Monday, July 2, 2007

So close

The end is near for the young Americans but unlike the match against Argentina the U.S. showed a lot and deserved better.

The U.S. had a multitude of chances from the start but capitalized on only one. Ricardo Clark finished off a nifty play that started from the right flank as Drew Moor whipped a cross inside the area, which Taylor Twellman then fed to Clark, who buried into the back of the net. The goal offset an earlier strike from Edgar Barreto.

But the Americans had so many more chances. Sacha Kljestan pushed an open header wide early on that in some ways set the tone for the missed opportunities. Eddie Johnson couldn't get his foot to a pass from Drew Moor after Johnson had raced past a pair of Paraguayan defenders inside the area.

In the second half, the U.S. failed to put away a shot even after starting goalkeeper Justo Villar was replaced by Aldo Bobadilla. Moor had the worst miss of the night as he was completely alone in front of the goal but sent a header right to Bobadilla.

Clark nearly scored again when he smoked a rocket on goal but Bobadilla did well to dive and push it out of bounds.

Still, Paraguay took advantage of a mistake early on in the second half and bagged a late free kick to make the match appear more one-sided than it was.

The U.S. can feel proud that they went down swinging but in the end it's another bad result. Two losses from two Copa America games cannot be spun any other way. Yes, the players gain valuable experience from participating in this tournament and facing players like Messi, Riquelme and Roque Santa Cruz but the U.S. should be past the point of using tournaments like this to test players.

The U.S. was faced with a difficult situation in selecting a roster for this tournament but once the roster was set and the players selected for the matches, there's no point in second-guessing. The results are what speak volumes now, and the U.S. has not gained anything in two games.

As far as their chances of advancing, they are difficult to say the least. First, the U.S. needs a win over Colombia. That is of the utmost importance, but that is also obvious.

The best the US can do is finish in third place and not be the worst third-place team.

In Group A, Venezuela is already through. Peru and Uruguay are each on three points, but Uruguay is at a minus-two goal differential. Venezuela needs to beat Uruguay, preferably by two more goals, and Peru needs to beat or tie Bolivia. If that happens, Uruguay would be in third place with three points and at least a minus three goal differential (if Venezuela wins by one goal).

In Group B, Mexico has six while Brazil and Chile each have three. Mexico can help out the U.S. by whipping Chile, who have a minus-one goal differential. Brazil plays Ecuador but Chile is likely to finish third unless they win. If Chile and Brazil each win, three teams would have six points from that group and that third place team would be the best third place team.


Anonymous said...

With this team, could it really have gone the other way?
If BB had actual power in decision-making, he would picked amore competitive team. This team looke lost at times. Not the most inspired efforts, either.
We are starting to look foolish. We have just deestroyed any buzz we earned during the gold Cup.

degerron said...

"the U.S. should be past the point of using tournaments like this to test players."

I think that was part of my point when I posted about the squad selection a couple of weeks ago. How dare the US come into Copa America with the idea that we are going to use it to develop our players. MLS always wants to win over Latin fans well this would have been the perfect place to do. Instead of US Soccer coming to this with the attitude that it wanted to win this thing it copped out by saying getting to the Confederation Cup was more important as it provide the all important "dry run to the 2010 World Cup" My pizzia owner Vito laughed at such thinking saying we are concentrating on the wrong thing. If the Confed Cup is your dry run then it means that you have decided your cup squard a year in advance thats a mistake in itself but also the idea of being familiar with South Africa is not necessary. US players need to be more battled tested in competitive matches. US players need more matches overseas and need to learn how to win overseas in competitive matches. We know most Euro players either couldn't get release for this match or couldn't risk loosing their spot on their first team. But our MLS guys could have used Copa America to test themselves against the best. The Gold Cup just doesn't provide enough of a challenge for our seasoned players anymore. The US and MLS should have a mentiality by now that says that anything the US enters we come to win not show up and hope we make the quater finals.

Bradley's decisions for the first game were just puzzling to say the least. Bradley had said that he brought Davis, Sasha K, and Nguyen into the camp leading into the China friendly to get them use to the system. Instead of any of them seeing the field against Argentina he puts in 3 guys with only 3 days of exposure with the national team. Gomez must have been in shock running around out there. And same goes for Wynne. Gaven should have never seen the field. With those kinds of decisions I wonder if he was even trying to win at all or just trying to go home early?

As for the Paraguay game. The team played much better and it was sad to see them give up that 2nd goal (which Telefutra barely showed!). I don't understand Bradley not subing any forwards on down 2-1. I think both Twellman and EJ showed that they both can't get the job done at this level and have had enough chances. Though Twellman played hard he only had one shot on goal in tonight's game and barely saw the ball at all other then that assist to Clark.

Though our young players can use this experience to see where they need to improve their games. The likes of Donovan, Beasley, Ching, etc could have all used this experience. Do we really know how good the US is with its first choice players? Playing in the Gold Cup no longer provides that answer. Copa America would have provided a much clearer picture of where I team really stands.

Gene said...

I was really disappointed that the U.S. lost to Paraguay. Given the number of chances we created, it is almost criminal not to walk away with at least a point. But when you can not put away your chances, AND you make juvenile mistakes in the back (2nd goal, and even the free kick that led to 3d), you will get beat by quality teams.

I am also really disappointed with how the rosters were put together. The Copa America squad is the one that should have been sent to the Gold Cup. Our teams get so few chances to play against quality teams in meaningful games, that it was almost criminal not to send our best squad to Copa America.

Anonymous said...

i underestimated how much veteran experience matters sometimes. the US has done wellat times holding the ball descently but wow they can't finish. and did you see what happened in both games after Olsen left the field. i guess experience players do matter.

mosler said...

"the U.S. should be past the point of using tournaments like this to test players."

I certainly wish the US team were past that point, but I'm not clear on why you think they should be past it. Is there some common metric of soccer progress to judge that by?

It was made clear what types of rosters would be sent to each tournament and things have played out accordingly.

I simply don't see the harm here. Yes, as a US fan it's painful to watch. Boo hoo for me.

The only important issue for discussion: Is this experience helping or hurtng the young players out there? Based on what we've seen in 2 games, I think it's helping.

If you want to make an argument that because the scores are lopsided etc. it's damaging the confidence of the young players, then fine. I'd be interested to hear that perspective.

But most of what I'm reading focuses on the idea that US Soccer is 'looking foolish' and that people are ashamed to show up for their pick up matches because the other players are teasing them. Puh-lease.

Anonymous said...

I have no problem with what Bradley did bringing an inexperienced team to Copa America. Given the current state of US Soccer, the only international tournament that really matters is the World Cup. Therefore, the Copa means less than the Gold Cup, even though the teams are better in CONMEBOL, because the Gold Cup gets us an extra tournament right before the World Cup, and in the host country. Who cares about how we look to the rest of the world? Who cares about "prestige" and all that nonsense. Some of you take losing by our national team too personally.

We are a young soccer nation, and the fact is we don't always know who our best players are, because by and large our national scouting system stinks. So any chance to get more players exposure to international play is fine by me. I won't lose sleep knowing we lost to Paraguay and Argentina with this squad, I just wanted to see some new talent emerge for the WC preparations, and I think that we saw some.

Anonymous said...

When did Keller became our slowest off the line Keeper? Must be that I have no contract thus I am on vacation and don't want to hurt myself in a challenge. For him to say that it is not worth it for him to play in the MLS because the league just isn't top of the line yet.....well, Kasey, it seems you couldn't handle being keeper for our MLS National team. Time to retire. Anyway, I thought this was Guzan's tournament? I am sure he would've busted ass and came out and challenged for the first 2 goals and most likely stopped both.

Anonymous said...

yes Keller did look very slow, the same thought ran through ny head that Guzan may have stopped those

degerron said...

I don't drink the kool aid about Gold Cup being more important then the Copa America. As it feeds into the Confederation Cup being a good dry run to the world cup. As if being familiar with a few stadiums in South Africa is going to score us more goals during the real thing. We played two games in Germany before the 06 World Cup and we came away with only a point from last year. I subscribe to the idea that you bring the best players available and that you go out on the field to conquer all. You enter competitions to win them not to use them as glorified training sessions. If we wanted to develop the guys on the Copa America roster then we could have used them in all those friendlies we had earlier this year. Or let their club teams develop those guys into good players. Copa America is a big trophy to win its the whole point of national team soccer prestige and trophies not dry runs and development. We could push the first choice players to push themselves against quality teams in Copa America and the Confed Cup. Instead we are left not knowing how good the USMNT is. I just subscribe to the attitude that we come to win. If you are not trying to win then why show up? The US and MLS are always sreaming about how the quality of soccer in the US is so high. Well Copa America was the second best place to prove it, to prove that the US can actually beat big quality teams outside the US. Why wait till 09 when you can start trying right now? Instead we approach the competition saying well this really didn't matter to us. We will not get any closer to competiting for a World Cup with such low bar thinking. As for the players I don't think they can be as motivated as they could have been once they knew they were going to Copa America as a development squad.

Gene said...

I personally have no problem with the possibility (and eventuality) that we get a beatdown by better South American teams. I think the young players did learn something. I suspect Bradley did, too (in terms of who he can and cannot count on).

I just wish we had one or two more vets up front and in the back - we probably could have gotten at least a point from the Paraguay game.

degerron said...

I think all trophies are worth winning. Though the World Cup is the most important it is not the only trophy out there. I don't mind using the competition for development as long as our intent is to try to win the whole thing not that we can but at try. Bradley's goal was to hopefully make it to the 2nd round.

We still don't know who can actually play on this level and who can't because in the end they only had three days together before the tournament. I can't say if we really know who can play internationally and who can't when it comes to the newbies because they were hardly prepared for their matches. As for the more experienced players I think Bradley knows who has had enough chances to prove themselves. And who he can call on again, thats a good thing.

But as I said before all trophies matter its the whole purpose of playing.