Wednesday, April 12, 2006

A stinker in Cary - US 1-1 Jamaica

There were good moments, but all and all, it was a bad outing for the US. However, before I even talk about America's team, I have to ask, what was up with Jamaica's goalie Donovan Ricketts?

That was the most bizarre performance I have ever witnessed by a keeper. Was he able to control any shots with his hands? He did come up with a few big saves, but over all, that was a bit of a freak show.

Yet, even with a goalie like Ricketts, the US could not beat Jamaica. Yes, the Reggae Boyz played some ugly soccer (how many times can players boot away a ball once it has gone out-of-bounce before the ref talks with them?), but the is no excuse for the show the US put on.

Our forwards were helpless, as the midfield could not deliver them the ball. And our defense was not ready for their speed. If it were not for the smart play by Landon Donovan, the US would have lost.

Donovan was a bright spot on the field, which is a good thing, as he has looked less then great over the last couple months. Chris Albright was better in the second half after switching sides with Frankie Hejduk and Clint Dempsey did bring some fire to his side when he stepped out he pitch, but even that fire was small.

John O'Brien should be pleased with his return. It was obvious that he was not fully recovered from injury, but he had some good touches and managed to bring some control to midfield.

Other then that, not much to praise.

So what happened to the MLS based team that looked so good when we last saw them two months ago? Bruce Arena has an idea.

"Unfortunately for us, our domestic players need a little bit more time before we can make a final determination. I'm not criticizing [MLS], but some of our guys have lost some of their fitness and sharpness since we last saw them in February."

That speaks to one of the biggest advantages teams with European based players have. The MLS has upped the quality of American soccer, but it is still far from the caliber of top European leagues. These top leagues require better play, but they also have better training facilities and programs. It says something that players have actually lost some of the game after leaving national camp to finish MLS training camp.

However, one person is happy with the night, Tony Meola (pictured). "Tonight for me was just a great night," said Meola after the game. "I did it with a great group of guys that really appreciated it - the first 99 as much as they appreciated tonight." He was not tested much, but he played well. Congratulations Tony.

The other winner is the city of Cary. A few fans might have arrived late, but they did not leave early. It was an excellent environment for a match and speaks well for the final US training camp before Germany. I just hope the many holes that showed themselves last night can be fixed before the team takes their trans-Atlantic trip.


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