Sunday, March 23, 2008

For the title

The U.S. and Honduras are battling it out for the title in Olympics qualifying. It's mostly a prestige thing now, since both teams have qualified. Honduras hasn't gotten a shot on goal, but has held off the U.S. all game long. The match is now in overtime.
10th minute of overtime: Gaven is down in the box. It looks like it should be a PK, but nothing given.
13th: GOAL! Marvell Wynne gets called for a foul. Honduras sets up, gets the ball into Georgie Welcome, who gets a bit of space and smashes the ball past Dominic Cervi. It bounces off the crossbar and in. 1-0.
15th. I started blogging mostly because I expected this to go to penalties, and I wanted to analyze the U.S. strategy in such a situation, but Honduras now holds the lead. Michael Orozco and Pat Ianni were both beaten on the play that led to the goal.
2nd overtime period. CK for the U.S. comes to nothing. Kamani Hill was cramping, but he's back up now.
19th - CK for U.S. comes to nothing. The Honduran fans are thrilled and noisy.
20 - The U.S. is no doubt frustrated, because they pushed the pace of the game and created the vast majority of chances, but that's no excuse for not executing.
22- Gaven helps earn another CK, but the U.S. does nothing with this one as well.
23 - Another CK for the U.S. Nothing working for the U.S. in that regard.
24- Jozy bike in the box - he misses the ball. The U.S. players are tired; their passes are going awry, but they keep pushing. That deserves credit.
25 - The U.S. is missing key players who were released once the team qualified. Freddy Adu, Sal Zizzo, Charlie Davies and Jonathan Spector have gone back to their teams in Europe.
28 - Honduras playing the same smart, not-pretty defense that simply works.
29 - Wynne gets booked for a yellow. He walks away from a writhing Welcome and snaps at his old UCLA teammate, Ianni, when Ianni says something to him after the card is given.
30 - Now Ianni gets called for the foul on Welcome, as he throws out all his limbs while going down.
Final whistle. The U.S. is resigned - the Honduran players celebrate with their fans. Honduras is the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying champ. This might be the beginning of a renaissance for Honduran soccer, which had slumped for a bit. The U.S., meanwhile, learns a lesson in wasted opportunities.


Gabriel in Argentina said...

You know..this result does not bother me so much..we pressed the attack and failed in our chances..but that you said they are qualified so in the end that matters..Congrats to Honduras for winning the tournament..Hey did you see that Edu, Adu,Orozco and McCarty made the starting 11 for the all Tournament team?

Anonymous said...

Kljestan was frustrating to watch. He is a relatively poor passer who lacks creativity and imagination; his lacklustre performance throughout the tournament makes me hope that Novak selects Feilhaber as his replacement when the team goes to Beijing. Also, Gaven and Barrett do not belong on the field, especially when guys like Arturo Alvarez & Robbie Rogers are viable options for the Olympic team. On the other hand, Maurice Edu's performance in today's match was stellar; it was a thing of great beauty to watch him control the midfield throughout the game.

Anonymous said...

The USA learned that without Freddy they can't score. Nothing new was learned in this game.

Anonymous said...

I think the US learned in this tournament that even with Freddy we still can't score very much.

Gabriel in Argentina said...

Kljestan made honorable mention for the apparently you are in the minority..I thought he played ok to well..Kljestan is a lock for China..Gaven played well..and Barrett didnt score but worked hard..gaven goes..barrett..maybe not..

Anonymous said...

hi gabriel in argentina,

[I posted the comments regarding Sacha K.]

I do respect your opinion, but still have fundamental disagreement with it.

I may very well be in the minority when it comes to Kljestan's performance at the tournament, but it is far from a small minority who share my opinion (e.g. see the user responses at Ives Galarcep's running commentary on the game).

Sadly, to be an honorable mention in a CONCACAF tournament (where some of the region's best players did not participate) isn't necessarily the highest endorsement of one's skills on the field, lest one thinks Honduras, Cuba, Guatemala, and Haiti are the football centers of the world. [In other words, many players on other CONCACAF national teams were just as poor in their passing skills.]

Despite my criticism, I don't hate Sacha. In fact, my favorite MLS team is Chivas USA largely because they do such a good job of passing and maintaining possession. Kljestan is a good MLS player, but he just doesn't seem to be able to translate his skills very well to the international level.

At this stage, I would like to see someone like an injury-free Lee Nguyen get a chance on the U-23 national team instead of Sacha. Nguyen may not be the fastest footballer, but he definitely shows much more creativity & flair than Kljestan.

best wishes,