Thursday, June 22, 2006

WC: Worst of All Possible Worlds

Led me start off by saying that I don't think the U.S. deserved to advance. Even if we got the results we probably deserved in the last two matches, (win, draw) we finish third and the I.T.'s and Ghanians still advance. That said, I'm frustrated. The main reason is that not only did we not advance, we did so in such a fashion that might impede a good hard look at what we need to do to get better. We feel, justifiably, aggrieved by some of the breaks we got, from the ludicrously strong group (4 of the top 17 teams, I'd say. Any of the four teams would have probably advanced if they were in one of 5 or 6 of the other groups) to the Uruguayan twit to Pimpong's Penalty (overheard at the bar: girl to boyfriend "I'm never playing ping-pong again." "Baby, it's PiMpong. And yeah, me neither.") There was also some question about the first Ghana goal - I don't think it was a foul and I don't think it should be called. But in that situation (last man getting stripped), I'd say it gets called at least 4 out of 5 times.

That said, our largely legit grievances will probably be allowed to obscure that fact that, goalkeeping aside, we're just not good enough. Donovan might win the 2006 Nakata Award for overrated 'star.' Beasley seems just hopeless, and Eddie Johnson demonstrated why he has been on the bench for most of the cup: he's not very good. There are some positves to take - McBride is useful, though probably too old to be around for much longer. After a nightmare against the Czechs, Onyewu has looked quite good - I can't blame him for the penalty because the call was astoudingly bad - a 5'4" guy was going to leap backwards, through Gooch and power a header in from 20 yards? Shennanigans. If he does move to England, it will only help him learn how to use his strength without fouling against crafty, floppy types. Dempsey has been a revelation, he should be the first name on the teamsheet, our most dangerous player by a mile over the last two games, and a thumping finish for our one real goal of the tourney.

Arena has demonstrated that he is overmatched as well. It's simply criminal to start in a 4-5-1 in a game that you not only have to win, but possibly have to win by a lot. Coaches have a shelf life, and he's probably passed his sell-by date. There's a reason that national team coaches don't last long, and I don't think it's too much of a surprise that the only two teams with the same manager as 2002 (us and England) have visibily underperformed.

I think this Deadspin commenter captures it perfectly:
I am just so upset right now. I'm upset at the ref. I'm upset at Donovan. I'm upset at Beasley. I'm upset at Arena. I'm annoyed at the Ghana people rolling around on the field to waste time.

mostly, I'm frustrated that this means four more years of soccer haters making nyah-nyah noises at all of us for caring.

Oh, and after the Ghanians demonstrated that they've learned a few of the 'finer' points of football from the Italians, I fully endorse this as well:
I hope Brazil goes Spurrier on these guys in the 2nd round and win 11-0.


slickdpdx said...

You made me care and then you broke my heart. Shame on you!

Al said...

Oh come on. Ghana was absolutely right to waste time. That's not bad sportsmanship; it's the way the game is played.

Don't take out your anger at our side on the Ghanians. They played better over the three games - by far - and deserved to go through.

Pooh said...

Al, time wasting is fine. Take a few seconds on free kicks, run to the corner flag, etc. The injury fakery is the crap that drives me nuts. Yes, on the balance of three games they were absolutely the 2nd best team in the group, so I don't begrudge them for going through. However, they were particularly egregious in the last 15 minutes, so I hope they get stuffed by an apparently rejuvenated Brazil.

Al said...

Dunno - just can't agree. It's like a basketball team going into the four corners. If you don't want them to waste time, then don't let them have a lead at the end of the game.

I'm rooting for the Ghanians in the next round, even though without Essien they have zero chance. (BTW - howabout that hack referee booking Essien? What a joke.)