Monday, September 10, 2007

How about a nice round of applause for the nats!

Another excellent sports weekend—the type that, if you’re not careful, can lead one to cease all contact with the world outside one’s living room. Good college football weekend with both Notre Dame and Michigan losing again. But, most enjoyably, what a surprisingly lively friendly between the US and Brazil!

My viewing was occasionally disrupted by my having to check on the beef daube simmering on the stove, so I think I will have to rewatch the game this week to double-check my impressions. Nevertheless, my (initial) impressions, in no particular order:

1. I loved the aggressive play of the US, and, really, why not in a friendly?

2. Looked to me like Gooch left his man wide open for Brazil’s second goal right after the half. If so, add that to the own goal, and not a good day for Onyewu. I’ll have to go back and review that goal, but sure seemed like Gooch had the responsibility for marking Lucio.

3. Those blunders aside, I think the back line played well. Pearce got stronger as the game wore on, and Boca and Cherundolo were superb. (Also not sure about the foul by Bocanegra that led to Ronaldinho’s set-piece goal—I’ll see if that is clearer upon a reviewing.) I like Spector, but it was nice having a natural left-back in the game.

4. Was it just me, or was the television production poor, even by usual ESPN standards? I don’t believe the announcers ever told us who Convey came in for; it took me a few minutes to deduce that Benny was the guy subbed out. Also, no replay of the iffy foul that led to Brazil’s third goal?! And little replay of the Wolff non-call?! Not a banner day for the ESPN crew.

5. Speaking of Wolff, I think his start tells us that Bradley has no allusions about Eddie Johnson’s potential on the national stage. I think EJ is worthy of a sub role, but was glad to see that he didn’t get another start to demonstrate his timidness. Was Wolff the right answer? No, but why not give him a shot. He did almost draw a penalty. (Aside: I think Bob will groom Jozy over the next year or two. Why? Quoth the coach: "If you look at the box score last week, he wasn't in the 18," said Bradley, alluding to a leg injury that has sidelined Altidore. "In so many of these situations, form, injury, schedule -- all these things get factored in."Certainly we're excited about what we see as a young player in the league. He has done well for himself. I think we've shown this year that we are constantly looking for the right moment to bring young guys into the national team." )

6. Leaving aside Bradley’s horrendously stupid tackle that led to the penalty, the starting midfield held their own better than I was expecting. Donovan and Beasley were great on the wings and looked like veteran leaders. They also made some great covering runs on D. Bradley was solid (save for that bone-headed tackle), and, considering his fitness, I thought Benny played okay. It was an auspicious showing all around.

7. Frankly, Bobby Convey looked bad in his sub role. Maybe it’s just rust, but his vision and decision-making were just not good. I think after this, he should have to re-earn his selection spot through his Reading play.

8. If you can't say anything about the ref that's nice, best not to talk at all, that' s my advice.

All for now. More after my reviewing! In the meantime, thoughts, ideas, rants or ravings?


Jester said...

I saw the first half of that game and I also thought our guys did very well. Naturally, the Brazilians' technical skills totally outclassed ours, but in that resepect, they outclass everyone. My biggest disappointment was the number of giveaway passes to nowhere and no one--at least, no one wearing a US jersey. How does that happen?

Scotto said...

Part of it is probably due to the fact that these guys don't play together week in and week out. Much of the top-rate passing seen in the best leagues relies on knowing where your teammates are supposed to be or where you know they will be. some of those passes were passes to space, where, the passer's assumption probably was that there would be someone running in to that space.
Others were probably panicky and overly hopeful.

I understand that Bradley is not a huge structure guy as a coach, and allows a more free-flowing style. That could also contribute--As could the energy being expended playing D on Brazil.