Friday, May 26, 2006

US 2-0 Venezuela

The US final got the result they have been looking for. It was not a perfect match, but it did show progress. They were making good runs, spreading the game across the field and actually taking shots.

Still, there were things about which to be concerned. Their defense let a few too many balls through and there were way too many loose balls left unanswered in the Venezuela box. If they do not do a better job of closing holes in the back, they will pay for it in Germany. On the other end, you are only going to get a few chances at goal in the cup. If you let any of them go, you are doing you best to beat yourself.

They showed some real progress tonight, but they still have a way to go before they are ready for the Czechs.

Some players I thought looked very good were Brian Ching, Ben Olsen, Carlos Bocanegra, Bobby Convey and Oguchi Onyewu.

Ching was going for everything, Olsen was winning balls and drawing fouls, Bocanegra and Convey were serving things up and Onyewu kept stopping attacks and clearing balls.

On the other end of the spectrum were Eddie Johnson and Tim Howard. I won't say they had horrible nights, but they did not impress.

Johnson was not able to break into the box or out hustle his defenders. If it weren’t for his wonderful cross to Clint Dempsey for the 69th minute goal, his performance would have been completely forgettable. He just doesn't seem willing or able to turn on the speed and fight for balls. Tonight it was Johnson, not Ching that made you wonder why he was on the roster.

For Howard, he looked rough through out most of the match. He was able to make a big save on the free kick, and any match that you have a big save cannot be a horrible match, but otherwise, he just seemed a little scattered. Maybe I've been spoiled by the way Keller protects the net, but Howard looked problematic. That said, he was not really tested much to confirm one way or the other.

Finally, talk about a card happy ref. It seemed like every time a player hit the ground, a card was in the air. And that second yellow on Bocanegra was laughable.

Great job of creating a fantastic environment by the 29,000 fans in Cleveland. I wonder what the total would have been if it had not rained at all over the last 24-hours? Next up, Latvia on Sunday at 7pm ET from East Hartford, Conn. (buy tickets here.).



Anonymous john said...

Good comments, the only disagreement I have is with Olsen. I thought he looked pretty crappy tonight.

11:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not related to the friendly, but as a soccer fan, you might find this funny.

1:41 AM  
Anonymous Susan said...

Good comments, Mike. Ching and Convey were pleasant surprises, Convey only because I hadn't seen him play before. We'll get to see him in the EPL next season, though.
As far as Tim Howard goes, I'm surprised that he made the team instead of Brad Friedel. Friedel had a terrific year with Blackburn, while Tim hardly played with Man U. (Some other story there that I don't know about with Fridel)? What is more worrisome to me than the defense is the lack of goal scoring and I say this after watching the Latvia game. We had plenty of opportunities to score in the last two friendlies (esp. from Johnson against Latvia). You're right that we won't get chances like that in Germany. A goal against the Italy's lockdown defense would be a miracle worth praying for. ;)

9:16 AM  

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