Thursday, September 27, 2007

The worst of the worst

Okay, let's see. American soccer coaches have made some grand decisions at the World Cup before, both men and women. But they've also had some boneheaded moves before. So I wanted to see what the readers felt was the worst of the worst.

2007 WWC: Greg Ryan loses faith in his starting goalkeeper, Hope Solo. Having not allowed a goal in 300 minutes during the tournament, Ryan nevertheless pulled the plug on Solo in favor of an aging Briana Scurry. Brazil puts three past Scurry and, just for good measure, and American also gets one over the goal line. Brazil knocks the U.S. out with a commanding 4-0 semifinal win.

2006 World Cup: The USMNT had used the 4-5-1 in really just one important game under Bruce Arena before, and that ended up in a 2-1 loss. Throwing all the work and effort, all the progress and the development the team had had with the two-striker system out the windown, the U.S. took the field against the Czech Republic with a lone striker. It failed miserably as the Czechs looked like the pre-tournament powers many had feared. Ghana and Italy showed just how strong the Czechs were and the U.S. did not recover from its slow start.

1998 World Cup: Veteran players such as Alexi Lalas and Marcelo Balboa had formed the nucleus of the team during World Cup qualifying, when the U.S. pulled out some fantastic results. Lalas did not play one minute in the tournament while Balboa played eight as both were casualties of Sampson's doomed 3-6-1 formation. The U.S. team that went through qualifying and reached the Gold Cup final in 1998 was not allowed to take place as Sampson chose instead to plug in newcomers such as Chad Deering and Brian Maisonneuve into the mix. The U.S. lost all three games.


FC Uptown said...

All three coaches coached their teams right out of the tournament. Considering the US women were favored for the Gold this year, I would say today was the worse of that bunch. No expert ever picked the US Men to do much of anything in World Cup play. Congrats, Coach Ryan. Starting to wonder why you got up out of bed this morning?

A.C. said...

As I watch the ESPN broadcast of KC and LA, the announcers are ripping on Greg Ryan, including Eric Wynalda.

They're not even talking about the KC game any more. Consensus is that Ryan will be fired.

I wonder. It was a bad move, but he still has a better record than any U.S. women's coach in history, I believe.

Anonymous said...

pretty horrible decision coach ryan. maybe the mens team should go back and plug in my favorite player all time tab ramos.

FC Uptown said...

Ryan had years to prepare for that game AC, all the time in the world to get those players where he wanted them. And then he pulled that move, and the team comes out lackluster. Brazil is good, and the gap in talent has shrunk to nothing, but they are not 4-0 good. Brazil should have had to beat our best team, and dealt with Kai and Tarpley in the second half. USSF can keep him, but IMO he's done as much as he can do. If he loses Sunday, he's gone before the plane lands at LAX. There are plenty of programs he can coach and national teams that would like him.

JT (Chicago) said...

For me, it still has to be Sampson's '98 folly. Besides the players you mentioned, he left "Captain for Life" John Harkes off the squad completely. AND, he laid most of the weight of the team on the young shoulders of Claudio Reyna.

The US may have still gone 3 and out but he just ripped out the spine of his qualifying squad for unproven talent.

Siva said...

Regarding AC's comments:

This article about Greg Ryan's thinking got me nervous before the WC, and now the GK change... I must admit that I stopped watching USWNT after most of the "fab five" departed, and Wagner, one of their more creative players, has been increasingly ignored by Ryan. They are just boring to watch.

The only positive thing to say about Ryan was that he developed the pool of players very well, and brought into the WNT umbrella several young players.

Anonymous said...

Bruce Arena is a chump and lucky for him, his egotistical ways were only trumped by Greg Ryan, who takes the cake. He had to prove ego-point and over-coach at the worst possible time, and worse not fess up to this blatant gaffe. He did not win because he played favorites: see washed up Lilly and Scurry.

I think Sampson blew it big time but look at all the over-inflated egos on that 98 team, not only the players that were there but the players that were benched or left out. Wynalda, Lalas, Harkes. No wonder they imploded. Certainly it didn't help Sampson.

Matt said...

Scurry has had a great career, and doesn't deserve to be remembered for this one game.

That said, Ryan's move was inexcusable.