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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

6/13 World Cup of Coffee

Some friends and I had a revelation yesterday when watching the US-Czech Republic massacre. If there ever was a need for a generous immigration policy, it's now...

Ugh. What can you say about the US performance? First, let's give credit to the Czech Republic. Pavel Nedved was crafty and formidable up and down the field. Tomas Rosicky scored two absolutely world-class goals, different in style but similar in quality. They defended well, though we helped them out. Now to dissect our performance: We stunk. The only player that one leaves feeling good about is Eddie Johnson. Surely he will start against Italy. But our defense was guilty of poor marking and clearance on all the goals. Keller's less at fault for the goals than for his ineffective goal kicks. The midfield got completely dominated. Our alleged star Landon Donovan was tame. We seemed to NEVER win a header in the box. Our crosses were poor. As for DeMarcus Beasley, Bruce Arena summed it up like this: "We got nothing out of Beasley on the night." The worst part about it was not showing the heart that Trinidad & Tobago, Angola, the Ivory Coast, Ghana, and even Costa Rica displayed in defeat.
There is now very little hope of going through to the second round after Italy's win over Ghana. The United States now needs six points and Italy hasn't lost in nearly two years. They defend better than the Czechs, they are more potent in attack than recent Italian teams, and are merciless at killing off a game once in the lead. So what do we do? I don't know. But I would begin by benching Beasley and starting Eddie Johnson up front. I'd think about Clint Dempsey coming in. And I'd tell Landon to assert himself or sit the pine by halftime. Post your ideas in the comment section.
As for the other matches, it was a great, deserved, comeback win by Australia, who were victimized by a goal that should not have counted in their 3-1 win against Japan. What a scintillating final 10 minutes for the Socceroos. Puts them in good shape to qualify but the Croatia match looms large. Ghana played much better than the US by all accounts but Italy showed why it could win the Cup. Now on to today's matches...

I'll pretty much watch any match I can. But as Clint Eastwood once said, a man's got to know his limitations. I'll be working during this match and that's OK. Nevertheless, I expect Korea to get the full three points here. Togo sadly has become the farce of the tournament with their player bonus controversy. Their coach resigns two days before the tournament...or is he now back? Has this team even practiced or are they still arguing over money? Their best player is a back-up striker for Arsenal. Korea will be better prepared, better coached, and ready to pressure France and Switzerland. Republic of Korea 2-0.

I've been really worried about France. Their preparations have not gone well. Veterans past their prime or out of form seemed to be getting preferential treatment. There was that goalie controversy. Cisse breaking his leg. But suddenly I feel better, because Raymond Domenech came to his senses and put young Franck Ribery in the starting lineup. As an Arsenal fan, I'm hoping Thierry Henry has a huge tournament. But the Swiss are very good and will not be afraid of the French. They drew them twice in qualifying. They have some very solid young players and have looked good in friendlies. This will be a very tight match. France 2-1.

Finally we get to see the rock stars of the tournament: Ronaldihno, Adriano, Robhino, Ronaldo, Kaka and the Gang. What else can be said: Brazil is loaded with talent, they have been to the last three WC finals (winning two), and strike fear into the hearts of opponents. Still, I think they are a little vulnerable at the back. But you have to get the ball from them (or from the back of your own net) to score. Croatia is a solid side who will give it a go and promise to attack. Plus they have cool jerseys. Brazil 3-1.

US Round-Up: Soccernet's An Uphill Struggle; SI's Putting Up Little Fight; Fox Soccer Channel's Looking for Answers

Brazil's President apologizes for calling Ronaldo fat during videoconference with the team.

A nation mourns the loss of The Robot.

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