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Post-World Cup Thoughts

June 23, 2006
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\”Despite all calls, all the circumstances over all three games and what have you, we weren\’t good enough.\” – Bruce Arena, June 23rd 2006.

I think this just about sums up the World Cup for the US this time around. Lots of people want to talk about the refereeing – that Jorge Larrionda should never work a World Cup game again, that Marcus Merk was an embarassment, etc. I\’m not going to defend them, but I do think its a sad state of affairs that we know the referees names and treat them as the reason we\’re going home.

Merk didn\’t send a free kick a mile over the cross bar with the game on the line. Larrionda didn\’t prevent us from taking a shot on goal. They did their job – and we didn\’t do ours. Any team that manages only 4 shots on goal over 3 games, scoring once, doesn\’t have to look any further than the mirror for the reason they\’re going home.

Speaking of offense, many people have said this and I\’ll add my voice to the chorus: the play of Landon Donovan and DaMarcus Beasley was a disappointment in this World Cup. They were supposed to play a central role in our success this time around, and instead I think they played a central role in our failure. They weren\’t the sole reason, but they didn\’t seem to have the force of will to propel the team forward when we needed that spark. Grant Wahl hit the nail on the head IMHO when he described the three key plays against Ghana that showed Donovan\’s lack of (positive) impact.

Of course, Arena\’s decision to play Donovan as a forward – instead of Johnson, Wolff, or even Ching – didn\’t help. I love McBride, so I have a blind spot to his failures, but I can\’t bring myself to pin the lack of scoring on him so much as the team around him. I feel bad for Bake, because the odds are against him being on the team that hopefully qualifies for South Africa. Not to be too cynical, but I kind of hope we don\’t need him in 2010 – how old is he going to be? I keep meaning to look at our forward pool to figure out who might be an option in 4 years – I have to think that Twellman and Johnson will feature prominently, but 4 years ago the thought of Johnson and Ching – instead of Razov and Mathis – would have sounded crazy.

Random thoughts:

  • I can\’t wait to see what Onyewu does in the next 4 years, and can\’t wait to see how the introduction of players like Marshall goes. Not to mention the battle for the goalkeeper spot if Keller retires as expected. Personally, I\’m hoping for Hahnemann (The Lump seems to be doing alright for himself :-)).
  • I fully expect Arena to move on after this World Cup. Of course, I thought he would be gone regardless of how he did. With our first round exit, maybe the decision will be mutual. As for who to replace him, I\’ve heard fans throw out names from Juergen Klinsmann to Guus Hiddink to Phil Scolari. Of those three, I can really only see Klinsmann as a realistic option. Carlos Quiroz (sp?) was mentioned by Tommy Smyth immediately after the Ghana game, but I hope that doesn\’t happen. Part of me wonders whether we could tempt Frank Yallop to take the job, or if Bob Bradley might be interested.
  • At least now we\’ve gained a point on European soil. And against the Italians, too. I sincerely hope that US Soccer will play more games in Europe (and in Africa, and in South America) in the next 4 years, so that 1 point can become 4-6 the next time around.

I\’ll post more as I get my brain organized.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Jamie permalink
    June 25, 2006 6:25 pm

    I posted my own thoughts in a post on my own blog. Some of the blame does go to these players, for sure – particularly Landon and Beas, as you pointed out. But I have to go back to my criticism of U.S. Soccer as a whole…. well, just read my post. 🙂

    http://blog.360.yahoo.com/blog-wPK260c7faP6IjZUn_4vQpQ-?cq=1&p=202

  2. Thierry Henraldinho permalink
    July 1, 2006 4:46 am

    That’s a good point about playing more friendlies in Europe. Australia did this with much success, though I think most of their starters were already playing in Europe.

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