Monday, February 27, 2006

Where we are in 2006

So, to continue bring my reader(s) up to date on the United States Men's National Team, as they prepare for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, I will summarize the preparations thus far.

January 22nd: USA 0-0 Canada. I don't have much to say about this game. It wasn't on TV, so I didn't see it. I thought this was a very disappointing score line. Even at the beginnning of our preparations, I would have thought that we could score against Canada. Freddie Adu made his first international appearance, and became the youngest U.S. player to do so, at 16 years, 234 days. He came in during the 81st minute of a 90-minute game for an injured Eddie Johnson, and became the youngest American player to receive a yellow card for diving (16 years, 234 days). He was released from the training camp within the next two weeks.

January 29th: USA 5-0 Norway. This seems like a great result. It is the largest margin of victory the U.S. Men have ever had over a European opponent, and one of our forwards, Taylor Twellman, tallied the 9th ever hat trick for a U.S. player. Norway nearly qualified for the World Cup, having lost a two-game play-off with the Czech Republic just 6 weeks earlier. The U.S. plays the Czechs in their first game at the World Cup, so I initially thought this was an outstanding result. However, I did some research, and we played a totally different Norway team than the Czechs beat last December. Only one starter and one reserve from December's roster made the trip to California, and the rest of the team consisted primarily of younger, Under-23 players. So, concerning the present, there is not a whole lot you can take from this, but 25 or 30 years ago, it would not be at all surprising for an U-23 team such as this to beat our best team.

February 10th: USA 3-2 Japan. This was the home game I was waiting for! Japan was one of the final 16 teams last year, and I felt this team would offer us the best competion. The Japanese only brought over their domestic players, and their Brazilian coach, Zico, seemed to use this as an excuse, saying, "The biggest problem is we can't form our best team. Most of our players in Europe are not here right now." Well, Zico, we can make the same claim... Team USA consisted entirely of MLS players, save for the aforementioned Heath Pearce, who was a 90th minute sub in this game. Our team pretty much dominated for the first 65 minutes, and Taylor Twellman again figured prominently in the score line with two assists and a goal. He might be off the bubble with this performance. Japan pulled two goals back in the end, but U.S. Coach Bruce Arena was unconcerned, attributing the final score line to the many second half substitutes both teams used. In World Cup play, each team can only substitute 3 players, but in friendlies such as these, both teams usually agree to allow more. I didn't like the late goals, but if Coach Arena is unconcerned about them, I suppose I shouldn't be either.

Feburary 19th: USA 4-0 Guatemala. We beat this team pretty thoroughly. Guatemala is an opponent we know well, and most people thought they had a good chance of making the World Cup this year, because the CONCACAF region was alotted "three and a half" spots. The game was played at below freezing temperatures, with freezing rain falling, yet I don't think anyone expected a drastically different result. This game marked the debut of Team USA's new away jerseys, which look like throw-backs to about 10 years ago. I was looking forward to seeing the home whites, which pay homage to the historic 1950 World Cup team, who upset a powerful England team, 1-0.

Today, the U.S. team has arrived in Germany for their game against Poland, scheduled for March 1st, at 2:00 PM EST. I have arranged to be off of work so that I can watch the game on ESPN. We'll be recalling a number of our European-based players, so it's going to be a good one to watch. This game will be played in Kaiserslautern, Germany, and will take place in the same venue as Team USA's second World Cup game (against Italy). I think that it is really neat that we'll get to play a good team like Poland in the same stadium as we'll eventually play Italy. Kaiserslautern is home to tens of thousands of U.S. troops stationed overseas, so I hope the crowd comes out and supports the team.

In addition to our game against Poland, there are several other interesting match-ups that are scheduled to occur. Italy, Germany, and Argentina are three of the top seeds that will be seeing action this day.

Future games on the U.S. preparation schedule include another game in Germany, on March 22nd, against the German team, as well as a home game back in Cary, N.C., against Jamaica, on April 11th. We've also announced that we intend to play three other games in May, but the dates, locations, and opponents have not yet been determined.


At 08 March, 2006 06:29, Anonymous Euler said...

You are doing great work bringing Americans closer to what we like to call "the beautiful game".

It will be amazing when the sport catch USA's attention as much as on the rest of the world.

Your participation in our blog is fantastic! I hope you keep giving your opinion there and feel free to ask about any issue, ok?



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