Saturday, June 30, 2007

U-20 WC: US 1-1 KOR

What a real disappointment. I was watching glimpses of the Poland-Brazil upset and I was really encouraged by what I saw: Poland showed real talent and tenacity in keeping Brazil at bay. I wanted the same kind of character to apply to the US game: I wanted to see the US play to their strengths and really possess the game. They didn't, but I'm not laying the fault entirely at the squad. The US was constantly being kept in check by ignorant refereeing. It was really unfortunate to see.

The US lined up with a 4-3-3, playing to Adu, Bradley, and Altidore in the center of the field, but for some reason the US squad found better momentum on the wings. I'll say this: the US didn't have the touch, or curry enough favor with the referee, to confront the Koreans head on down the center. With Johann Smith gone, the increased amount of wing play never produced and the result was a lot of hopeful (sometimes even blind) crosses into the box for someone to get a touch on. Happened once in the 16th: someone pentrated the flank, crossed it in, and Szetela happened to be in the right place at the right time. It never happened again.

The Koreans formed a 3-5-2, creating a staggered mesh between their back three and holding midfielders to nullify the US' capability to send a long ball forward. Jozy was positioned in no man's land and had absolutely no service from the midfield the entire game. The Korean wingers were definately more for attacking purposes than flank patrol. In effect, the Koreans lined up in a 3-2-3-2.

The officiating controlled the game in a very negative way, gifting Korea with opportunities in advanced positions, penalizing the US defense for playing a physical game, and frequently disrupting the US' transitional momentum. This is horribly disappointing to me. Absolutely stupid officiating.

Update: Ives has posted his critique of the match. He places more of the blame on the US squad and makes a point that Freddy Adu is failing everyone's lofty expectations. Ives also comments that the US had no wing play, which confuses me because it seemed like all the best plays from the US were built from the wing. Also:

"Ultimately, this U.S. team doesn't want to go into the Brazil match needing a result because I see the Brazil attack absolutely shredding this back-line. "

I don't, if the US can stay strong and stand them up. Disrupt and prevent service into the box: these are the two keys to the US defense, ones they missed vs. Korea, but ones I think they'll realize vs. Poland and Brazil.

Other notes:

- You could tell that despite his lack of opportunities, Altidore is a true scoring threat, a real dangerous striker of the kind that the senior national squad is in sore need of. The sooner this kid hits the big time, the better.

- Unwarranted calls and harsh yellows have made the US defense timid. No more hard tackles in the defensive third. Korea is enjoying this.

- It's disappointing to see the referees taking the US' physicality out of the game, but it's also disappointing to see that without their physicality, the US defenders don't know how to defend.

- Seitz is MOM for me. He came up big on several occaisons and did his best to hold on to the match. RSL should be proud.

- Johann Smith is sorely missed.

- I'm not saying the referees were biased, but their calls were definately one-sided.

- US shafted in 40th: obvious penalty. This refereeing is really f*cking maddening.

- Altidore needs to see more ball.

- Bradley has really failed expectations. Everyone expected him to exert some influence in midfield but I couldn't tell that he was there at all.

- The referees finally toss the US a bone with a dangerously positioned free kick, and you know what happens? The US knocks it out because the Korean goalkeeper clocked one of his own guys. At this point I'd like to see a statistic tabulating exactly how many times a downed Korean has f*cked the US' momentum.

- US SHAFTED AGAIN: blatant penalty in the 92nd but the ref waves it off. Abslutely astounding. Altidore is frustrated and rightly so.

- Both of those un-penalties involved the US's last attacker and a significant goal-scoring opportunity. Textbook penalty calls which are especially upsetting when you consider that the ref let the Koreans go without cards on either of those two situations.

-I'm confused: Ferrari was not a member of the starting lineup, nor was he subbed in at any point. What gives?

U-20 WC: US - KOR Halftime

I'll post some thoughts later, but I want to make it known right now that the officiating this game is just f*cking maddening. I'm not saying the referees are biased, but these calls are definately one-sided.

Friday, June 29, 2007

The Good Word of Goff, and How It Got So Good

This Is American Soccer got intrepid with Internet blogging recently and did something of actual journalistic worth:

TIAS interviewed Stephen Goff. I'm at once jealous and thrilled.

Here's what I found most interesting:

"[Goff:] yeah, I try not to put too much opinion or analysis in my work and I think that is the stuff that players get annoyed about. I’m not saying that was the case with Ives, but in general if a player knows you have a strong opinion about something, than yeah, they are going to treat you differently than other reporters. So, I’m very careful about what I say and write about particular situations. I just don’t have as strong a voice as some of the other columnists or bloggers out there. I choose not to. I feel like I’m a journalist; I’m a reporter. I don’t want to take sides. I don’t want to express any opinion. I try to play it down the middle as much as I can. I avoid those situations. "

I've always wondered about that. When comparing Goff to Ives, Ives is much, much louder and outspoken, at least when comparing their blogs. Ives is simultaneously news and analysis, Goff tends to be more news-oriented, and even the opinion he sprinkles like journalistic jimmies throughout his WashPost pieces is sporadic in frequency. He definitely aims to keep his pieces as neutral as possible.

I have mixed feelings about this. While I'm glad he has a very professional attitude, I would appreciate it well if Goff took a more Ive-ish stance towards reporting and told the masses what he thinks. If Goff decided to post his unadulterated opinion about something, I would read it. I want to hear what he has to say.

Ives was interviewed in a similar way by a blogger, but that was a good while back. I can't find it on his archives.

These kinds of interviews always fascinate me because I look up to people like Arroyave, Canales, Ives and Goff and I love to see how they got to be where they are. I would give plenty much to become a beat writer.

Thanks, TIAS. You've made my heart glad.

Erpen's Gone!

And just like that, Vanney's in.

That was quick.

But at this point, Vanney is old news (no pun intended) and what interests me more is Goff's tidbit about the young central defender "VAGNER GEORGE SANTANA DA SILVA," coming in from business parter Atletico Mineiro for a trial. If he impresses, Mineiro loans him for the rest of the season, at which point DC would have the option to retain. Here's to hoping. We'll address you yet, defensive depth issues.

DCU to Trade Erpen for Vanney

You know, I was going to get some sleep and then Goff comes up with this gem:

DCU is going to trade young Erpen for old Vanney.

As big as Erpen's salary is, Vanney's is bigger, so trading a 24 year-old all-star for a 34 year-old has-been seems stupid.

But here's the logic I'm drawing: with Jaime and Olsen gone, Gomez is our only veteran and he's not fulfilling his role as a team leader. Furthermore, with Boswell gone we have no guidance on defense. Vanney's purpose is to give the backfield some cohesiveness so the offense can find the creative dynamic Soehn intended them to have from the season's beginning. As of right now, everyone on the pitch is defending because the defense can't, and in that sense, Vanney is the piece to our puzzle.

I've heard someone toss up the theory of Gomez for Vanney instead of Erpen, and I would tend to agree because Gomez is completely uninspired this season and I still have great hope for Erpen's potential, but seeing as Emilio is still trying to find his magic touch and Kpene & Addlery are still evolving, removing Gomez from the picture would be a setback. We would feel Gomez' loss more acutely than Erpen's, I'm thinking.

Anyways, with Erpen's international slot freed up, Soehn and the Front Office can finally secure a DP who will, in theory, lead DCU through the playoffs and beyond. It's about time.

Vanney couldn't handle the wetness of the pitch tonight so he was flopping all over the place, but with his feet under him I think he could do us some good. I'm sorry to see Erpen go, but it's the smartest move DCU feels it can make at this point, and reluctantly I agree.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Gringos Lose, Fulfill Everyone's Expectations: ARG 4-1 US

Anyone shocked? No? Good.

EJ converted the penalty early on and I was thinking that if US could even salvage a draw, everyone would be surprised. But then I also thought that Argentina would bring the heat, and they did. So, to recap:

Things got interesting for a time. Argentina scored thirty seconds later. Then everything went back to normal.

For some real analysis, Ives' running commentaries are good reading even as post-game leftovers. Otherwise, here's the hard stuff.

I was waiting for Davies or Nguyen to get out there and give me something to enjoy, but "Horse shit!" said Bob Bradley and gallantly out went Gaven and Beckerman. Thanks, Bob. I'm thrilled.

Feilhaber was the only gringo who remotely stood out (surprised?) and Wynne and Bornstein looked completely out of their league. Everyone, Feilhaber included, looked entirely too slow: receive the ball, look up, think, touch, look up, think, touch. There need to be quicker decisions, or, even better, some good reflexes based on group dynamic. The train of thought, "If I receive the ball here, then I know EJ will be making his run, so I pass there," needs to be reduced to, "I pass there." And EJ needs to run.

Along the same idea, our flow stuttered throughout the match. It's like everybody was looking for everybody else but no one found anyone. Wtf? Let's work on that a bit.

Other notes:

- Nice hairdo, Crespo. I can't recognize you though.

- I'd say that Crespo, Messi, and Tevez terrorized our back line but that was painfully obvious, and I'd hate to leave the other dozen Argentine players from the list of people who completely outclassed the United States tonight.

- Argentina has flawless transition from defense to offense. Their ability to play as a team is consistently awesome.

- Is anyone tired if the U.S. scoring on penalties? Actually, during the DCU game ESPN conducted a phone interview with Landon Donovan and apparently he's pretty sick of them, too. I'd think that he would want to break Wynalda's record in style, so I'd think Beasley will be the next one to step up to the penalty spot, should the opporutnity arise. Won't happen during the Copa, though.

- Off topic: I already miss the Univision lead commentator and the liberties he takes with players' names. Namely I'm thinking back to yesterday when he made Vagner Love sound like an adult film star. XD

I'm wicked tired. Sweet dreams por todos. G'night.

DCU Leaves It Late, 4-1 vs. COL

Highlights here.

I disqualified myself from being able to give any real analysis tonight. I walked away after Addlery scored and when I came back, NBA draft, so I wandered over to the computer and watched the US-ARG match. Anyways, I'll give you what little I got:

The only thing slick about this game was the grass. Absolutely no synchronicity.

The game wasn't ugly, just uncoordinated. There wasn't any chemistry from the back four between themselves or the wings. Fred, Addlery, and Moose only got what they could make for themselves, which explains why they enjoyed some of the more encouraging moments of DCU's game, but the rest of the field looked utterly lackluster.

No connections between passes and no smart runs off the ball. Slow thinking combined with a wet field made for a damp dynamic overall. Nothing too good.

Addlery worked hard in his unexpected opportunity, using muscle and staying on top of the ball. He had a nice touch at some point in the second half and made it a two-v-two situation near Colorado's 18, at which point he promptly shanked one over the backboards. I drew a blank.

Yet fifteen minutes later he hustled a goal from Fred's corner kick for the best connection of the match. Congrats to Addlery for his first professional goal in the MLS. He earned it out there. Even so: get healthy soon, Kpene.

Good to see Fred finally putting his name in lights and Emilio adding another scalp to his collection.

Other notes:

- Perkins looked solid. The defense didn't.

- Way to go the extra mile, Simms.

- Erpen: if you were waiting for a time to seize the limelight, it's come. Boswell is gone. The big shadow is lifted. You want some time to shine? This is it. Now's the time. Don't blow it.

- Why doesn't Emilio have any kind of influence on the pitch? No commanding presence, no intimidation. He kind of sneaks into the fold until he's in the box with a ball at his feet. He must be a god at hide and seek.

- Moose looked more than decent, if a bit lonesome working by himself. His performance tonight really makes me wonder what the hell Mediate is here for (to give deRoux some friendly competition?), but I'll just have to wait and see, I guess.

-Peterson from Colorado enjoyed himself tonight.

- Why was 3/4 of the commentary tonight devoted to assimilating Tommy Smyth into American sport culture? That's cute, you guys, really cute, but there's some soccer going on and I'd love to hear what you have to say about it. (Now that I'm actually thinking about this, it always seems like Smyth has something intelligent to say and then Wynalda says something to take the commentary in a completely different direction. They're not butting heads or disagreeing at every opportunity; they're just not thinking in the same way. Or just not thinking, period.)

-While we're talking about commentary, ESPN had no idea what to do with themselves during the rain delay. They recapped the NBA draft and NFL news twice during the match (really f*ckin annoying) and when it became apparent that the match would be postponed, they decided that more recap would be satisfactory. I don't know that they had any other option, but really. Come on now.

Vamos Los Gringos!!

DCenters posted something about something Off Wing Opinion posted and now I'm posting something about it.

I've decided: the Yanks, the US MNT, the Red-White-and-Blue, will officially be referred to by me as "Los Gringos." This has made sense to me for a long time and I'm glad other people see the merit, too.

I'll be watching Los Gringos play Argentina tonight, after the DCU game. (Just making sure the name sticks, and it does, so...)


Johann Smith to Miss U-20 WC

Young American Johann Smith is injured and will miss the entire tournament.

Apparently he strained his ankle during the recent closed-door scrimmage versus New Zealand. His replacement, Preston Zimmerman, has already arrived with the squad in Canada. Johann must be pretty upset.

This is alarming, both because the world will not get a good look at this talented young American during the scouting orgy that is U-20 WC, and also because Smith is a focal point of the US U-20 attack. This is a major blow to the team. I was under the impression that Zimmerman impressed the coaching staff during his call-ups but that he didn't impress enough to oust someone from the starting lineup. There was a reason he wasn't originally invited to Canada.

Nevertheless, I hope he makes the best of this opportunity. One thing that could be said is that Smith has already established himself with a prolific club in Europe (Bolton Wanderers) while Zimmerman, though he, too, is with a European club, has yet to make a name for himself.

Good luck regardless, boys. Make the most of it.

I'm faced with a dilemma tonight.

It's Thursday Night Soccer and for once, ESPN is showing the Big Black Mistress. Home game against Colorado. I could watch it, and I should, seeing that I haven't seen a DCU game in weeks.

But then there's the ultra-exciting USA-Argentina game being streamed online. Last night I projected the MEX-BRZ game on my wall and it looked great. Very exciting.

My Tivo is being messed up, but I'm gonna tivo the DCU match and watch the USA game if I can. Late night tonight, methinks.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Mexico Blanks Brazil 2-0

What an entertaining game. I streamed the game live from, like I posted, but I scored a projector from work and projected the game on my wall. It was fantastic. Francisco Guillermo Ochoa ftw. Skills, thrills, mariachi bands. Absolutely incredible.

I don't have any analysis other than Brazil played beautifully despite their atypically poor form and losingness (any other term for being in the state of losing?), and Nery Castillo was hot in the first half and just plain wasteful in the second.

By the way, Ochoa, Guardado, and Castillo are going to be snatched up by someone pretty soon. Castillo's already at Olympiakos, so maybe he's not going anywhere for awhile, but these guys are hot property right now.

I'll be doing the same thing tomorrow for the US match and hopefully I'll have some analysis.


Aha, Well Now... News and Notes for 6/27

As usual, Goff comes up with the goods.

Apparently Casal did not make the Nigeria roster. I have no inside information on this other than the Good Word of Goff, but something tells me he got shafted. I think Casal is a great talent and I'm really disappointed he won't get the opportunity to prove it at the U-20 WC. I'm almost positive he would have made the U.S. U-20 roster. If Casal and his blinding, superhero-like speed couldn't crack the Nigeria U-20 roster, I'm thinking the Nigerians will be a side to take definite precautions about. (The Nigerians will be a side about which to take definite precautions? Dunno, can't tell. Grammar fails me.)

Also, in that same Goff update we learn that Gros has broken his wrist again, this time during the first half of the RSL game. It's amazing how many times this guy gets injured in places which don't impair his game (does the brain count?). But dammit to hell, Gros, stop hurting yourself.


By now you should know that DCU has released good ole John Wilson who hasn't yet seen a minute of first-team action this season. What you should be paying attention to, however, is the fact that DCU is apparently resigning Dominic Mediate.

I'll make myself clear: this is no good.

Dominic showed up really well the last time I saw him (live at RFK, forget against who, but it was a good match if I can recall) and the general consensus in the DCU blogosphere is that Mediate will be a positive addition to the squad. He's fast and is in the good habit of dribbling at defenders, looking for a shot. Great stuff.

What I don't like is that Moose has since stepped up and claimed that role in Mediate's injury absence-- the role promising young gringo with a good habit of going at defenders. I don't see why we need another, unless Mediate is showing more promise than Moose or Mediate has dramatically recouped his form and is more impressive than his first time around.

After Mupier, I was kind of hoping DCU, aka the Big Black Mistress, would save herself for someone bigger, someone stronger, with a great knack for dealing with young white kids who like to dribble at defenders. I want DCU to sign some quality defensive talent, maybe even a talented left back. The bright, ever-inquisitve minds over at Fullback Files have even come up with a suggestion: Venezuelan left back Jorge Rojas, currently on duty with his national side at the Copa. I'm all for this. What a great idea. Sign me up. Brilliant. I love it.

There'd probably be a hassle what with DCU's cap room and international slot situation. I'm never exactly clear what DCU's slot situation is at a given moment. But I think (without having the potential signing in question play for any amount of time at all) that Rojas is a defender in the mould that DCU is looking for. So why are we fooling around with Mediate?

In sum, it is my completely unjustified opinion that Mediate is not what the team needs: Rojas is.

And you can take that to the bank.


DaMarcus Beasley has made it official with Rangers. My jury's still out on this. I couldn't even judge if he'd be starting or not. I think I'll wait to judge until I can see for myself how this is playing out. If Rangers sign who they want to sign (namely Julien Faubert, which would be amazing) then this could be a very big opportunity for DaMarcus to plant his name in headlines with quality performances and international intrigue a la his Eindhoven days.

On a slightly different note, I think Celtic's signing of Massimo Donati from the Serie A is fantastic. Good for them. I would be more impressed if Rangers scored Faubert, though.

Finally, rumor has it that Danny Szetela is being targeted for a big Euro transfer after the U-20 WC, which is great for him because everyone and their mother is being targeted for a big Euro transfer after the U-20 WC and I wouldn't want Danny to feel left out.

But I'll be honest: I am very excited to see who jumps the pond after the tournament. There's some great American talent headed north right about now and I would love to infest the world with it, no joke.


I'll be watching the Brazil-Mexico game tonight, so I'll probably bbl.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Let Me Preach, TFC Fans

Hear me out, all none of you Toronto fans reading this blog.

With MoJo feeling pretty good about himself what with Dunivant heading across the border and new signing Samuel sure to bring some heat, TFC is having one of the best rookie seasons an MLS team has ever had. Very respectable.

And yet, while I'm not fan enough to comment about TFC's midfield, I think TFC could do better. Here's how:

Sign that Gerba kid.

Wikipedia says he's contracted to OFK Gotenborg in Sweden, but that he's being loaned every which way across the Nordic belt. No doubt he's benefitting from European football, but I think if TFC wants to become a class side among the NYRB/LA Galaxy/ DC United ranks, there needs to be a guy name Gerba in the TFC squad. His fervor and attacking clout, coupled with Dichio and Samuel's Euro-tested striking skills, could prove to be a revelation for TFC, Canada, and the MLS.

But wait! There's more!

If signing Gerba wouldn't take a DP slot, this probably would. The next thing you need to do, TFC, after you sign Gerba, is to bring DeRo home.

That's right. Sign DeRosario.

It makes immigration and therefore roster sense to do both of these things: neither player would hog a senior international slot, things which clubs are very hard pressed to come by these days. Between Gerba and DeRo, TFC would have a terrific midfield. This goes without saying.

Clear some cap room by selling Ronnie O'Brien and whoever else you feel like, and then make this happen, I beseech you. Canadians everywhere will be thanking you for years.

FYI @ MLS Youth Programs

Excerpt from one of Ives' full-fledged articles in the Herald:

"Thanks to a series of policy changes by MLS, these aspiring professional soccer players have a far more direct path to the pros than ever before. The league's new player development initiative, launched last fall, will now allow MLS teams to sign players directly from their own league-approved youth programs. As one of the few teams in MLS to already have a qualified player development system in place, the Red Bulls will be one of the first to be allowed to sign their own youth team players, beginning with one player next year."

Couple this with an article straight from the DCU FO itself:

"Last week, two members of D.C. United's U-16 team got a taste of some of the exciting changes happening in the Youth Academy when they got a unique opportunity to train with the likes of Ben Olsen, Bobby Boswell, Troy Perkins and the rest of the club's first team. D.C. United U-16 teammates Shane Cooke and Bill Hamid joined the full squad for three days of training to help them get a feel for what playing with the first team might be like - an opportunity Maessner believes is priceless for his young players."

Cooke is a midfielder and Hamid is a goalkeeper (DCU always seems to be well stocked) and from what I can glean from the article, it seems their talent merited a good look from the DCU senior coaching staff. Furthermore, DCU's U-16 team is already member of the new Youth Academy system currently being inaugurated by US Soccer.

Very encouraging stuff.

Want to see the Copa but don't have GolTV?

Well, then we're the same. Thankfully someone on Ives' blog posted this gem:

Stream every Copa match live on For free. No downloads required.

What a godsend.

(And you know what? As long as we're talking about streaming live matches for free:

USL Live has some interesting Open Cup matches soon.


Johann Smith is Being Notcied (Barely)

Soccerlens mentioned him as one of Bolton Wanderers three best young prospects. I would love to see someone come up with a list for MLS, if they felt like taking a crack. Between Arguez & Casal, I think DCU would be very well represented. I've also heard good things about NYRB youth.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

US Snatches the Gold Cup, 2-1

Easily one of the best USA v. Mexico matches in years, arguably the best Nats performance of the Bradley era. No matter how you slice it, Bradley's got his first taste of silver and now has Copa action to wash it down with.

Yanks Abroad , Fullback, Goff, Ives, and QuarterVolley.

I'll get right into some player ratings (out of 10):

Howard - 9
Timmy has none of the calming veteran tranquility that Keller possessed but all of the passion, intensity, and drive to keep the US defense inspired 60, 70, 90 minutes into a match. Truly inspirational presence. On top of that he's got a magic touch to keep a team in the game, making clutch saves at crucial moments. In sum, Howard really impressed me tonight. USA's ranking #1 keeper without a doubt. Great job, Timmy.

Bornstein - 7
Bornstein was contributing to the attack tonight and really made his offensive presence known, confirming haunting suspicions that he actually does have some talent. Too bad he was caught way out of position on the goal, shifting the defense over to the left and leaving Guardado wide open. I won't go so far as to say he caused the goal (Castillo burned Gooch and Boca), but I'm fairly certain it could have been prevented if he were properly positioned.

Boca - 8
Wearing the captain's armband, Boca truly seemed the anchor of the US defense and would come up with crucial tackles when things were looking desparate. Commendable effort.

Gooch - 7
His best performance in a long time. He didn't look stellar but he certainly proved to everyone watching that he is a good defender of international quality. For some reason, though, it seems like when everyone touts Gooch's physical presence and size and strength, he seems to be the one being knocked around the most on the pitch.

Spector - 6
He was holding his own, but barely. That sickening collision with Guardado might have been a blessing in disguise. I hope he recovers soon. Looked very scary.

Mastroeni - 7
Nothing really wrong with his performance tonight. Had some good tackles, performed well as the typically slow holding midfielder. Stuck up for his teammates with the ref.

Feilhaber - 9
I really didn't sense his presence at all up until his blessed goal, but afterwards he seemed like the best field player on the pitch. His performance tonight will make a great case for a big international transfer or at least some significant first team minutes from HSV. Finally the public will be hearing about a stellar performance by a talented young American whose name isn't Donovan.

Beasley - 7.5
Proves yet again why he's the top left winger for the US squad. He's got speed, touch, and damned sexy ball service. Only thing is, the boy can't finish. Where's the final shot? He's not alone. Nevertheless, 'Gers will be lucky to have him come the fall. (He only went for 1.some-odd mil? That's almost insulting.)

Donovan - 7.5
Quite an average performance from Donnie, which is suprising given he was starting on the wing, but he offered nothing we haven't seen before. This coupled with the fact that tonight was really Feilhaber's time to shine. Although, I have to say, his penalty taking technique was great to watch. Sanchez had no idea what was happening to him.

Dempsey - 6
Dempsey is one of a small group of Americans who can come up with a crucial touch with no space to work, but that doesn't excuse the fact that he doesn't defend in any significant fashion nor does he have a nose for goal. He wasn't dampening the offense, but he wasn't exactly Greased Lightning either.

Ching - 7
I'm sure a lot of people would rate him worse, but both he and Twellman proved to me tonight that as veteran strikers, they still serve a purpose in the U.S. squad. Ching has more scrap in him than anyone else on the pitch and he can really damage the opposing defense with his back to the goal. I'm really sorry he bit the post on that one because it was great to see him fight off three green shirts and get the keeper Sanchez on his knees.


Simek - 6
Honestly, for his thirty minutes on the pitch, I really didn't see him do any better than Spector.

Rico Clark - 7
Ives says Clark and Feilhaber were establishing themselves as a nice tandem in midfield. I'd have to see the second half again but he certainly didn't hurt the US performance on the pitch.

Twellman - 6
He is at the very least a veteran striker, whether or not he has the goals to prove it. The simple fact that he was onsides to receive a random Bornstein clearance upfield is proof to me that he just might be the difference between a draw and a win one day. Plus, after Feilhaber scored, Twellman looked totally psyched to hit up that scoresheet. Keep on truckin, TayLor.

Refereeing - 8
Adequate refereeing, which, relative to CONCACAF, means it was well above the standard. Kept things from erupting between the rivals, which is no small feat, I'm sure. Certainly nothing to blatant as the Canada offsides.


Other notes, in no particular order:

-Donovan is still kissing his hands before games and penalty kicks. Very superstitious...

- Beasley is getting muscled, ergo nullified, by Mexico's def.; Mexico seems to be taking a cue from Canada.

- Through the 20th, Mexico's style of play seemed to consist of strong, hard touches to eat space, blinding speed onto throughballs to harass the wings, and voodoo magic to work the ball to the center. Worked like a charm, though not so soon or so often as they hoped.

- Hey, whaddya know: the midfield is pitching in on defense. Go USA!

- Mexico is damn good on the counterattack.

- I just realized: today was Feilhaber's first real test with the MNT. This one's for all the marbles. And damned if he didn't use this opportunity to make a name for himself, too.

- Regardless of Ching and Twellman's good qualities, the US is in DIRE need of an attacker who can finish with some level of consistency. We have no real scoring threat, save for Donovan every other game. Charlie Davies, if you're waiting for the opportunity to establish a dangerous reputation, Copa is it.

- Tim Howard is a beast and deserves everything Everton has to offer.

- Bornstein had a super hard shot in the first half that looked really great. It was a wicked rocket bullet that was only overshadowed by the cannon blast that loosed itself from Feilhaber's foot to win the game. Don't worry, Bornstein: I saw you do it.

-In contrast to the USA, Mexico's midfield is damned laggardly or even absent on defense.

- Learn to shoot, Dempsey.

- I'd like to see Onyewu connect with someone through a ground pass.

- Bradley needs to whip these guys into shape up top. What horrible finishing. Beasley, Ching, Twellman, Dempsey -- disappointing.

- Tim Howard is golden.

Congrats, Yanks. Tip of the hat to Bob Bradley. Thrilling performance. I look forward to the Copa to see what lies in the USMNT future.

Enjoy yourselves, boys.

It's Official

Benny Feilhaber has won a special place in my heart. Full match summary later tonight, after my date.

WTF? RSL pwns, 2-1

It seems everyone was right. We stumbled against RSL, same as last year. What a disappointment.

I should have read the omens better I guess.

I didn't see the game, but here's Fullback, Goff, DCenters, MLSnet, and just for kicks (and to remind myself that DCU still has a thing or two to learn about this game we call soccer) QuarterVolley's summary of why this result was totally predictable.