|photo by eschipul||via PhotoRee|
The tide has turned. It wasn't that long ago (1 year) that people were reporting complaints from the US camp about Jurgen Klinsmann while Mexico was sauntering through their pre-hex group, after winning the Gold Cup for the second consecutive time. But now the US has spanked two minnows and Mexico can't seem to buy or even borrow a goal, going down to Panama in a recent outing. Not that Panama isn't a worthy opponent, it's just that this latest defeat is yet another point on the downward spiral that will inevitably see Chepo ousted.
And what to make of Canada's latest humiliation - a 1-0 defeat to the Caribbean powerhouse known as Martinique? Any time you lose to an overseas territory of France with a fort as its capital, it's time to shift gears. I mean, I know Canada isn't actually as big as the Mercator projection on my map would have you believe, but population does matter and Canada's is 85 times bigger than their islander opponent's. When the pool is that much bigger it should be a cinch to field a better team and win. Must be too much lugeing going on north of our border.
Against Belize, Wondolowski took full advantage of Herculez Gomez' forced rest due to artificial turf by notching a hat trick before half-time. Being in the right place at the right time certainly helped, as did some sloppy defending, but one has to wonder if finally translating his MLS goal-scoring proficiency to the international game will help Wondo to a roster spot in Brazil.
I watched the Belize game in Spanish, which is always fun. The commentators are just like Gus Johnson but with even more enthusiasm and 10 times more knowledge. And you gotta love that they call Torres "El Gringo Torres."
Other things I love are Landon Donovan and Stuart Holden. The former, before being money (as always) on an undeserved penalty, set up the latter, whose composure on the ball is impressive and very welcome, for a goal that will surely boost the returning midfielder's spirits and prospects.
I had to keep reminding myself that this was only Belize as we looked awesome - winning the ball back quickly, defending well, passing well and creating and converting chances.
Maybe it's a trend - we also looked pretty good against Guatemala. My Alpharetta friend, Steve, not even a huge soccer fan unless he is betting on the game, was impressed by Damarcus Beasley's play in that game. Calling the slight defender "My Guy" throughout, Alpharetta Steve liked his explosiveness and commented that "anything can happen" when he gets the ball.
This was also the game that saw Donovan instantly reclaim his spot on the team (in my mind anyway) by scoring twice. Holden also made a late cameo in this game, showing the creativity and tenacity that will see him in the starting 11 come World Cup time.
Clarence Goodson looked solid defensively and surprisingly dangerous going forward. Likewise, Brek Shea, when he came on, needed a minute to get into the game but then provided some nice service and impressed with his speed.
What was not impressive was Nick Rimando's communication and clearing skills. It was evident he needs to let his defenders do the footwork and clear the ball for him because on 3 separate occasions it seemed he called a retreating defender off the ball only to muff the clearance, once very dangerously.
Still after 6 goals in each of the last two games and Cuba on tap next, I like the momentum and USA's current direction.
This is farlieonfootie for July 13.