Wednesday, March 22, 2006

USA vs. Germany

Post Game -- I would like to thank my reader(s) for checking out my account of the game.

90' -- Full time. USA 1-4 Germany. I hope Bruce Arena got a good look at certain players.

85' -- USA Goal. Well against the run of play. Kahn and Johnson went simultaneously went for a long thru ball played in by Cherundolo. Looked like neither touched it, and it wound up in the back of the net.

84' -- A replay of the last goal showed that Berhalter, while marking air, had a nice view of Ballack's header.

80' -- For only the second time this game, Oliver Kahn was tested. This time by Cherundolo. Kahn, of course, rose to the task.

79' -- Ballack gets on the score sheet. GOOOOOOOOL. He was right in the middle, and nobody picked him up.

78' -- Ben Olsen is on.

77' -- Pearce in for Gibbs, actually.

76' -- Heath Pearce shown warming up. Let me guess -- Ummm, Berhalter?

75' -- When it rains, it pours. Germany takes a bad pass from Berhalter, and, GOOOOOOL!

73' -- Oliver Neuville, as a sub, hit the upper-90 at the far post.

73' -- Berhalter makes a mistake that leads to a goal. GOOOOOOOL! Dang again. I hope we can pull one back before the end.

69' -- Is Eddie Johnson really very fast, like everyone says? In a foot race, I'd take DeMarcus Beasley. I'd take Landon Donovan. I'd take Steve Cherundolo. I might even take Bobby Convey over him...

67' -- Asamoah subbed out.

66' -- Nice save by Kahn off of an E.Johnson header from a free-kick well won by Convey. That Johnson could beat his man and put a strong header on goal speaks well of him.

64' -- To me, Klein looks like he might be in over his head.

60' -- Asamoah is going to do some damage this summer. Twellman in for Ching.

58' -- Shot of Taylor Twellman warming up...

55' -- Steve Cherundolo is going to be a joy to watch this summer. Not only that, he looks a lot like my brother-in-law.

51' -- Free kick well won, in a dangerous area. Was that Conrad? Convey takes a shot on goal that is really not a challenge for Oliver Kahn.

49' -- Cherundolo uses his speed to break up a German breakaway.

46' -- Germany, ever dangerous on set pieces, score. GOOOOOOOL! Dang.

HT -- Ghana cancels Friendly match with Iran. I wonder why. Also, Johnny O'B will most likely be going to play for an MLS club. Yay!

45' -- Halftime. USA 0-0 Germany.

43' -- Convey had a nice break-away -- I thought he was faster than that...

41' -- Berhalter does not seem to be having a good game, passing wise.

37' -- Free kick earned by Convey. Dangerous in-swinger by Cherundolo -- save required by Kahn.

33' -- Wasted free kick by Convey.

28' -- Caution to Zavagnin for a foul. I've seen many others get away with far worse.

24' -- Jimmy Conrad takes an open shot, and hits the outside netting at the near post. Is it me, or does German keeper Oliver Kahn look like Canadian rocker Bryan Adams?

20' -- Hopefully, we have weathered the early emotional storm of the German team.

16' -- Good work Pablo... didn't give up on the ball, won it back with a foul in deep. Also, Klein in for Wolff -- an unapparent injury must have occured.

12' -- Nice opportunity by Germany, set up by Ballack. Him and Asamoah are looking very good together early on. Meanwhile, we can't build any type of an attack.

10' -- Shot by Ching -- I think he spazzed -- looks like a pass would have served him better.

7' -- If we can't get it from the Keeper up to mid-field without losing possession, this is going to be a doubly long game.

6' -- If we can't dislodge the Germans of possession, this is going to be a long game.

3' -- Germany looks agressive, and are making opportunities in the air.

Pre-game... Ching and Wolff are both starting. One of these two will not make the team, and right now I'd say that would be Ching. Only bringing 4 forwards...

Pre-game... a 3-5-2? I always expect a 4-4-2 from a Bruce Arena team. In any event, as I said earlier, the defense is going to be busy.

Another Live Blog

Feel free, reader(s), to check out a much more widely read live-blog by Bob at the World Cup Blog.

The Challenges of LiveBlogging

Well, this should be fun. My only possible regret would be if I missed something happening on TV because I was looking at what I was typing...

I cn typ withour iooking, thow.

Vill Ve Vin zee Game?

Today is the day for the Friendly match in Germany against Germany.

I plan on having my computer fired up during the game. I might type something up here, or I might contribute over at the World Cup Blog, where site proctor Bob has announced that he will attempt to "live-blog" the game.

Germany is putting forth the best team it possibly can, and are looking to save face from the embarrassment at the feet of Italy on the first of this month. I'm not sure if Bruce Arena is looking more for a result, or if he is looking to evaluate certain players without much regard to the final score. The U.S. team is not the strongest it could be. I know Germany has some injuries, too, but since I am not that familiar with the team, there is really no way I can accurately compare the two teams' injuries.

I just know that the U.S. midfield seems to be very weak for this match. I expect our defense to be tested, and that is fine, because they really haven't been tested in any of our other Friendly matches so far this year. Based on who we have lined up for future Friendly matches (Jamaica, Morocco, Latvia, and Venezuala), they probably won't be tested again until June.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Venezuela it is...

Well, (possibly) in response to my below post, word has it that Team USA has chosen Venezuela to fill the opponent's role in the pentultimate Friendly match (full schedule here).

Venezuela? Is this a mistake from that World Baseball Classic thing going on?

I'm not sure if this game is going to show anyone anything. True, they are from South America, but they are not that good. Out of the 10 CONMEBOL teams, they are easily the 10th, and not very close to the ninth best team.

The next time they qualify for the FIFA World Cup Finals will be their first!

At least we get 3 games in a row in May, which will replicate the short amount of time between the World Cup games in June.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Line up the Friendlies

Rumor has it that Team USA will be playing Morocco as one of their three final preparation games in May. I guess more than a rumor, now, it will be the first of three International Friendly matches, and will be played on May 23rd, in Nashville, TN. I've also read that we might be playing Latvia in our final preparation game, on May 28th, in Hartford, CT.

The second game will be on May 26th, in Cleveland, but who will be the opponent?

Who would you like to see play the USA in a Friendly preparation match?

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Playin' Hookie

I have a request I'd like to pass along to my reader(s).

Help me come up with a viable excuse to get out of work on the afternoon of the 22nd, so that I can watch the Germany vs. USA game.

Thanks in advance...

Friday, March 03, 2006


I would like to ask my reader(s) about any ramifications they see coming out of the Poland victory.

Did we get the can't-win-in-Europe monkey off our backs? I would say that we haven't satisfactorily demonstrated that. Coach Arena is now 2-7-1 on European soil, with both wins coming against Poland. Poland is a solid team, but I think most would agree that it would not be hard to find at least a dozen European teams that are better than Poland. Evan FIFA agrees. So, unfortunately, I believe there is still more to prove. A decisive win against Germany would be a big step, and with Italy's result against them on March 1st, it certainly seems possible.

Most importantly to me was getting to know the venue where we will later play Italy. Hopefully, a few of the folks stationed at Ramstein Air Base got converted to the beautiful game.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

What matters

Bottom Line -- we got results. I would have liked to have seen more control through the midfield, and more build-ups on the offense, but if we are able to manage this same result against a European foe in June, we should be able to go through.

USA 1-0 Poland

Hello, again, reader(s). I took some hand-written notes as the game was being played, and below is my transcription of them. Occassionally, and regretfully, I missed out on something important, because I was writing about something that happened in the preceeding minute.

0' - A heated field?!? Neat! I'll leave the discussion of our starting XI to other individuals.

6' - Easy to tell this is much better competition than we've played so far this year. Poland offers less space and tighter marking.

12' - Poland is looking good against the run of play and on counter-attacks. Steve Cherundolo is looking really good. I don't get to see him play much, so maybe this is the way he normally looks.

19' - Poland seems to be playing the long ball. We can't really build anything; we need Claudio and/or Johnny O'B.

24' - ESPN commentator Marcel Balboa echoes: "USA is not controlling the middle -- they need Claudio Reyna." (paraphrasing)

27' - Landon Donovan and DeMarcus Beasley are both having quiet games so far.

32' - In-swingers from the flank into the box, off of set pieces, bring back nightmares of Michael Ballack at WC 2002. Poland just had one of these.

35' - Lots of our 1st touches are horrible, and are getting away from us -- control the ball!

38' - Nice centering pass by Poland... Psshewww...!

40' - Commentators mention that McBride "tweaked" a groin, and that is probably why Twellman got the nod.

42' - Another set-piece in-swinger... this one nabbed by Kasey Keller.

44' - Very nice free kick by Cherundolo!

45' - Did we just witness *negative* injury time? Half-time.

HT - To me, despite the scoreline, it has been a thoroughly enjoyable game. Both teams are fighting to control the middle, neither team is really able to build anything up, and all chances are rather isolated, or against the run of play. That being said, I would definitely say that Poland has had more opportunities, and better quality ones, as well.

HT - ESPN segment focusing on Steve Cherundolo. He looks like my brother-in-law.

HT - Commercial break... What is Eric Cantona doing?

46' - Back to action. Howard in for Keller at keeper, and Bocanegra in for Berhalter on defense.

48' - Goal! Goooooaaaaaaallllll... Clint Dempsey plays the far-post garbage man, and puts one by Poland's subbed-in keeper. I was getting my food out of the microwave, but someone crossed it in, and it looked like the keeper tried to punch it, and Twellman got his head on it and pushed is toward the far post. Dempsey didn't give up on the ball, and beat his defender to forehead-punch it into the back of the net. Did Dempsey just salute the American crowd?

49' - Replay shows he did salute the crowd, along with Eddie Johnson and Taylor Twellman -- tip of my cap to those guys for recognizing the U.S. Military in the crowd.

53' - I just realized a couple of things. First, we are winning against a European team in Europe(!). Second, Team USA has looked good right after halftime in every game I've seen them in so far this year.

55' - Mastroeni in for Zavagnin.

58' - Bocanegra gets a card. I've seen worse, but these German referees have done a fine job today.

67' - Big snow.

71' - Convey on for Beasley. Bease didn't really do anything -- I was looking forward to seeing him light up the left side.

73' - Big, big snow. I hope we don't pack it in -- we've got to keep pressing.

76' - Good point by Marcel -- in the World Cup, you've got to be able to win 1-0. Sometimes the most obvious points wind up being under-stated.

77' - Onyewu is getting a lot of praise for using his upper body, but he makes me nervous with all the clutching and grabbing. Before the game, they showed a little highlight reel of him defending, and he was putting a few guys in a half-nelson. I'm afraid some referees are going to call that at the most inopportune times.

78' - Big, big, big snow. It is announced that the game balls are going to be changed from a white ball to a yellow ball, so that the players can better see it on the snow-covered field.

79' - Wolff in for Johnson. Johnson had a quiet game. I'm not a big Josh Wolff fan, but I'm hoping he can do better.

80' - The yellow ball is now being used.

85' - It's a shame about the weather and the field conditions. I know both teams are playing under the same weather & field conditions, but I was hoping for something closer to optimal conditions. I hope no one gets hurt as a result of the snow.

87' - I agree with the announcers, in that Poland can't build, and is not able to create many chances. The USA looked much better this half.

89' - Klein in for Dempsey. Why?

90' - Again, very little injury time. USA 1-0 Poland. Yay!

As you wish...

Continuing the train of thought for my reader(s), I have taken all the qualified teams, and placed them in groups according to their FIFA rankings (latest as of February). Below are the teams, with their "seed" in parenthesis, and reading across should provide you with the 8 groups. Teams such as Turkey, who are ranked in FIFA's top 32 teams, but didn't qualify for the World Cup Finals, are omitted, and the teams below them are moved up a spot.

Group A: BRA (1), TUN (16), CRO (17), ANG (32)
Group B: CZE (2), IRN (15), CRC (18), TOG (31)
Group C: NED (3), GER (14), POL (19), TRI (30)
Group D: ARG (4), JPN (13), KOR (20), AUS (29)
Group E: FRA (5), SWE (12), CIV (21), GHA (28)
Group F: ESP (6), ITA (11), PAR (22), SCG (27)
Group G: MEX (7), POR (10), KSA (23), UKR (26)
Group H: USA (8), ENG (9), SUI (24), ECU (25)

Wow. To me, this looks pretty balanced. Three European teams in C and F. None in Group D. Two African teams each in A & E. Group of Death looks to be in E.

If my reader(s) would like to provide comments, I'd be interested in reading them.

Grouping according to FIFA rankings

Back in December, amid much pomp and circumstance, FIFA put a show on to determine the groups for this summer's World Cup. In my opinion, it was a rather convoluted process, with pools and pots and seeds, and even a special "group" of teams that only had one team in it.

The goal was to try and achieve a regional balance to the groups. That means that no more than two European teams would be in any one group. The cynic in me believes that FIFA President Sepp Blatter, from Switzerland, and the FIFA Organization, based in Europe, decided to spread out the European teams so that there's a better chance to see more European teams in the knock-out stages. If you put 3 or 4 European teams in one group, then of course you can write off one or two of those teams right off the bat, because only 2 teams from each group will move on to the single-elimination, 16-team second-round knock-out phase.

Of course, as a CONCACAF fan, I wouldn't really like to see the USA, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Trinidad & Tobago placed in the same group, even though it would afford us an excellent chance to go through.

I wonder what the groups would look like if they were straight seeded according to the FIFA rankings...

The Bad News: No Kazakhstan to Pad our Totals

The United States Men's National Team is 1-7-1 under Bruce Arena on European soil.

The United States Olympic Hockey Team went 1-4-1 in the 2006 Olympics, in Turin, Italy. That's right, I said Turin. If you go around saying "Torino," then, to be consistant, you also need to always call the national capital, "Roma," and you also need to call the country, "Italia."

Anyways, our lone win in hockey came against the largest land-locked nation on the face of the planet. Whoop-de-dam-doo.

Coach Arena's lone win on European soil came against Poland. So we've got that going for us, which is nice.

Needless to say, if we can't beat European teams in Europe, we'll never advance out of our group stage. Because just about every single group has at least two European teams in it, and since some country in Europe will be hosting the World Cup every 8 to 12 years...

Maybe we can lobby for Kazakhstan to be allowed into the European union.