|photo by Muffet||via PhotoRee|
Scott is always good for some thoughts on the beautiful game, but never more so than when he's writing about the US Men's National Team:
It may be cliché to call USA's Gold Cup championship bittersweet due to Stuart Holden's injury, but clichés persist because of their aptness. When I think about the fact that my disappointment is only a shadow of what that young talent is experiencing, despite the brave words he tweeted, I am crushed. After taking the reins of the US team at the 2009 Gold Cup, the trajectory of his career seemed certain. But a broken leg courtesy of Nigel de Jong followed by a gash and torn ACL courtesy of Johnny Evans led to over 2 years of rehabilitation. He was just getting back into the national team and I believe his performance would have gotten him more looks with the "A" team and, ultimately (in my opinion) a place in Brazil. I am crushed.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, someone who crushed it in the tournament is Landon Donovan. His stats were gaudy as he flitted about looking as if he hadn't taken a single day away from the sport. Just asked Panama's Quintero who was more than just a little shocked when the veteran was able to track down the speedster. Donovan will be in Brazil. And he will be fundamental to our success. Will he start against Costa Rica in Sept? I don't know for sure but I would guess that he will be there but start on the bench. Landon Donovan coming off the bench in the 60th minute would be a scary thing for all in San Jose.
I am guilty, like most people, of not saying anything when officiating is good but chiming in when it is poor. So I'm happy to report that I thought the referee did a very good job in the Final. He certainly did a better job than the semi-final referee who allowed open season with tackles. On the contrary, he reined in players as appropriate, kept his cards in his pocket unless needed, and did a very good job with the advantage rule. Interesting that it was the same guy who officiated the Snow Bowl game between Costa Rica and the US.
I would say that Donovan, Eddie Johnson and Clarence Goodson all made very strong claims to be included on the roster for the next qualifying games. Interesting that it was Freddy Adu who helped Johnson come out of his funk and resume his quality play. Bedoya received lots of praise from the announcers, and did contribute to a couple goals, but had a very heavy touch on many occasions and seems just another year or so away from prime time. I continue to shake my head in disbelief of how effective Beasley is at the back but agree with those who say that he will struggle when he is consistently matched up with the big, fast elite forwards that he will meet in the World Cup.
You know, some people don't like Eric Wynalda as an announcer but I think he does a pretty good job, even if he does seem to emulate Chris Berman at times (e.g. "the AMERICAN Clint Dempsey). I like his enthusiasm, willingness to say what is on his mind and he certainly knows the game - for example, showing how Parkhust's run created the space for the cross that led to the goal. I don't always agree with him or like him, but he makes watchable TV for me. Then again, I liked the Golden Girls, so what do I know?
In closing, a quick word on the Real Madrid v. LA Galaxy game from Thursday night. First, it was interesting how I, a Real Madrid fan, found myself pulling for the MLS team, wanting them to redeem themselves from last year's thumping in a similar fixture and craving for them to earn more respect for the game in the US. In my opinion, they did just that. Even without Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane, the Galaxy not only hung with one of the best teams in the world, but looked dangerous at times. They didn't pack it in and defend, but rather possessed and created. There is no shame in losing 3- 1 to such a team, especially when the Spanish team's third goal was due to a goalkeeping error from the until-then excellent Brian Rowe. And boy did the 19-year-old Jose Villarreal make a statement for continued looks by the US National team. His goal was a thumping left footer from the edge of the area after juking two Real Madrid defenders - world class.
This is farlieonfootie for August 2.