Friday, July 6, 2007
Thomas Rongen Should Be Proud: US U-20's 2-1 Brazil
What a thrilling match. Fantastic. As a soccer fan, I am thoroughly enjoying myself. With this win, the US is one of the strongest contenders for U-20 World Cup glory. I predict an amazing run towards the final.
Let's get right into it. In no particular order:
Outstanding players in the first half
-Sal Zizzo did a really impressive job at right wing and his drives toward goal were one of the US' most consistently dangerous threats throughout the match. Ives: "Is that really UCLA's Zizzo schooling Real Madrid's Marcelo?"
-Robbie Rogers did a great job over on the left wing. Rogers seems to appreciate that sometimes it's better to dribble towards the center for a good look or a wicked shot instead of constantly pounding the wing for a blind cross. Good stuff.
-Altidore maintained a physical presence and exhibited world-class composure to burn the ball past Brazil keeper Cassio. I'm already dreaming about the Olympics next year.
-Anthony Wallace (played left back for the US) is relatively unknown and unheralded in the US soccer community, but he looked amazingly calm versus Pato et. al. Fancy footwork didn't faze him. If Bornstein can't sort himself out by 2010, I have a strange feeling this kid will overtake his spot on the squad.
-See my comments below about Seitz in the second half.
-Jo was a terror.
-Pato showed great creativity to work the ball in the box, but his bane is his finishing touch. Understatement of the year: he's decent for a 17 year-old.
Outstanding players in the second half
- Michael Bradley will probably get a pat on the back for his performance tonight and not much else. I'm here to make it known that he did a great job keeping the Brazilians from running amok straight through our defense. I'll be the first to say that he's not suited for the holding midfielder role (on the US senior squad he's got much more creative license), but because he's one of the most physically mature players in the U-20 tournament, he's automatically qualified to knock opponents off the ball. Furthermore, he's got a great touch for dispersing pressure, knowing who to send the ball to and in which direction; none of this, "I have the ball under direct pressure, let me stand up straight and attempt to clear it across the field" nonsense I've seen way too much from our U20's and seniors alike. Bradley plays it one time on the ground to a player who can pass it forward or comfortably clear to safety. If you never score in this tournament, Bradley, that's okay: I've been watching.
- Adu stayed in magical form. He's got a certain strategy I'm starting to appreciate: in the first half he puts in an honest effort orchestrating the attack and formulating offensive plays from the hole; in the second half, when it seems like the whole world's tired but him, Adu slips up top next to Jozy and has his way with the opponent's defense. I thought for a time that his size and build were too slight for him to work past taller, stronger opponents, but I was wrong. Adu has a great touch and a great eye to match. Adu was another of our most consistent threats throughout the game.
- Altidore never lost composure or physicality, sometimes working with his back towards goal a la Ching and other times having a dribble against defenders a la Twellman. Great stuff.
- Seitz: Man of the Match. A Perkins-esque, Guzan-like performance made him truly stand out among a pitch full of rising stars. I am extremely worried about his right leg; he stopped taking kicks and laid down straight away after the whistle blew. If he goes down for the quarterfinals, the US' chances of taking the title are halved.
- Jo and Leandro Lima never let down, constantly pressing forward. They are deft passers and downright filthy dribblers. Amazing. Lima didn't deserve to score and tie the game; Pato did. Pato's chip should never have hit the side netting.
Beltran had an absolutely horrible game. He was completely outclassed. That's not to say he wasn't putting for the effort: I saw the sweat dripping from his brow. Despite his good effort, he was a defensive hazard and an offensive woe. I was honestly surprised it took so long for Rongen to throw Ward in for Beltran. Better luck next time, kid.
I'm starting to wonder if something is wrong with Ferrari.
I'll say it again: with this win, the US is one of the top contenders for the U-20 title. This game proves they know how to score and are capable of winning 70, 80, even 90 minutes into a match. Thomas Rongen should be proud.
Lets hope the players get ample regeneration time to be fresh against whoever in the quarterfinals. I'll be thrilled to watch it, whenever it is.
Query: In Brazil they tout young stars as 'the next Ronaldinho' and in France, 'the next Zidane.' Does that make Adu the next Donovan? What does that make Altidore? The next Wynalda? In my opinion, young American stars make a name for themselves very early on.