look even worse than they were. Verdict: too close to call.

Recap [USA vs. Slovakia, 11.14.09]

MATCH ANALYSISThe USA played the first of its pre-World Cup friendlies against Slovakia on Saturday.  With nothing to play for, Bob Bradley utilized the opportunity to test his team’s depth.  The results?  Despite the 0-1 defeat, there were more positives than negatives.

Most promising of the group were the performances of our center backs and central midfield.  Although I would have liked to see Spector at left back, I was glad to see Bradley test his versatility by pairing him with Bocanegra in the middle.  He showed very well–well enough that I’d be comfortable putting him anywhere on the back line.  Michael Bradley and Benny Feilhaber also worked well together, showing some promise as a midfield tandem.  Although I do like Ricardo Clark, his skill set seems slightly redundant with Bradley on the field.  Benny can hold the ball and is more precise and creative in his passing.  While the US’ 2-to-1 advantage in ball possession should mostly be attributed to Slovakia’s insistence on keeping 10 men behind the ball at all times, our central midfielders should be given some credit for the success. Continue reading

USA win the group!

The 2-0 first-half deficit made it seem unlikely, but the US were able to battle back to match points with Mexico, and therefore, win the group.  Well done, boys!  Here are some thoughts from the game:

-It was great to see the US create so many chances.  You’d like to see us finish more of those (obviously), but on another day, it could have easily been 5-2.

-Despite John Harkes’ love for our left back, I think Bornstein actually had a pretty bad game (other than the goal at the end, which was pretty great).  He has the speed, but he gets beat a little too easily.  He isn’t that great on the ball.  His crosses aren’t very good.  I’d like to see us try out some other options at left back.

-Benny!  You look so good coming off the bench.  Why can’t you make more of your starting opportunities?

-Robbie Rogers looked good out there.  I don’t think Holden should be a lock as Dempsey’s replacement.

-Torres needs more playing time.

-That’s the Conor Casey we’re used to seeing.  I think it’s time to give Kenny Cooper another crack at the starting XI.

-Jozy Altidore may have had the best Brian Ching performance ever (distributing, drawing fouls, but unable to finish).  He is very close to being an absolute monster.

-Gooch out 3-4 months.  DeMerit out indefinitely.  Davies out 6-12 months.  Our depth is about to be put to the test.

-For the next two games, I’m a Costa Rica fan.  Let’s hope Ruiz can put in performances against Uruguay like the one he did against the US last night.  Best of luck, Ticos.

United States qualify for 2010 World Cup!!!

The 3-2 victory in Honduras clinched it. Well done, lads!!

Cooper scores in 1860 Munich debut

Just a quick note:  Cooper has scored in his debut.  His team won.  Great start to his campaign.

USA 0 – 5 Mexico

I sure can pick them.  Since I am originally from Omaha, NE, and I recently graduated college from Wesleyan University in central Connecticut, I haven’t had too many opportunities to watch the USA play in person over the years.  In fact, I’ve had only two.  The first was in 2005, when a half-strength USA lost 1-2 to a second-team England (it was a Kieran Richardson brace that did it, if that tells you anything).   And now this.  I get to watch the likes of Heaps, Pause, and Arnaud go down 0-5 to Mexico.  Yes, I was there to hear the chants of “Si se puede!” turn to “Si se pudo!”  (Sorry for any misspellings.)  I was there to get drenched by the volcano of beer, Pepsi, and barbecue sauce (?) that errupted every time Mexico scored a goal.  I was there to witness the worst ever defeat to Mexico on US soil.  Considering I was in the top tier, in the cheapest seats available, I’ll leave the detailed commentary to those who are in a better position to write it (maybe I’ll throw something in after I re-watch the game on TV).  For now, I’ll do my best to help my fellow American soccer fans take something positive from this match:

-0-5 sounds a little more lopsided that it actually was.  The game was pretty evenly matched (I believe it slightly favored the Americans) for the first 55 minutes.

-Blame the ref!  That yellow card on Pause for his late shot was bad.  The red card on Heaps was worse.  And that penalty was absolutely horrible–it completely swung the game in Mexico’s favor.  Note to Americans: When playing in Mexico City, remember that an elbow to a defender’s face = penalty.  (In all seriousness, while the penalty call was bad, one would hope that a national team could deal with adversity a little better.)

-We still have the “This was our “C” team!” excuse.

-Expectations were getting a little unrealistic.  Our success in the Confederations Cup left us feeling invincible (except, of course, for 45 minutes against Brazil, but does that really count?).  American fans should be happy to take a point from Mexico City, and they certainly shouldn’t expect a win.  Perhaps this loss, even though this team will have very little overlap with the one that plays in the Azteca, will bring us down to Earth.  That’s not so bad.

-There was nothing big on the line here.  The powers of CONCACAF left the big guns at home.  The winner isn’t going on to the Confederations Cup.  This game was only about pride.  While ours suffered a bruise, besides a friendly, there probably isn’t a better time to lose to Mexico.

Congrats on your win, Mexico.  But let’s put things in perspective: