Friday, February 10, 2006

US v Japan; MLS vs J League

Tonight marks the first big test of 2006 for the US, but can also be seen as a fight between two domestic leagues.

Just as the US team will be made up almost totally of MLS players, Japanese coach Zico has brought mostly J-League stars on this trip. These two leagues started just three years apart (MLS '96, J-League '93) and both are just now starting to be viewed as emerging leagues by the soccer elite.

However, the big difference is whom they looked to for inspiration. When the J-League started, they brought in as many Brazilians has they could find (Zico is a Brazilian) to get their league going. For the MLS, they turned to Europe. This has lead to two very different styles of play.

Tonight, we will get a glimpse into which league has made the most with what they have.

For the US, all eyes will be watching Twellman to see if he can play even half as well as he did against Norway. This is Taylor's moment. If he can make things happen in this outing, he might just move from on to into the World Cup bubble.

This match might also witness Eddie Johnson's return to form. Hopefully he will be able to put all his injuries behind him and make some great chances happen. If Eddie doesn't earn some solid minutes tonight, Arena might start looking around. I still think Johnson's odds of making it to Germany are very much in his favor, but every game that goes by without him being healthy weakens those odds, even if just a little.

I am most excited about watching Clint Dempsey. He was great against Norway. I have this feeling that tomorrow's stories might just focus on him. Call it a hunch.

As far as Japan, striker Tatsuhiko Kubo is fighting back from various injuries to prove that his career is not over. Look for him to try and catch some defenders of guard by the speed that he still possesses. Also watch out for their young striker Tatsuya Tanaka. He was strong during the Asian Cup last year.

America's big test will come from Japan's backline of Alessandro Santos, team captain Tsuneyasu Miyamoto, and Akira Kaji. They work well as a unit and can throw off the midfield's timing.

All and all, it should be fun to watch, even if it is being played in a baseball stadium. One good thing about the stadium, it gave Donovan a great line. When asked who would get Barry Bonds’ recliner in the Giants’ locker room, Landon said, “Me. I’m just not touching his medicine cabinet.”

USA vs Japan
11pm EST (8pm PST)


Blogger Arti Honrao said...

Just droppin in to say HI!


2:23 PM  

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