Wednesday, May 24, 2006

US 0-1 Morocco

At the beginning of ESPN2's broadcast, their opening segments kept getting interrupted by accidental flashes of various commercials. This kind of set the stage for last night's game as the US kept getting interrupted during all their offensive setups.

Their big problem, the team was not finishing. Morocco came in with a very defensive plan in mind and the US could not crack it. They started getting close towards the end, but were straining to hard and ended up giving up the game winner.

I'm not sure if it was nerves, over-training or fear of getting hurt, but the squad seemed distracted. They also seemed unable to create a one or two touch attack that is needed to throw a blanketing defense off balance. To Morocco's credit they did everything they could to slow down America's attack.

On the good side, John O'Brien got 45 minutes without getting injured, Landon Donovan showed some style (although he needs to be willing to take the shots), Eddie Pope looked strong and Pablo Mastroneni proved a good backup for Reyna.

There are some doom and gloomers out there pointing to this as proof that the US is over hyped and will not last long in the World Cup. As I noted, there are lots of things the team needs to improve, but a 1-0 defeat in a friendly does not mean the end is near.

The US should have won the game. Eddie Johnson's header should have been better. Wolff should have finished any one of his three good chances. Donovan should have taken a few more shots instead of trying to force the ball elsewhere in the box. Steve Cherundolo never should have turned the ball towards Bouchaib El Moubarki. But it didn't happen.

Now Arena knows more about the weaknesses of his team and he can adjust. If the side keeps making the same mistakes over the next two matches, then there might be some good reason for concern. However, the point of these matches is not to show what is right as much as it is to reveal what is wrong.

I must wonder what such people would be saying if the US had won. I'm guessing something suggesting that it's no big deal that they won because Morocco didn't even make it to Germany. Damn if you do, attacking article if you don't.

By the way, great job by Nashville. Getting over 26,000 people to a game on a Tuesday evening is a great showing.

Next up Venezuela on Friday night in Cleveland (tickets here) at 7pm ET.



Anonymous J. Michael said...

Good on Nashville. I'd love to see them get an MLS club.

Too bad for the loss, but as you say the match's purpose was to diagnose any problems.

I'm glad that Morocco played tough defense; we'll see more of the same in Germany.

11:23 AM  
Anonymous Susan said...

I have to agree with the rational way that you analyzed the game. Plus all the pressure was on the US--even though it was a friendly and its purpose was to expose weaknesses.

I'm curious what the atmosphere will be like Friday night in Cleveland (I'll be there). I wish they could play in a nice little stadium like Nashville's, but it's where the Browns play. I just hope it doesn't feel too lonely.

11:56 AM  
Blogger Mike H said...

J - I too was happy to see a tough defense. We need to know how to beat teams that put 9-10 guys behind the ball.

Susan - It will be interesting to see how many folks turn out and how they react as I'm sure MLS is watching. Enjoy the game.

2:29 PM  
Blogger Nick and Dan said...

I was a bit of doom and gloom with the analysis at my blog, but it was more "because I care" sort of ribbing. Good write up.

P.S. Should've checked your mid-week MLS call earlier today.. I totally forgot about the game tonight. Missed soccer on! Darn!

8:54 PM  

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