Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A tie is a loss

Alright, well, technically it's not. But the U.S. could not beat Cuba on Tuesday, so for it to be seen as anything but a disappointing result is not realistic.

The U.S. tied Cuba 1-1 and the teams split a pair of points. Up next for the U.S. is Panama, who fell 1-0 to Honduras on Tuesday.

I don't know if the U.S. underachieved or if the expectations were way too high. Everywhere you read, you were thrown such facts as "10 of the 20 players have played for the full national team" and "five players ply their trade in Europe" and "such future full national team stars such as Freddy Adu and Jozy Altidore head the roster" and the like. Hell, I was guilty of it too, touting players like Adu, Altidore, Sacha Kljestan and Maurice Edu.

And yet that experience and that talent was canceled out by the Cubans' collective efforts. Try as they might to spoil their own plans, Cuba refused the hosts to walk away with the point. Cuba went down to 10 men for the final minutes of the match but even that was no advantage for the U.S., whose collective touch in the final third of the field was terrible at best.

Still, there is little time for the players to feel sorry for themselves. Panama is up next, but the opponent does not matter. The U.S. needs to come out with a strong effort. If Panama comes out stronger and goes up a goal on the U.S., the Olympics might be over for this squad before they even started. Already, the U.S. finds themselves in an uncomfortable spot with little wiggle room. Another terrible night of finishing and this squad could be finished.


Anonymous said...


Joseph D'Hippolito said...

I have to wonder how well the U.S. was prepared mentally to play against Cuba, the weakest team in this group. When he coached D.C. United, Nowak never would have allowed his players to become overconfident or complacent. Then again, Nowak was dealing mostly with tough, experienced pros in D.C. I don't care now many Adus, Kljestans, etc. are on the roster or play in Europe; top U-23 players aren't going to be as focused as veterans like Ryan Nelsen, Ben Olsen, Jaime Moreno and the like were.

BTW, who was the genius in the federation responsible for not scheduling friendlies for the U-23s, even on an exhibition basis at one of the Home Depot Center's auxiliary fields?

Anonymous said...

As I stated in my "olympic roster" post, this team has no linking mid-fielders (Sacha tried but there is a reason Feilhaber started in front of him at the youth world cup)and would rely on Adu and Jozy. Now who thinks leaving Feilhaber off was justified. I dont recall a single central midfielder making a thru run or giving a precision thru ball to the forward with a real scoring chance, other then Adu (but isn't he supposed to be the one scoring?), during the whole game. Everything was direct and long or from the outside in, way too easy to defend even for Cuba. They were "prepared" for European football and it wont work with American Soccer athletes.

papa bear said...

terrible finishing. S**t tactics (4-5-1 to bust a bunkerball team, really? C'mon, Nowak. 4-3-3 or 3-4-3 is what you go with against these teams. 3-5-2 at worst)
Davies is a despicable diver and needs to go. He simply stunk.
Nowak allowed the team to devolve into Brit-ball in the second part of the first half and that spelled our death.
Despite our poor finishing, there was no reason we shouldn't have had at least double the chances on goal.

@anon 9:53pm
at least our team scored a goal (not own goals only)

L.B. said...

actually, papa bear, I believe the first post came from someone in Canada... at least that's what I was able to piece together from the stats...

just another one of you said...

Something should be said about how well Adu played despite his Coach's best efforts to fuck everything up.

Also, let's be realistic, all the US has to do is end up second in this round. As was pointed out in this blog already, even if the US blew threw these first three games and scored 38 goals they would still have a one-off elimination game in the semifinal. So cool it people, there are still 2 games to be played and the US can probably tie and win the next two and still make it through.

I expect Alvarez will be back as soon as that mystery injury is settled.

artnsue said...

Players that stepped up:
Adu, McCarty (what a battler and hustler, never stopped running, won most 50:50 balls, and some decent forward transition passing), Kljestan (game changed a lot with him on, he should have replaced Edu).

Players that stepped down:
Altidore, Davies, Edu (what happened? Appeared that he did not want to run hard and several times he was walking or would position himself too close to McCarty and be in the way of a transition and the flow)

Robbie Findley needs to work on first touch skills....

US needs to stick to 4-4-2

Anonymous said...

SUre USA was the better team, but I wonder why Findley was playing over Zizzo aswell as Hill over Spector in the rb spot....

Cuba looked decent, for cuba, and if not for Linares getting that second yellow I would think they are the second best team in our group.

Honduras and panama looked terrible

L.B. said...

Neither Zizzo nor Spector were available. The infusion of those two in the starting lineup would probably do the team well but they should have been able to get through this stage just fine without them.

Anonymous said...

The team needs to gel. It looks very talented but rough around the edges and rusty. I worry when coaches are searching for chemistry DURING a tournament.

Cuba played extremely well, my hats off to them. For a team with miniscule: resources, exposure, budget, coaching and lack of family money for cool camps...well they played awesome. Maybe we pamper our kids too much.

I am calling out the Tampa Bay Area. Terrible turnout and support!
Why does CONCACAF and US-Soccer keep putting these games in all the wrong cities.

Anonymous said...

Too add to my above post.

I was impressed with the speed and technical abilities of Cuba, Panama and Honduras. Concacaf gets a bad wrap sometimes, but it looks like there won't be any easy games in that group.

If you look at the other group, surely there will be some battles, but the US' group looks really well balanced.

I can see some tie-breaker rules coming into play...so the US better start scoring some goals very soon!


argaen said...

Credit to Cuba, sure. But the reason they were in that game is because Nowak is an f'ing awful coach in the Bradley mold. We will never win anything or play the right way if we keep these crap coaches around.

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