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Football Ground >> Jamie Trecker review of USMNT


6/30/07 7:28 PM
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Edited: 30-Jun-07 07:31 PM
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Jamie Trecker Special to FoxSoccer.com, Updated 2 hours ago There was one hope for the young Americans Thursday in Maracaibo: No one expected them to beat Argentina, but fans did hope they wouldn't embarrass themselves. It was a tall order, and ultimately the USA failed. Argentina dismantled an inchoate American team 4-1 behind Lionel Messi and Hernan Crespo, blazing past the USA in the final half hour to turn what could have been a respectable loss into a rout. The bottom line is that the USA was outplayed and outworked by a squad that is simply better at every position. The result was not unexpected, but it showed up the foolhardiness of taking an inexperienced group to a major competition. It also demonstrated how shallow the pool of American talent truly is. The only holdovers from the Gold Cup final last Sunday here in Chicago were Jonathan Bornstein and Benny Feilhaber, and both men quickly found out how over their heads they were. Bornstein and fellow wingback Marvell Wynne were left in the dust on the flanks, forcing Jay DeMerit and Jimmy Conrad to do a lot of covering. In the final half-hour this would prove too much -- the final two Argentine goals, from Pablo Aimar and Carlos Tevez, came from exploiting the gaping holes opened in the gut of the American goalmouth. The game got off to a strange start. Eddie Johnson, breaking through on an outlet pass, was inexplicably felled in the box in the seventh minute by Gabriel Milito. Credit the young man as he held his composure to sink the penalty and give the USA an unexpected lead, wholly against the early run of play. Some American team boosters have argued that that this competition will help younger players, but it's difficult to see how anything can be learned in this situation. This is, after all, a team so unfamiliar with one another that for much of the first half, the USA seemed unclear on exactly who the midfield leader was to be, much less who was meant to mark whom. Case in point: On Crespo's first goal, Kasey Keller was caught out because the U.S. defenders made an elementary mistake. They allowed the free kick to bounce -- Bornstein flailed at it, and failed to clear it -- forcing Keller to come into no-man's land. There were few bright spots. As usual, the USA got hard work out of a number of players, but it too often amounted to nothing but effort. Effort, minus the requisite touch and technical expertise won't get the job done against any top-level opposition. Ben Olsen was everywhere, but sadly looked like a man trying to stop the sea with a pitchfork; to his credit he was the only bulwark this team had. The callow duo of Feilhaber and Justin Mapp seemed unfazed by the level of competition, but the tension showed harshly on the face of young Ricardo Clark, who exited the first half looking completely overwhelmed and exhausted. Keller did well to keep the score from running up any higher. He showed he still had some chops by making a fantastic save on Juan Sebastian Veron in the 43rd minute, but by the end he looked spent. And who wouldn't, on that field, on that night in that uniform? Sadly, the Americans are set to be thrown to the lions again. They must next face Paraguay, which earlier on Thursday blew open Group C with a 5-0 thrashing of an inept Colombian team. With Colombia now needing a result against Argentina to remain alive, a good showing on Monday could aid keep the Americans in the running, but with this slim side's "best" lineup unable to put a dent in Argentina, what chance do the bench-riders have? In addition, it has to be wondered if this is really a false opportunity for some of the young, fringe men on the team. After all, following this disaster, it'll be pretty easy to write off a Demerit or a Wynne, despite the inherent unfairness of their appraisal process. It may be cynical, but the idea also has crossed my mind is that the foray down South might also be a subtle way of showing some folks that those better-paying careers in Scandinavia and Holland don't mean much when it comes to the national team. What good is that paycheck, if this is the audition you get in return? It's a sad state of affairs, and much as it might pain fans, it's time to concede that Bruce Arena -- who has been scathing in his criticism of the Copa America fiasco -- is right. The USA should have taken a full team, or not gone at all. Arena learned that the hard way, on one cold March night in Germany, last year. It's a pity the rest of the higher-ups didn't get learn the same lesson.
6/30/07 9:49 PM
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Yougottawanna
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Edited: 30-Jun-07
Member Since: 09/21/2001
Posts: 22128
Why should we not have gone at all? What are we losing by going exactly? That's also too harsh. For one thing, Bornstein did better than that writer gives him credit for. He stayed in front of Messi enough that they switched Messi to the left. To hear this guy talk we were expected to beat Argentina. No we weren't, like he said they're better than us at every position, they're the best South American team right now. Bornstein and Feilhaber both played well, even Eddie Johnson looked better than usual. And we were competitive in the first half.
7/1/07 2:16 AM
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stinkman
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Edited: 01-Jul-07 02:21 AM
Member Since: 01/31/2007
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"Why should we not have gone at all? What are we losing by going exactly?" What do we lose showing up there undermanned? Credibility. The stigma that team USA only wins in North America and the only top team they can beat is Mexico is what is proven in the rest of the world's eyes. I totally agree with the writer, go strong or don't go at all. I doubt we will even be invited back after this. And to say who cares? It is just a South American tournament. That is crazy. It is not just any old South American tournament. It is a tournament where most/all of the South American teams are going full strength to win. It was a perfectly wasted opportunity to send a full squad and see how our US team stacked up against world class competition in a hostile environment. We don't have to expect to beat Argentina...just actually compete. The US played ok in the first half...but the way they were playing, it was inevitable they were going to give up some goals eventually. With almost no threat of an offense we were lucky it was not 5 or 6 goals against to be honest. Edit: spelling
7/2/07 1:07 PM
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Yougottawanna
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Edited: 02-Jul-07
Member Since: 09/21/2001
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"What do we lose showing up there undermanned? Credibility. " Like I said, we're losing nothing. The only thing we can hurt is our pride. Meanwhile we try out new players and everyone gets experience against high-caliber teams.
7/2/07 3:49 PM
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Edited: 02-Jul-07
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There's nothing wrong w/giving new players experience on the squad; how else are they supposed to get experience? However, in a tournament like this, it is hardly the place to throw these kids to the wolves and watch them get manhandled on the pitch. At the very least, Bradley could've split the more experienced players between the Gold Cup and the Copa America to play alongside the lesser experienced players. I've read posts all over the internet raving about how well we did for 65 minutes against Argentina. Have we forgotten that there are 90 minutes in a match? It isn't how well you perform for 65 minutes; it's how well you perform the entire match until the final whistle blows. The lads absolutely MUST play position. That is a fundamental part of the game that they are lacking, along with passing. If they can do that, manage to put plays together whether in attack, counterattack or set pieces, then their aggressive style of play will come to fruition. If not, then they'll continue to struggle in matches against better squads like Argentina, and basically survive off PK's.
7/2/07 4:04 PM
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Govnor
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Edited: 02-Jul-07
Member Since: 01/01/2001
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They should have had their A Team their if all possible IMO. Still, you need experience for the whole squad. Players get injured all the time and you need to have back ups that can step up.
7/2/07 6:39 PM
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stinkman
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Edited: 02-Jul-07
Member Since: 01/31/2007
Posts: 132
Guys with little or no experience did not need to be chastised by fire. I am all for them giving guys experience but to do it in a way that was embarrassing for the team was not needed. You don't put a new fighter in the ring with the world champ in his first fight to let him gain experience. He will get knocked out so fast he does not even get a chance to have learned anything. Copa America was a place to go all out and compete...World Cup qualifiers and friendlies are the place for the "youthful and inexperienced" on team USA to gain experience IMO.
7/2/07 6:58 PM
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grizz632
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Edited: 02-Jul-07
Member Since: 01/01/2001
Posts: 1639
Despite how horrible our region is, I'd rather they experiment with the squad in Copa America than in World Cup qualifying. Losing Copa America means nothing in the long run. Potentially missing out on the World Cup, no matter how unlikely it may be, would be devastating.

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