Thursday, June 22, 2006

U.S. Soccer Dreadful

I don't feel like issuing the book-length ripping that Team USA deserves, so we'll get right to the point and be as brief as possible.

#1) Bruce Arena deserves 90% of the blame for the atrocious performance thus far in the tournament. If your team walks on the pitch asleep, as the U.S. did for their first game against Czech Republic, it's the coach's fault, period - even after the coach blames the players (no class on the part of the coach).

#2) Another classless move by Coach Arena - calling out the 'manliness' of Beasley. That's just outrageous. Beasley's play was horrendous, no doubt, but that has nothing to do with a coach publicly challenging the manhood of one of his players - unless that coach wants to get his ass publicly beat by said player whose manliness he doubts.

#3) If your team's strikers are so fearful of the opposing team's goal that they regularly turn around at the sight of it (thus giving your team 1 shots on goal, total, for two entire matches - let's repeat that - 1 shots on goal, total, for two entire matches - combined, together, both games), the coach should think about, you know, coaching - and telling his strikers to take it to the hole or keep the bench warm for the entirety of the rest of their lives - their choice. If there are ten defenders in between you and the goal? That's an easy choice - take it to the hole. Go to goal. For the love of World Cup-watching Monks, take. it. to. the. hole.

#4) I've never seen a more intimidated team in my life. Not all the players, but most. If they don't soil themselves before they step onto the pitch vs. Ghana, I'll be amazed. Confidence is king.

#5) The match vs. Italy - when we held on for a 1-1 when we needed a win to advance - so what? I expected us to beat Italy, but instead coach Arena allowed the already-yellow-carded-once Eddie Pope stay in the game when it was obvious he was eventually going to get carded for his sloppy/tugging play against the ever-diving Italians. 'Horrible' + 'Brave' != 'Decent'. It equals horrific, devastatingly stupid, shameful. Mastroeni with two cleats up in the offensive half? Somebody tell me I'm just having a nightmare - this isn't real.

#6) Many of the players - only Donovan comes to mind at the present - should have been yanked from the first game. Exactly how long does it take to warm up? If you didn't want to play you should have stayed home and let some other kids play.

#7) Beasley was right for ripping on coach Arena for not telling the players what the expected lineup was going to be until hours or minutes before the match. That's horrific. How do you expect a player to get ready mentally and emotionally if they think they're going to be sitting on the bench instead of playing? It's outrageous.

#8) Coach Arena should have done more to solidify a starting squad earlier in the tournament. Yes, injuries hurt, of course, but every other team had to deal with injuries, too. In our first game we were completely lost, and we were at full strength.

#9) What is this stuff about players hanging out with their families and all that in-between games? Is that normal? I prefer the no-sex rules and all that. I don't know anything about marriage and families and being a professional sportsman, but I do wonder where these guys are at mentally. We're talking about 1 month away time, here, tops. If that's a sacrifice they have to make to play for the national team in the World Cup, then I'm prepared for them to make it. I have no idea if that would be beneficial or not, but it's something I'm very interested in.

For anyone who thinks my comments are too harsh, I apologize for not expecting the U.S. team to act like a bunch of amateurs out there. Their play has been disgraceful, as has their coaching. I expect more. I demand more.

Good luck to them tomorrow against Ghana. Hopefully, Team USA decides to play. Ghana is brimming with confidence, it seems, but we don't know if it's for real or not. One thing I'm still certain of is this - the U.S. team can be one of the best teams in this tournament. Individually we're not lacking, and team-wise we're not lacking. If we decide to show up tomorrow, Ghana is going to get the shock of a lifetime, as will the rest of the tournament.

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