Crushed Optimists

We are twin brothers who grew up in Central Washington. This blog is devoted to the life of Seattle sports fans, as well as various other topics that we will espouse for your enjoyment. We could be called another OFFICIAL SEATTLE SEAHAWKS site, but we'll take our uneducated crack at the Mariners, Sonics, and Huskies as well. A Seattle Sports Blog? Must be the land... of crushed optimism!

Friday, June 16, 2006

D-Day is now June 17th

Ok, now that I've got your attention, with the battle/showdown happening tomorrow one thing we all need a little of is optimism for our US national futbol team. If there truly are as good as we know they are, this game will showcase their talents and look very different than the Czech disaster. If the Yanks actually show up and realize they have moved beyond "warmup" matches they have a chance. And a good one, I might add. They are good enough to beat Italy. In fact, I think it's quite possible. And if we're tied 1-1 or 2-2 near the end of the game, I'd rather see us take great risks at the end of the game while trying to get the winning goal than sputter to a useless draw (same as a loss here).

But the initial 10 minutes are uber-key. Just as we saw Koller break our confidence only 5 minutes in, we can do that and more to an emotional Italian side. Did you see how they celebrated their second goal over Ghana? It was as if they'd all advanced to the Cup finals...and that coming from a horrible mistake by the defender to gift a poaching Italian striker. Ghana were in it to possible force a draw until that moment. Just dwelling on that point gives me more optimism. The first Italian goal was incredible. Given enough space at the edge of the box to touch ahead and score, any decent striker in the same scenario should at least hit near the far post like the Italian striker did. And did he ever--an incredible goal I'll credit him with (seems this tournament has quite its share of long range blasts) but the keeper was forced to react a millisecond late due to the forest of players between him and the shooter. So we'll concede a goal or two - that's just how it is playing a great side. But we are good enough to equalize and go ahead. Should we somehow score first, the momentum would be with us...

But enough of what could be. What is true is that the success of 2002 is behind. We are a different team (better, potentially) but not as unknown as 4 years ago. Sure Italy could hardly name a player on our side earlier this week, but that was before their video sessions. I am confident that Bruce Arena will have saturated our team with knowledge of all the Italian strengths and weaknesses as well.

What can I take from the Czech game? I feel Cherundolo is a liability in the right back. True he had to mark Nedved often and got schooled here and there, but we can't expect the Italian attack will be any easier. Bruce, start someone else please. Another beef I have is with our midfield, who after receiving the ball hardly turned and went to goal. If I got a quarter for every back pass... Reyna was often guilty of this, but he should be the one bringing the ball up past midfield, not our defense. He should be distributing facing the goal, not vice-versa. Beasley and Donovan started to get some passes together, but along with everyone else, they wilted in the heat of immediate pressure by the CR defenders. Quick one touch passing would have been key but you can't expect that of a team lacking that kind of sharpness. And as a last negative point, our forwards were least involved in the game. McBride might have flicked one ball on with his back to the goal, but I don't recall any other times seeing him except when he was replaced, and rightly so. I was impressed with Eddie Johnson. He brought an urgency to our attack that was obviously what Arena communicated to him before he entered the game. If the air strikes via McBride don't work out or he isn't starting, I'd choose to pair Johnson and Donovan up front or at least Landon in more of an attacking midfielder position.

So one must end with the positives of that game. I saw short flashes of brilliance by our midfield in almost-crisp passing. We can cross the ball well and maybe that will be an Italian weakness (had McBride made runs to the right post when Eddie Lewis crossed in from the left, I think we could have connected on some actual shots). And Reyna is a great leader. He seemed to be the only one playing on so many runs that I have to think the team aspect of the game will be more emphasized tomorrow.

Just like everyone else, I expect to see a different team tomorrow.
U.S. over Italy, 3-2.

posted by El Jefe @ 7:17 PM  2 comments


At 10:28 AM, Anonymous Hanson said...

USA!!!! USA!!!! USA!!!!

At 8:00 PM, Blogger nach said...

Too bad the refs ruined what had started as a great game--for both sides. GAH! The US has displayed a terrible lack of finishing touch--no goals in two matches is sucky soccer, no matter the situation.


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