Andrew and Donna's Road to the World Cup

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Monday, June 12, 2006 – Rough Start

That was a tough game to watch. The worst thing that can happen to the US is to give up an early goal. Our strengths are counterattacking and pressuring – two things that are not successful when playing from behind. It is easy to blame the manager for playing two players out of position in the world’s biggest tournament, but of course hindsight is 20-20. (Though I had a bad feeling from the start.) Football is a funny game. The US were not overmatched. They gave it their all. I was proud to root for them until the end. I was disappointed in two aspects of the game: 1 – I should’ve gotten better seats; 2 – the US fans sat and grumbled way too early…did they really travel 3,000 miles to give up after 40 minutes?

Anyway, I know most of you don’t care about the game that much so I’ll talk a little bit about the personal experiences. I’ll paste some analysis at the bottom.

The travel from Milan to Gelsenkirchen was nerve-wracking. For differing reasons, I have missed the first couple of minutes in the last couple of matches I’ve been to and I was terrified that I would do it again. Donna was kind enough to allow us to get to the stadium almost four hours before kickoff.

We did alter our travel plans a bit, but I didn’t feel guilty after we learned that our match tickets served as bus, rail, and underground tickets for any public transportation in Germany the day of the match. While checking into our hotel a friendly voice said, “I guess you’re going to the match, eh?” I turned around and saw it was ESPN’s sideline reporter Shelley something or other. She was really nice and flattered that I recognized her. She told me that she talked to Bruce earlier in the day and she thought Dempsey would start. I hoped she was right, but then asked about Beasley who I think has been terrible the last 18 months. She said Bruce told her he has had a good week of training and so has Convey. Shelley said she’d pass along more info to us if she saw us. It was pretty cool and got me really excited to head into the match.

After a pretty miserable tram ride, we arrived at the stadium about four hours before match time. The fan fest was not accepting new visitors, so we got some sausages and settled into our seats to watch the Australia/Japan match on the stadium’s big screen. The stadium was beautiful. Our seats were pretty high up as the pictures may indicate, but we had a wonderful view of the pitch.

For the two hours before the match, the fans were chanting and the excitement was high. The excitement definitely faded after the 2nd Czech goal. The whole experience was pretty surreal.

I was certainly upset that we lost and I’m definitely concerned about your psyche going into a must-win match against Italy. For whatever reason, I’ve been able to put that to the side and just soak up a bit of the World Cup experience.

A bit of post-game analysis

Give credit to the Czechs – they were very organized defending and their midfield creativity caused some problems for our midfield and defense. Their early goal would be a dream start against anyone, but it was especially helpful considering the US style of play. Their fan support was outstanding and they were, in general, fair competitors. Rosicky and Nedved were the best players on the pitch tonight.

A look at the three goals (note: this is going off of memory alone)

The first goal was a simple lack of tactical awareness by the team. Eddie Lewis got caught forward from his left back spot. When he ventures forward, Pablo Mastroeni, Claudio Reyna, or Bobby Convey should fill the void. Mastroeni was nearest but the CR player had time to have a touch, look up and pick out the giant Jan Koller in the box, and hit a millimeter-perfect cross for Koller to head in.

The second goal was a wonder-strike, no doubt, but two things went wrong on the play. First, Oguchi Onyewu’s cleared the ball up the middle; that is a cardinal sin, unless the ball clears midfield. Second, Reyna did not close down Rosicky fast enough. He made a half-hearted, one-legged attempt at blocking the shot. Perhaps Reyna thought Keller could not be beat from that distance. Cech might’ve gotten a hand to it, who knows?

The third goal was the result of a tired US team playing a 2—6-2 and Onyewu being unable to foul due to the caution he received in the opening minutes of the game. Surely he would’ve slid in and stopped the play 35 yards from goal instead of allowing Rosicky to go in alone at Keller. Keller went down a little too easy on the breakaway as well, making it much two easy for Rosicky to flick it past him.

Andrew 11:59 AM


Now that I am finished with school, I have been able to catch some World Cup action on TV here and there. I happened to turn on the Japan/Australia game the other day, and it got me hooked. What a great game! I cannot believe Australia scored all those goals so late in the game. I am watching Brazil and Croatia right now. I am happy to hear you are having fun. I hope we see a better turn out from the US.
During work, I checked on the game. I am sorry for the loss, however, Andrew, your sports commentary on the game made me feel like I was there. I felt, even worse, for the loss. However, you make me feel so good about the team, USA, etc., that I will be there, with you, this next game. God speed, and keep me in touch. Thank you. Love Sandy
Hey y'all. We definitely thought of (and looke for!) you guys on the screens at the pub in Alpharetta where not only was our food miserably late, but our hearts sank deeper and deeper as the game rolled on.

ANYHOO...i'm loving the blog and day to day (though i got sadly behind while jeff and I were on vacation last week). Keep up the fun work...say "wie geh'ts" to ma people im der Bundeslande.
I think i commented already, but don't see I'll add another -
I think convey served up some decent balls to themiddle (but he hit as many duds too). I wish he'd take a page from that UK lefter..forgot 'is name.

and...what of 'guch. i was excited about that body in the back, but now I'm sketch on his game...

AND...i think the first goal was partly Keller's fault for punting the ball from teh backfield directly to a waiting CR defense for another attack.

i'm done. hope the azzurri have a bad day.
Hey, glad to see we still have everyone's support.

Katie, I read some quotes and il Bruce agrees with you about blaming Keller. He had some harsh words for Donovan and Beasley as well. It's going to be interesting to see the lineup he sends out Saturday.
Do you think Beasley realized how often he played the ball back? I think not. CR must have loved it. I think they even gave him the ball to start a counterattack a couple of times!
Are you sure that we can't somehow blame the loss on my old nemesis, Josh Wolff?

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