23 June 2009

What’s the penalty for treason these days?

I readily admit it. I’m not a huge fan of the US national team. I’ll watch more often than not. I even hope they win more often than not. But I’m usually watching their games with a wry, detached smile.

And yet, I’ve still written about the team on occasion. The most recent post under that tag is from the Spain-US match a year ago, and I wrote about that because I was rooting for Spain in the Euros. The preceding post argues that Bob Bradley should have had his interim tag removed after the 2-0 win over Mexico. After two-thirds of Sunday’s win over Egypt, I was sure Bradley was getting sacked. So, yeah, my insights into US soccer aren’t always on target.

Chances are I’ll have to catch tomorrow’s match on DVR later in the evening, but I’ll probably review the match. Because of the large Liverpool contingent, Spain’s one of the international teams I actually pay close attention to, along with England (guilty secret – my first love in football, since Italia 90, although the more I’ve followed Liverpool, the less I’ve cared about Ingerlund) and Holland (the 1974 World Cup team. That is all.). And yes, I am American; even though I’m a US soccer agnostic, I still can’t hate the national team.

Plus, the way the US backed into the knockout stage of the Confederations Cup was delicious, and another example of why this game’s so great. The US, outside of the first half against Italy before capitulating have gone down to ten men, were absolutely dire in their first two matches. Dempsey looked tired and uninterested after a long season with Fulham. Beasley is a shadow of the player he was three years ago. Red cards have led to an unsettled midfield; only Michael Bradley has come close to establishing himself. And I can’t put it better than Unprofessional Foul did yesterday:

I would say that a goal on Father's Day for the 2nd year in a row is an apt display of how nepotism has allowed you to keep your starting role. I would even say that you and your dad should both still lose your jobs, but that is unlikely to happen given this result.

To be fair, a substitution led to the third goal. And I honestly thought Bradley was insane – needing a goal, the US took off a striker (Altidore, who’s young, but seemed to be playing better as the game went on) and brought on a midfielder, moving Dempsey up front. Dempsey’s probably the US’ best player (sorry Landycakes), but he’s been gash all tournament long. And yet, as soon as he moves upfront, he pops up with a terrific header from an equally terrific Spector cross. Bob Bradley 1, Internet schmucks like me 0.

And thanks to Brazil steamrolling an uninspired Italy, USA goes through with a 1-0-2 record on goals scored. And now they get to face an in-form European champion, playing to set the record for consecutive games without a loss. Alonso and Fabregas have stepped in for the injured Senna and Iniesta, and Torres has been in the mood for murder since returning from injury, whether with Spain or Liverpool.

And yet, with the way this tournament’s gone, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the US nick a 1-0 win. Just another reason why this is the best sport there is.

4 comments:

Fan Futbol said...

Nate,

Like you, I'm a Liverpool/USMNT man -- but I'm definitely completely and totally loyal to the USMNT. Or at least I want to be, but that's been increasingly hard given Bradley's use of Wynne, Beasley, and Kljestan, his refusal to use Adu and Torres, and other puzzling decisions.

It's tough to watch a manager with young technical talent (Adu, Torres, Feilhaber, the ignored Szetela) largely confine them to the bench, in favor of more "athletic" but unskilled players. Bradley's the sort of guy who'd keep Xavi and Iniesta on the bench because they lack "physical presence" or some such codeword for imagined physical deficiencies. I'm only kind of kidding. Which is frightening.

As you wrote at the time, Adu did quite well against Spain (and against Argentina, and against Pato's young Brazilians in the u20 07 WC), and I'm confident he would tomorrow. The odds that Adu will play at all Wednesday: 0. Odds that stone-footed Kljestan will play: 50%. Odds that I will lose my mind if Kljestan comes on: 100%.

So I always want the US to do well, but the Egypt win lets Bradley keep his job. Which means, unless we get historically humiliated by Spain (and we won't), next summer we're going three and out. Which will kill me -- unless Pool wins the Premiership and Gerrard wins World Player of the Year. Then maybe I'll survive. But watching the US crash and burn will still really, really hurt.

Also -- absolutely love your site. I check it routinely.

FF

Abhiram said...

nate,
I would be really REALLY surprised if US could do Spain in. Even with two main team members out, this Spain teams looks the best team in the world by a distance. Imagine replacing two important team members Iniesta and Senna for other teams. All Spain have to do play subs like Alonso and Fabregas :) . Good subs no?

Even Llorente and Guiza for Torres and Villa is, simply put, surplus of resources.

My prediction for the match and with due respect given to US for coming till the Semis - 3-1 to Spain.

Mike Georger said...

I'm really not sure what I want here. I'm American, but I've been fucked around by the US Soccer Federation far too many times. I tend to put my allegiances with Poland more than anyone because it's my heritage, and England simply because of Stevie. But then I get real defensive from all the England fans giving me stick for America sucking, when England hasn't done dick since the Johnson Administration.

All I know is, I'm glad Italy and France are punchlines atm.

Manton said...

As a proud Yank, I'll be wearing my USMNT Kit and watching Spain more than likely run through the US like so many pieces of tissue paper. Here I see no downside: either my side wins in one of the most dramatic, stupid upsets I've ever seen, or I get to see four Redmen stomp around for 90 minutes.

Also, seriously, Rossi can eat one, that traitorous bastard