|photo by Thomas Faivre-Duboz||via PhotoRee|
More so in order to dry out than for any other reason, after publishing more consecutive beer reviews than at any time in our long and distinguished blogging history, farlieonfootie returns to its football-flavored roots on Tuesday to watch on as the US took on Ecuador in the Big Apple. Herewith, some observations from the big night, which ended with a disappointing 1-nil loss, courtesy of Tim Ream failing to properly mark his man late in the contest:
o Rumored European target Breck Shea began the game brightly, unleashing a testing, long range bullet at the Ecuadorian goalie in the first five minutes. Despite the fact he looks more like he belongs on a surfboard in the Orange County lineup next to Frankie Hejduk than on a soccer pitch, I like the look of the kid and hope he lives up to his early promise. Whether he can succeed in Europe is another question altogether, but he's got the size to make it work -- now we need to see if he's got the head and feet.
o I was interested to note that the Ecuadorian goalkeeper, Maximo Banguera, wore a baseball cap during the game.
And to top it all off, the hat appeared to be advertising HGTV in HD -- as in the Home & Garden Television Network. Home decorating tips, anyone?
o There were lots of yellow shirts visible in the crowd, broken up by smaller pockets of Red, White and Blue. Due to the massive number of immigrants in this country, the US National team is one of those rare cases in FIFA in which the "home" team is not always better supported than the "visitors." It's a bit like the situation faced by the professional sports teams in Miami, a city in which everyone is originally from somewhere else: when the Jets, Mets, Yankees, Phillies, Flyers, Cubs or Steelers come to town, the local team is often under-represented as compared to the opposition. To counter this disadvantage, the US plays it smart, often seeking to play its most formidable CONCACAF rival -- Mexico -- in a place like Columbus, Ohio. In February.
o Quick question: how in the world is Jonathan Spector still playing for the USMNT? I thought for sure his time was over, and the fact he signed for Birmingham City -- a horribly painful team to watch last season, one in which they were relegated to the Championship -- should have sealed his permanent departure from the national scene. Yet still he plays on. Does he have compromising pictures of Sunil Gulati?
o Speaking of washed up players, I thought DaMarcus Beasley looked completely revitalized last night, better than I've seen him look in years. Maybe the wideman has got a new lease on life under Klinsmann.....
o It would seem as if Michael "Nepo" Bradley, aka The Great Gazoo, is no longer an automatic choice as a starter under Klinsi, and I think that's a positive. Bradley's a decent player, but not a standout for me. And with the US midfield already crowded with potential starters, this particular fan is glad that Bradley -- typically more defensive minded than anything else -- is having to prove his worth to get time on the pitch.
|photo by thievingjoker||via PhotoRee|
o The US is still a team in transition under new headman Klinsmann. The US looks betwixt and between right now -- a bit more energetic and interested in attacking than they seemed under Bob Bradley, but nowhere near where I think the Southern California bossman -- by way of Germany, natch -- wants them to be. They're beginning to look more comfortable with the quick touch, triangle-based, high tempo offense Klinsmann has installed, but they still concede possession much too easily, and seem streaky in games -- for example, they performed at a much higher level in the first half last night than they did in the second. If they can figure out a way to string 90 full minutes together, though, watch out -- this team could have some potential.
o Big picture: another good start and a late fade brought another loss for a US team that is struggling to find the net under their new coach -- an offensive genius. My guess is they'll get there -- but it's going to take some time as the new guy figures out who fits into the future and who doesn't. Lots of guys are getting a look right now, and let's hope that instead of channeling his inner Al Davis -- "Just Win, Baby! -- Klinsi is instead focussed on testing out the masses before deciding who's going to be key to his World Cup qualifying run.
This is farlieonfootie for October 12.