June 12, 2006

US Stumbles Out of the Gates: The United States soccer team has a dissapointing World Cup opener, losing 0-3 against the Czech Republic.

posted by NightingalesGone to soccer at 05:09 PM - 69 comments

Stumbles is far too kind.

posted by igottheblues at 05:18 PM on June 12, 2006

This game was embarassing, it looked like none of the Americans wanted to be there. Where was the leadership from Donovan and Reyna. Beasley was no where to be found the entire game. Now that they are expected to be good they go and hide?? The lone bright spot was when Eddie Johnson came into the game. He deserves to start the next game due to his performance today.

posted by TheKid24 at 05:25 PM on June 12, 2006

I had a small bet on 1-1, so I was expecting more. The entire US midfield was terrible. No depth, no drive. I was impressed by Onyewu in defence (never even heard of him before), but he was pretty much the only player worth praising. The Czechs, on the other hand, wow. Arsenal only paid 7 million for Rosicky, how the hell does Wenger do it?! I've never been a big fan of Nedved either, but he was superb today.

posted by afx237vi at 05:36 PM on June 12, 2006

Renya was decent, but wasn't at the top of his game. Donovan and Beasley were absent. Convey looked like he had the right idea and had good intensity, but lacked the skill to do anything with it. With Italy beating Ghana, we now really need to beat Italy to guarantee us moving on. We were caught flat-footed and I completely disagree with Bruce Arena's finger pointing at the press conference afterwards. Seems almost amateurish to be calling your players out like that in public.

posted by v3rity at 05:57 PM on June 12, 2006

Wow, that makes me feel better about England's performance. If the US had a gameplan, I'd like to know what it was.

posted by etagloh at 06:05 PM on June 12, 2006

*coughs politely* Still, I guess when FIFA's #5 plays FIFA's #2 the difference should be three goals. The US aren't out yet, but they have to beat Italy now, or they're in a world of trouble.

posted by Mr Bismarck at 06:11 PM on June 12, 2006

Team USA has suffered long enough under the inept leadership of Bruce Arena. To show up with this team totally unprepared for the opening game of the World Cup is inexcusable. He needs to be fired immediately, this evening if possible. 0-8 in European World Cup play is more than enough. The only way to proceed from here is to shake this team up to its core. Arena must go.... if he had an ounce of class he would resign effective immediately.

posted by skydivedad at 06:11 PM on June 12, 2006

Anybody that knows soccer, internationally, saw this coming. Against The Szech, the #2 ranked team, come on. The U.S was overconfident the whole time leading up to the cup, sure they can beat south american teams alright, but they still cant hang with experienced european vets.

posted by ChicagoPlayer01 at 06:15 PM on June 12, 2006

I am far from an expert, but I find myself continually frustrated by the USMNT's inability to control the ball against European sides. While our opponents seem to move the ball around with purpose, we are lucky just to get an offensive chance with our atrocious dribbling and passing. My head almost exploded when the US passed the ball back towards their own goal for the 10,000th time. It also doesn't help that we lack a brilliant striker to finish any chances that do arise. However, I would like to say that being ousted after the first round of the WC final is hardly a monstrous shame - far more illustrious footballing nations have suffered the same fate in recent Cups. Nevertheless, the US team has got to pick up their game for the next two matches or risk undermining the momentum they created in '02.

posted by Venicemenace at 06:17 PM on June 12, 2006

It was as bad as it could have been and much worse than I expected. And we seem to be plumb out of razors. Italy must be licking their chops.

posted by Texan_lost_in_NY at 06:38 PM on June 12, 2006

It was about what I expected. The difference between the core of solid teams (Mexico/Sweden/USA etc) and the teams that go far in these tournaments is exactly that, Texan; a razor - someone who can cut through the opposition. Facing a team like the Czechs with Nedved, Rosicky and even Poborsky, you're consistently one mistake away from losing a goal, because they have players who have the individual talent to undo the opposition. If I'm perfectly honest, even England don't really have that. Unfortunately for the US, Francesco Totti looks to be on form too, which will leave you to deal with another one, another "razor", in a game where you have to push forward. I still see a three and out for the US.

posted by Mr Bismarck at 06:58 PM on June 12, 2006

What a great day of football though. The Japan Australia game was thrilling. The Czechs were superb at times. I wish I'd watched more Italian football as Nedved is clearly a genius. And then the Italy Ghana game was utterly engrossing.

posted by squealy at 07:11 PM on June 12, 2006

Count me among those that didn't expect a win today, but I did expect them to show up and play hard. Wow. Gutless. Arena was right to call them out. These guys aren't kids anymore. They are highly trained and paid (in their respective club leagues). If they are not mentally ready to go by the opening kickoff, that's on them, not the coach. Now on tactics, I agree with you. We saw little of it today, but even when it's clicking the USA still plays a patently uncreative brand of offense and has since Arena took over. Purposeless passing, and little imagination and the odd cross over the middle to Brian McBride. Bora Milutinovic did far more with far less talent.

posted by psmealey at 07:17 PM on June 12, 2006

Bruce Arena has excelled at every level of coaching (4 straight NCAA titles at Virginia, a couple titles with DC United in MLS and now has brought the USMNT a long way with a very decent record). But why the hell was Beasley not playing on the right in his comfort zone. I will chalk Beasleys performance up to tactics, and am also wondering why O'Brien didn't start (not that he did anything outstanding) but I can't say the same for the rest of the team. Donovan: nowhere to be seen. McBride: maybe the victim of the midfield play. Reyna: quiet as usual and still solid, but not up to his standards. Marking was horrible. Rosicky was given way too much room for the long range goal he scored and the one he hit off the post. Bad defending on the through ball he scored on too. Nobody marked Killer on his goal....I AM SO FRUSTRATED. What may make me feel even worse is I saw Ghana play some pretty good football and if we play the same way against them and Italy, it will be a repeat of 98.

posted by Ricardo at 07:52 PM on June 12, 2006

Did anyone catch Alexi Lalas saying Kasey Keller was the #1 goalie at this Cup? Everyone in the SpoFi chat was laughing their butts off when we heard that. Later during the Italy match, the commentators tried to cover up for that when they mentioned that the Italian goalie is probably the second best goalie out there, and Keller "is in conversation... Maybe Top 5... Top 10... Top 5 - Top 10"

posted by riffola at 08:01 PM on June 12, 2006

As much as i hate to admit it but the americans are way overrated they just played a much better team and it showed.

posted by skins fan at 08:14 PM on June 12, 2006

The Japan Australia game was thrilling Yeah, and I'm kind of glad that the US wasn't on the bottom in that one.

posted by Smackfu at 09:07 PM on June 12, 2006

Stumbled, my ass! We lost more FIFA "teeth" in this than Roethlisberger!!! Coach spent WAY too much time worrying about protocol and history in picking this squad. Taylor Twellman, "Mr. MSL MVP" can't make the cut? The "NO 'O' highlight is Reyna's post? Oh, and Bruce, when you place the wake-up call for the Ghana match, PLEASE make certain that Donnie gets his at least an hour earlier...Sleepwalking in the World Show is bad form!!!

posted by wolfdad at 09:08 PM on June 12, 2006

DAMN the Czechs are talented--they sure looked like a #2 ranked team. Ricardo may be right--Italy's another Cup hopeful; and Ghana's no joke either. *would like to pin this loss on George Bush's pre-game pep talk*

posted by curtangle at 09:15 PM on June 12, 2006

I agree that the U.S. had no intensity. Even when two of the the Czech's players were injured (one came beack into the game) the U.S could barely get close enought to even see the goal. Very disapointing! i do however like when Bruce Arena called out players like Landon Donovan and Marcus Beasly because they deserve it. Landon keeps talking about how everyone needs to believe but it seemed like he didnt today. The U.S. should be thankful if they keep playing like they did today and even advance to the second round

posted by bronxbomber at 09:31 PM on June 12, 2006

*would like to pin this loss on George Bush's pre-game pep talk* I think you might be on to something with this one. At this point it's probably the best anwser we have to today's piss poor preformance.

posted by NightingalesGone at 09:32 PM on June 12, 2006

*would like to pin this loss on George Bush's pre-game pep talk* I think you might be on to something with this one. Our boys certainly played like it was "Mission Accomplished."

posted by Texan_lost_in_NY at 10:30 PM on June 12, 2006

I'm sure they were told to stay the course. Then when the audio link was suppose to cut, it didn't, and Bush said something like "So when are the Rangers playing, Rummy?"

posted by igottheblues at 10:58 PM on June 12, 2006

I really enjoy everyone citing the FIFA Rankings as if they were an accurate portrayal of a team's ability. Everytime a FIFA sanctioned game is played, both teams will accumulate points. Rarely does a team lose points for losing a match, so in most cases, a team can actually improve their standing by playing in a game and losing rather than not playing in a game at all. Which is why mediocre Mexico and USA are ranked ahead of powerhouses Portugal, England and Argentina. While the Czech's are FIFA ranked #2 and they are very talented, I wouldn't put them in my personal Top 5 to win the cup this year.

posted by v3rity at 11:19 PM on June 12, 2006

Me I would put the Czechs in my top five even before todays performance. I wouldnt change my top 4 because team USA sucks.

posted by skins fan at 12:55 AM on June 13, 2006

I think we Americans are making a big deal about rankings because for whatever reason we feel we have to quantify everything. Be it preseason college football or FIFA rankings, we MUST have our largely worthless statistics organized so we know who belongs in which slot at what time. We make a huge deal out of where Duke gets seeded in the NCAA Tournament bracket. ESPN even does MLB and NFL Power Ratings.

posted by igottheblues at 03:21 AM on June 13, 2006

Sung to the tune of "Three Lions" "They're going home, they're going home, they're going, Yanks are going home..."

posted by Drood at 03:27 AM on June 13, 2006

I took a lot of crap here last week when I dared to suggest that the result will be the same as when these two teams met the last time. Some nut told me that this is a different time. The rating was bought by Coca-Cola. I dare to suggest now that the US may not even get a goal. They walked around with a chip, saying that the Czech are slow and old. But the players were just repeating what they were being fed.

posted by Mr C at 03:29 AM on June 13, 2006

All our commentators here in Ireland were very disappointed by the way the US played. We know that they aren't the most talented side in the competition, but at least they could try. The players seemed to be defeated half way through the game and walked around without really trying. And watching the US manager sitting around with his hands behind his head as though he hadn't a care in the world, not very inspiring.

posted by Fence at 03:30 AM on June 13, 2006

USA can play better than that. But really, the problem wasn't with the coaching or the formation. The problem is that the Czech Republic have much much better players. Italy impressed the hell out of me. For USA to win that one would be some achievement.

posted by salmacis at 05:37 AM on June 13, 2006

Team USA severely disappointed me; the impression that they gave was amateruish to put it politely (less politely - my grandmother can pass better than that.) Italy - The first goal was orgasmic, not just because it was a beautiful kick from Pirlo (and nice ducking by Gilardino), but because you could almost feel the entire nation exhale and think "Ok, we can put calciopoly behind us" Of course come the second half, some mutterings of "Porco dio, they're making us bite our nails over Ghana?!" could be heard. Italian fans - "Yes we won but [insert lateset tempest in a teapot here]." Ghana played very well and I was left wondering why Appiah didn't play like that with Juve. For Italy-USA I hope the former doesn't rest on their laurels and the latter pick up the pace a bit.

posted by romakimmy at 06:11 AM on June 13, 2006

Czech Rep looked very good, but it's easy to look good against a team giving you time on the ball and space into which you can play it. The USA looked like I expected them to - confused and a bit miffed. The most notable thing about this World Cup so far for me has been the standard of play in general - it's just so much better than we all watch week-in, week-out in any of the top leagues in the world. The USA looked to me a bit like they weren't expecting that (despite having been to the finals plenty of times now). In an age where most teams in the European leagues have numerous different nationalities playing for them, it makes a notable difference to have a team that all speak the same language and come from the same culture. It also makes a difference to have them playing for a cause rather than to try and increase their worth. I'm not saying you can't increase your worth by having a good World Cup, but compared to the league systems, this is one month where it's more about the football than anything else. In that respect, the standard should only improve. I thought the Czech's looked excellent, but the Italians looked like winners. They held on to the ball until they saw a gap and threaded some lovely balls forward - it's a style of play that people describe as boring, but really it's smart, especially in the heat. Ghana weren't great, but they played with a lot of heart and struggled to the bitter end. I'm sorry to say it, and for some reason I hope I'm wrong, but I can't see the US getting even so much as a point from Italy or Ghana.

posted by JJ at 06:58 AM on June 13, 2006

Both Ghana and the Aussies looked a good degree better than the Americans yesterday. It's sad to say, but obviously the truth.

posted by 86 at 07:16 AM on June 13, 2006

As a Casual fan, I know very little about Soccer. That said, I still agree those whose say that US Soccer is at a different level that in the past, and there is still a good chance of advancing in the Tourney. Or course, I dont know what I am talking about. :-)

posted by daddisamm at 08:24 AM on June 13, 2006

86 is right. I don't have a problem with the U.S. losing. My problem is they quit on the field. And their coach had no plan B.

posted by trox at 08:50 AM on June 13, 2006

My question is why nobody is questioning Arena's lineup - move Beasley to the right to accommodate Convey on the left, Donovan to forward, Mastroeni to midfield? Did all this gerrymandering have anything to do with the obvious mental discombobulation apparent in the team? The loss of Heyduk at right back didn't help. In any event, the degree of improvement necessary to even compete against Italy is so enormous I personally can't imagine it occurring in 5 days. The US were so bad at the very fundamentals of the game that a discussion of tactics, creativity, etc. is virtually irrelevant. What a dissapointment - 3 & out; wait until 2010! Am I a realist or simply defeatist?

posted by manics21 at 09:14 AM on June 13, 2006

"You need a montage (montage)"

posted by JJ at 09:41 AM on June 13, 2006

Tough group. USA don't have much in the way of true strikers, and Reyna never plays as calmly for country as he does for club. Bruce Arena is one of the winningest coaches in soccer history (if you count trophies), but history ain't helping now. Donovan wilting is no surprise; I expected more from Beasley. They looked tired out there; maybe they stayed up too late the night before. All credit to the Czechs, whom I expect to top this group on their way to the semis. Italy and Ghana look more of a challenge than ever. Not insurmountable, but steep.

posted by Hugh Janus at 12:45 PM on June 13, 2006

My question is why nobody is questioning Arena's lineup People are questioning him, but Arena is well more qualified than any of us... so that's that! You can't make chicken soup out of chicken sh*t !!!! I can't blame Arena for the outcome!

posted by zippinglou at 12:47 PM on June 13, 2006

I can. Part of his job includes preparation and motivation of the players, and the US side was sorely lacking in both. It's like they'd spent the last two weeks sitting on a beach somewhere instead of practicing and preparing for the biggest matches of their lives. That part of the US' suckage can be placed squarely at Arena's feet. The rest can be spread around the midfield like a nice thick layer of fertilizer.

posted by chicobangs at 01:31 PM on June 13, 2006

Hang on, I thought all soccer games ended up nil nil? ;-)

posted by walrus at 01:32 PM on June 13, 2006

Only the scoreless draws do.

posted by Hugh Janus at 02:10 PM on June 13, 2006

Did anyone expect a different outcome? There is no way USA is ranked #5. I am expecting an exit at the group stage. Americans should stick to their kind of football. Go England!!

posted by Goyoucolts at 03:03 PM on June 13, 2006

Quite a few teams exit at the group stage. Who knows, maybe even England will. Would you suggest that all sixteen teams who don't make it hang up their boots?

posted by Hugh Janus at 03:07 PM on June 13, 2006

I think they should. There should only be three or four national teams at most; Brazil, Holland, Ivory Coast and, what the hell, Montserrat or someplace. Everyone else should dissolve their national programs and use that money to fund offshore drilling or cigarettes for kids or paving highways with cheese or building roboparts for Brett Favre or better hairstyles for old people or something.

posted by chicobangs at 03:50 PM on June 13, 2006

Like nobody almost never says, "Quitters never have to lose again."

posted by garfield at 03:56 PM on June 13, 2006

garf, that is inspired. A new mantra. Thanks, bub.

posted by Samsonov14 at 05:21 PM on June 13, 2006

If you're not as talented as the other team, you've got to tackle harder, work harder and play like your lives depended on it. Exhibit A: Trinida and Tobago vs sweden Exhibit B: Australia vs Japan It also needs a coach who is prepared to make risky decisions when he has to. Arena said before the WC draw that the 'easy teams' in the tournament included Australia and T&T. After one round of matches: Australia 3 pts, T&T 1 pt, USA 0 pts.

posted by owlhouse at 06:00 PM on June 13, 2006

I wouldn't be so quick to criticize the US and yell "Go England!" in the same post colts. The English looked a sorry lot themselves. Had they played that way against the Czechs, I don't doubt for a second the score wouldn't have been any different.

posted by Ricardo at 08:09 PM on June 13, 2006

I'd agree that England didn't look too classy in the second half, but you'll often find that the bigger the team the slower they start. They know that they'll have plenty of games to come, or at least, they hope they will.

posted by Fence at 05:06 AM on June 14, 2006

It might be worthwhile to re-examine why there was reason to feel so optimistic. In 2002, they came out strong in the first half against a very over-confident and disorganized Portuguese side and went up 3-0. They just barely held on defensively to eke out a 3-2 win. Some stunning efforts to run out the clock (notably from Cobi Jones), but mostly a very, very lucky win against a sleeping giant. In the second game against Korea, other than an uncharacteristically elegant (for an American) strike from Clint Mathis, they again played their plodding style, and managed a 1-1 draw. In the third game vs. Poland, they were utterly overmatched and outclassed. In the round of sixteen, they beat a team in Mexico whom they have played almost as many times as they have scrimmaged each other, and they happen match up fairly well against athletically. A solid, if unspectacular win. Finally, against Germany, they played a spirited match, but couldn't manage a goal. Now maybe the US has improved in the past 12 years, but against the Czechs they looked like pretty much the same team that went out dead last in France98. I am hoping they can at least show some fire and focus against Italy, though I don't expect a win.

posted by psmealey at 06:33 AM on June 14, 2006

Another reason to feel optimistic is that a country that thrives on stats for its sports kept seeing a big shiny "5" in the world rankings issued by FIFA. I've lost count of the number of times I've had that number quoted at me by folks on various sites when I claimed the US were three-and-out in this tournament. I've also pointed out that the US only won two games in 2002, only to have the #5 batted back at me again. Sepp Blatter has a lot to answer for.

posted by Mr Bismarck at 07:36 AM on June 14, 2006

That's kind of what I was getting at, Mr. B. I think that, other than for a lucky 40 minute stretch against Portugal and an uncharacteristically elegant goal vs. Korea, the US would have been three and out in 2002, just like they were in 1998, and just as they in all probability will be in 2006. I think all the optimism about the US team in 2006 has been, for lack of a better expression "irrational exuberance".

posted by psmealey at 07:53 AM on June 14, 2006

Here's the dumbest thing about the FIFA rankings (in my opinion, anyway). Even FIFA, who makes the rankings, doesn't think that the US is truly #5. If they really did, then the US would have been one of the top seeds when FIFA made the groups for the world cup.

posted by blarp at 01:00 PM on June 14, 2006

I know we barely squeaked through the first round in 2002. But you can't discount the wins against Portugal and Mexico...They were fantastic matches and the tie was against non-powerhouse but nonetheless semi-finalists Korea. The only real stumble in the tournament was Poland. We deserved way more than we got in the Germany game. Do I think we're the #5 team in the world....of course not. I was still overly optimistic coming in thinking if we could just win one of the games against the two powerhouses in the group, then we had a chance. My optimism was tattered not by the loss itself but by the absolute one-sidedness of it. I don't think that was the true US team, just like I don't believe the true England team showed up. I do still hold a shred of optimism but it is WAY smaller than it was before mondays debacle.

posted by Ricardo at 10:04 PM on June 14, 2006

I don't think that was the true US team... The players on the pitch showed they didn't have the mental toughness to overcome the early goal. They were rocked back on their heels and never had the belief to recover...and it all started with Keller trying to forge a breakaway while 9 teammates were within 25 yards of his own goal. After the Koeller header you rarely saw the Czech back four cross the halfway line and they defended very deep, completely wiping out our speed. And on too many occassions....Convey, Beasley, Donovan...if they didn't beat their man the first time, that was it; they didn't have the balls to go at them again. I finally had the stomach to watch the game again in hopes that it wasn't as bad as it seemed live. It was. Bad. But I think with 3 or 4 key changes, including Donovan and Beasley, it's possible....only just...to get something out of the game Saturday. Of course I'm being ridiculously optimistic, but I'm not quite ready to live in the real world. I think Dempsey and Johnson have to start. I think Lewis should move up to left wing to replace Convey and Bocanegra come in at left back. We also have to find a place for Wolff's pace...maybe Dempsey in behind Johnson and McBride with Wolff out on the right. And...yep, I'm saying it...I think Mastroeni should be given the holding role in place of Reyna. He should man-mark Totti and take him out of the game, which he can do. Claudio Reyna has done a lot for his country but he has no sense of urgency, no fire when he wears the badge; he just plods along and the rest of the team follows suit. Beasley and Donovan need to watch a big game from the bench. I think embarrassment may be the most effective motivational tools for their massive egos. This ain't the U-17 World Championships, boys. This is the real deal. Grow up and be men. What happened Monday requires big changes to see a different outcome, and even that may not be enough. I just hope Arena has big enough balls to ruffle some all-too-comfortable feathers.

posted by Texan_lost_in_NY at 11:10 PM on June 14, 2006

"I think Mastroeni should be given the holding role in place of Reyna. He should man-mark Totti and take him out of the game, which he can do." I hope there's hidden emphasis on the word "can" there, Texan, because I'd bet Totti faces defenders and defensive midfielders who are twice the player Mastroeni is, week in, week out, who try and do just that and fail as often as not.

posted by Mr Bismarck at 07:47 AM on June 15, 2006

You're right, Mr. Bismark. But given a single-minded task, I believe Pablo can do it. Of course, I wouldn't be saying that if Totti was in top form, which I don't believe he is.

posted by Texan_lost_in_NY at 10:53 AM on June 15, 2006

Fence is correct, just because England played crap against two of the small fry of the footballing world does not mean that they will not do well this year. I think that the real test will be against their opponent in the match of sixteen. They could also show up against Sweden, but as they have clinched a spot in the next round this may not happen. I really don't think you can use last year as a measuring stick for this years US team. There have been some changes in the lineup and I just don't think that they have the drive to win that teams like Brazil and Germany display.

posted by Goyoucolts at 12:19 AM on June 16, 2006

England would've run rings around the US, crap or not. I don't know what else to say about the US except... find someone willing to run at the defence, someone willing to get hacked down. In fact, find two. OK, three. Also, try to string more than two passes together. And oh, yeah, if you're going to mark someone, really, do follow him. One more thing, get a better plan than lofting the ball into the box at your lone striker. Even the EPL (and England) realize that's not a good idea in the long run, even when you have a giraffe for a striker. Holy shit, that match was painful to watch. The only things palatable were the Czechs' play and Rosicky's goals. SCHOOLED.

posted by worldcup2002 at 01:58 AM on June 16, 2006

i was happy to prove my american friends wrong during the USA vs Czechs game on Monday!america you were duped to believe that you guys have the #5 soccer team in the world!stop trusting the media or FIFA and start facing reality man!remember?the media?hello!bad bad!ahahahahaha!!oh well,at least i had fun laughing at how bad the USA team was!yea go ahead and have more faith in the team americans.but let me warn you:faith kills!heed the warning! =)

posted by plab at 05:00 PM on June 16, 2006

American "friends" is probably the wrong term, given your attitude.

posted by squealy at 06:05 PM on June 16, 2006

Someone needs to make a pot of coffee for plab, me thinks. At the very least, someone take his keys away.

posted by psmealey at 10:35 AM on June 17, 2006

Or tie his jacket back on again.

posted by Mr Bismarck at 11:09 AM on June 17, 2006

At least he's popped in to let us know there are still simpletons behind the gate.

posted by Texan_lost_in_NY at 12:22 PM on June 17, 2006

And now he looks like ever more of an ass after the great football we played today.

posted by Ricardo at 08:33 PM on June 17, 2006

Funny but I don't think even the most rabid American supporter on SpoFi (perhaps me in this regard) would claim to take the 5 seriously.

posted by billsaysthis at 09:20 PM on June 17, 2006

Funny but I don't think even the most rabid American supporter on SpoFi (perhaps me in this regard) would claim to take the 5 seriously.... I don't think anyone has, bill. Not once have any of us brought up the ranking as something we believe or use as a foundation for support.

posted by Texan_lost_in_NY at 11:35 PM on June 17, 2006

well goodbye america.

posted by plab at 07:21 PM on June 22, 2006

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