Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Got To Do Better

It' not quite time to panic.


After getting pounded by Germany 4-1 in its last World Cup warmup match, the U.S. sludged to a 1-1 tie with Jamaica last night. At home. While these games are only friendlies, the results certainly aren't inspiring much confidence with the World Cup less than two months away.

Granted, the U.S. was missing several key players, most notably Brian McBride, Claudio Reyna, and Demarcus Beasley. Thing is, in friendlies everyone is testing players and lineups, not to mention battling with clubs to have players released. It's not like Germany was at full speed last month, nor was Jamaica fielding its strongest team last night. That excuse only goes so far. I'm sorry, but a country currently ranked fith in the world (or sixth?) shouldn't be held to a draw at home by Jamaica.

Of course, the world rankings are absolute garbage, but still. For the love of Bruce Murray, beat Jamaica at home.

Once again, the U.S. defense was prone to being broken down like a Barry Bonds alibi. A mere four minutes in, Jamaica's Teafore Bennett made Frankie Hejduk look silly (which isn't difficult) and was sprung free on a break and finished. Which was a nice welcome back to Tony Meola, who was making his first appearance for the national team in four years to earn his 100th cap. Four minutes in and the goalkeeping legend was made to look like a goat. Why is Hejduk still in the national team picture? Seriously? I don't get it.

Now, Bennett is a 19-year old kid just getting his feet wet at the international level. I shudder to think of what the Italians or Czechs might do to the U.S. at this point.

Even worse, the U.S. failed to create any legitimate scoring chances of its own in the course of play. Ben Olsen's equalizer, a weak shot, came when the Jamaican defense was caught napping after a quick restart by Landon Donovon. It was far from a goal worth hanging your hat on, especially since any goalkeeper other than Jamaica's Donovon Rickett's, who I think may just be legitimately crazy, would have saved it. Chris Albright had a couple of near-misses on headers, but both came off of free kicks. Other than that, the U.S. was alarmingly insufficient at breaking down the Jamaican defense with anything resembling creativity. Again, the Italians would toy with such a feeble attack.

Clint Dempsey was the only U.S. player who looked even somewhat exciting.

Like I said, it's too early to dismiss the U.S.'s chances in Germany this summer. These are practice games. Certainly, a few of the missing names will make a big difference. But I'm having a hard time seeing us getting out of the first round. Maybe I'm just being pessimistic. I hope so.


Blogger Bill-DC said...

Arena said in a luncheon I went to last month that the final score of these upcoming friendlies will matter little. He's going to name his roster the first week in May and he will keep up to ten alternates in case of injuries.

Arena wanted to get final looks from several players in MLS. Ben Olsen is one of them. Four players haven't gotten full looks because of injuries (Ralston, Noonan, Albright, O'Brien).

Plus Arena started Tony Meola in goal as it was his 100th appearance with the US. He has no shot to make the roster but Arena did it as a reward for his prior service.

No cause for alarm just yet but the US is in a tough group and will have to work its ass off to reach the round of eight like they did in 2002.

4:31 AM  
Blogger UnknownColumn said...

Yeah, I'm not panicking. Guys are missing and Arena is testing things out. It's still early.

I'd just like to see us beat Jamaica on American soil, friendly or not.

The less I see of Franki Hejduk, though, the happier I'll be.

7:12 AM  

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