wherein DF travels to Deutschland for the 2006 world cup to follow the US men's national soccer team

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

US 0-1 Morocco

Some disjointed thoughts on the USMNT's first loss on home soil in four years (US 0:2 Netherlands, SOS for WC02).

--We didn't get outplayed so much as out-thought. Morocco had a game plan that underdogs everywhere employ: mass the D, absorb the attacks, and strike on the counter. It worked for them, just like it worked for Ali in Kinshasa. We got rope a dope'd.

--Credit to Maroc for executing their game plan well, including tenacious D and taking the chance that fell to them late. They played some nice, highly technical ball throughout that got us frustrated and ended up leaving us too tired to defend well at the end.

--At about minute 65, I noted that the second half was looking frantic. The US was playing fast and making some inroads, but was ultimately disorganized. The final ball just wasn't there. Flashbacks to the awful 2-3 loss to Hondo in WCQ 01, where Bruce famously compared the MNT to chickens with their heads cut off. Not quite that bad, but the lack of coherence in attack wasn't encouraging.

--The "step slow" award has to go to McBride. He kept mistiming headers, he couldn't get his shots on goal, and he gave the ball away when he needed to hold it. I'm concerned that his age combined with his grueling season with Fulham has left him too slow and tired for World Cup play; and Bruce is married to the idea of starting him at forward (not a terrible idea in the absence of compelling options).

--The other player who's expected to come up big but didn't impress was Gooch. He did a solid job on defense, but had nothing like the monster game he's capable of. Plus, he (along with McB) lost a Moroccan in the box to gift them the kind of chance that Jan Koller or Luca Toni or Michael Essien will definitely put away. And I wasn't thrilled that he clumsily fouled in the second half to set up a very dangerous FK--the kind that Del Piero or Nedved will score on a good percentage of the time.

--I was encouraged though by JOB. He played damn well, got into some defensive tackles without getting hurt (fingers crossed, as always), and had three or so genius passes (that our forwards kept missing, dammit). He's doing about as well as can be expected given his injuries.

--As far as second-half subs go, Convey as always provided spark, though he was sloppy with the ball at times. Dempsey did not impress, though he didn't really have that much time to get into the game. EJ didn't have much to work with EXCEPT a free header in the box that he has to put away. You can't leave that kind of chance on the table in the WC. That was our best opportunity and probably the most frustrating point of the game for me.

--The LD-led offensive buildup was pretty good, at times very good, but LD tends to get caught between passing and shooting much of the time when he should just do the latter. Several times there were too many passes in the box when I wish LD or whoever else would just have pulled the trigger. Dinking the ball around for the perfect opening always gives the opponent enough time to get back and kick it into touch.

--For all the talk about Reyna's injury as a horrible thing (though its scale is as yet unclear I think), did anyone think we got any weaker as a unit with Pablo in there? I don't think it looked like we were missing Claudio at all.

--All this said, I don't think the game was a disaster. It's clear we still have much to work on, especially offensively, but if it's merely coherence as a unit that we seek, that can come together in the next three weeks. A couple good results against Valenzuela and the Lats and we'll be right back on track.


Blogger mirarchi said...

Good stuff! I had to tape the game, and only managed to stay awake through the first twenty minutes when I finally was able to start watching it last night. I'll finish watching the rest of the game after work today. From what I saw, though, I agree with your analysis.

The U.S. has lost at home recently, though, the friendly against England played in Chicago sometime last summer.

12:20 PM, May 24, 2006

Blogger DF said...

The U.S. has lost at home recently, though, the friendly against England played in Chicago sometime last summer.

Bingo. Forgot about that one.

2:21 PM, May 24, 2006


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