Thursday, July 12, 2007

It Wasn't Pretty, But The US Are Through To The Last 8

Unites States 2-1 a.e.t. Uruguay {1-1}


If the Poland and Brasil matches were a showcase of the great technical football for the US under 20 team, last night was not. I wasn't able to give this match my full attnetion, as I watched the first half via Slingbox from my office and had some work distractions, and during the second half I had 2 TVs going but my main focus was on the Argentina-Mexico Copa America semifinal. That being said, here is what I did see even if it didn't have my undivided attention for 90 minutes.

A very different kind of game: scrappy, and let's face it, pretty disjointed and ugly. A tight 0-0 for most of the night, the biggest news for the US was that Altidore went off around halftime with what looked like a pretty serious leg injury. In the 73rd minute Uruguay went up 1-0 after a good buildup that was aided by the US goalkeeper spilling a shot right onto a dude's foot to tap in. It looked like he could have done better but such is life.

Just when you were starting to think that this team had done a Red Sox pre 2005 {gotten people all excited that they were going to break though, only to flame out in disappointing fashion}, the US knotted the match at 1 with only 3 minutes left when a good cross was turned into the net by a Uruguyan defender for an own goal. If he hadn't done that then the US striker would have had a tap in, and even in doing so he brought down the striker, so it would have been a penalty anyways, so not the lamest of own goals by any stretch.

The US got extremely lucky in the final moments of regulation when a great header from Uruguay beat the keeper bu not his best friend, the goalpost. On to extra time.

Some decent chances for both teams in extra time, but it looked like we might be headed to dreaded penalties when the US cobbled together a scrappy goal early in the 2nd extra time frame. They managed to hold on for 10 minutes and that was that. A scrappy and physical match that boiled over into a bit of handbags at the end.

So not another virtuoso performance, but they did what they needed to do and scrapped out a come from behind win, and many times winning those kind of matches does more for a team's development that winning beautifully and perfectly.

On to the quarterfinals where the US will play Austria, who overcame Gambia 2-1. Austria's 4 matches thusfar have been 1-1, 1-0, 0-0, and 2-1, which tells me not to expect a free flowing offensive beautiful game on Saturday. More likely it will a low scoring, tight, lockdown, scrappy match similar top last night. Also, Altidore's status for Saturday is uncertain, and although he is not the whole team it would be a significant loss if he was unable to play.

Spain 4-2 a.e.t Brasil {2-2}

I watched the nightcap match between Brasil and Spain which was a much better show for the neutrals- good end to end free flowing stuff and tons of chances for both teams. Brasil scored 2 in 2 minutes towards the end of the first half, but then crucially Spain got one back immediately and just before halftime, even if it was a little dubious. It sure looked like it went in off the striker's arm, but the referee was positioned in such a way that this was obscured from his vantage point, and there is one replay that makes it look like it went in off his thigh, which it may very well have. Either way, the goal stood and Spain went into the locker room with hope. The second half saw lots of action but no goals until Spain scored a nice equalizer with only 6 minutes left. On to extra time where Spain went ahead 3-2 near the end of the first extra period, then the game really opened up as Brasil desperately went forward trying to equalize, resulting in end to end action usually seen in the latter stages of a pickup basketball game when everyone is tired. Spain had 3 breakaways that were either 2 on 1 or 3 on 1, but each time the dude with the ball was selfish and tried to score a great goal on their own instead of passing to a teammate for a much easier goal. Then in the final minute the very dude who was forsaken by his teammates selfishness scored to make it 4-2, which was someone poetic justice for him. So Brasil completed their tournament of disappointment by blowing a 2-0 lead and losing 4-2, and in their 4 matches played they lost 3 outright, the first with a man advantage for 60+ minutes. Has ANY Brasilian team, at any level, produced a set of results to match these?

In the other late match the Czech Republic came from 0-2 down against Japan to get to 2-2, then beat Japan in a shootout.

Today's matches {all on Galavision I believe in addition to ESPN U}

Argentina-Poland 1.45 p.m. PST
Zambia-Nigeria 1.45 p.m. PST
Chile-Portugal 4.45 p.m. PST
Mexico-Congo 4.45 p.m. PST

Hoping to catch the Mexico match as I'm hoping to see my first glimpse of Arsenal youth player and supposed next sensation Carlos Vela.

Saturday's quarterfinals are:
Spain-Czech Republic


beast in 'bama said...

Didn't see the game, but very happy with the result. U.S. teams have faltered in this type of game in the past. They sure are ACTING like a team of destiny...

Aureliano said...

Congrats to the US for moving through. Not sure how yellow cards are being handled so I'm not sure if anyone is missing the next match (like Adu). They were probably wiped out so I think those guys will be ok. Want to see what Fiorentina striker Ferrari can do in Josey's absence.

As for Brazil, very bad results. But look at the games individually:
1.Poland - Poles had 1 shot on goal in the game, a marvelous free kick early in the game.
2.S.Korea - Brazil gets a 3-0 lead and dominate possession (had a stretch of 25+ passes in the 2nd half). Then SK scores in the 83 and all hell breaks loose for Brazil, and they barely win the game, with the Koreans getting another one in the 89th and should've scored an equalizer in injury time.
3.USA - Brazil actually played really well, and had a ton of chances. They just happened to play a US team that plays well as a team, put away their chances and was generally very sound. But I don't think they played bad. Again, Brazil got scored in the last 10 min I believe.
4.Spain - Spain were one of the favorites to win the whole thing, along with Brazil and Argentina. Yet Brazil had a 2-0 lead and were a dubious goal away from going into the half with that scoreline. The second Spain goal was nice, but didn't look like Brazil was setup. Either way, that was very late in the game (84th min I think). Spain had a nice one in OT, and Brazil played the rest of OT a man down.

So all in al they had their chances...its not like they absolutely crapped out. From watching their games, it was clear they missed some leadership and were very individualistic at times. Missing their captain Lucas (Liverpool signing) shortly before the tourney made a big difference. Also missing one of their best central defenders after the Korea game was big as well.
They do have some talent on that team with Jo and Pato and Lima and Lucas. Those 4 are going to be stars in the next level.

There you go. That's my Brazil rant.

Kanu said...

A- By no means was I implying that Brasil played horribly nor was I asking if a Brasil team had ever played that poorly; I agree with you there that they were a bounce here and there from doing very well. I was just talking about the results themselves- 3 losses in 4 matches. I don't ever remember a BRA team having such results that I can remember.

BIB- not sure about team of destiny, but in the end they did grind out a result. I think the semifinals would be considered a big success for this team, and anything beyond that would be gravy.

That Spain team is no joke, the US or anyone else would have their hands full with those guys.

beast in 'bama said...

Off the current topic, but did you see what Argentina did to Mexico in the Copa America semis? OMG!

I disagreed with your 'dream team' assessment of Argentina earlier - I was very impressed with Mexico and actually believed they were going to take them down. So much for that!

Kanu said...

yeah, saw it. Messi's 2nd goals was genius, and MExico were unlucky to hit th epost twice int he 1st hour.

Was hoping to blog about it today, but work...

I'll throw up thoughts & highlights tonight or early tomorrow.

That is a damn dream team, dude. When you consider all the world class talent on available on the bench, it's pretty damn stunning.

moin said...

The thing is, Argentina has been fielding a virtual dream team since 2002, position by position, that team was better than Brazil. Same with 2006. It was bound to happen, considering how much Argentina has been dominating the youth tournaments.

Michael said...

Did you watch the Mexico match? If so, can I get a review on Giovanni dos Santos?

I've fallen in love with this Argentina team at the Copa, by the way. They aren't just winning; they're winning with tremendous style. The last team I can remember winning a tournament (admittedly a tournament in which their chief rivals [Brazil and Mexico] have players resting) like this was:

Brazil '02 - An attractive side, but that whole tournament was devalued for me because of the wretched officiating that led to some unattractive late round games. If Brazil would have turned on the jets in the second half against England or done more than the bare minimum against Turkey, then maybe they would qualify.

France '00 - The France '98 side was too inept in front of goal to be really stylish, but the '00 side with Pires, Wiltord, and Henry all coming into their own, won the EC with a good deal of grace. The knock-out games against Spain, Portugal, and Italy were all exciting matches.

Netherlands '88 - A personal favorite of mine. It's hard to top van Basten's goals in the semi and the final. Such a talented team.

Admittedly, I don't know as much about the Copa Americas, so I can't really talk intelligently about those.

Kanu said...

Fucking work, damn.

Copa Semifinals recap/final preview and M- what little I was able to see of GDS10 coming this afternoon hopefully...