Poland 0-3 U.S. – Um, wow.

Here’s the funny thing about last night: we won the game. By that I mean, we have won games in the past – e.g. by the means of scoring at least one more goal than the other team – but the remarkable thing about last night was that we won. And this was in Europe and against a decent team and we looked better, collectively, certainly, but also, in some places, on an individual level. Well, all right.

As you’ll gather below, I’m just in love with the U.S. Men’s National Team right now – or the Yanquis, as I like to call them. Rather than bore you with a blow-by-blow run-down, I’ll bore you with several quick, hopefully interesting observations:

– Was Landon Donovan man of the match? Tempting thought. If nothing else, the man actually delivered solid set-pieces, several of them – a “holy shit” kind of thing all by itself. And I don’t care what anyone says or thinks, he did damn well on that breakaway in spite of missing the goal.

– Speaking of set-pieces, I would be freakin’ the frank out if I was Polish, or just supported their national team; they were all over the place on set-pieces. And against the U.S.

– If you’re wondering about the odd use of the word “frank” above, that was inspired by the show about the ghost hunters from Rhode Island that broadcasts on the Sci Fi Channel. Freaked out and unable to say “fuck,” one of the guys said something like “that is so frankin’ weird.” I just liked the sound of it. Back to the game… Continue reading

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Yanks Abroad: Bradley with his 17th! Pickens, Szetela, etc.

Michael Bradley didn’t let his US/Mexico disappearance get to him and continued his scoring ways for Heerenveen. This time, the 20 year old halted PSV’s dominance of the Frisians with a 52nd minute equalizer. It’s 17th goal overall, 13th in Eredivisie play. See below…

Danny Szetela – newly loaned out to Brescia of the Serie B – looked decent in the last 10 minutes of a 4-2 Brescia comeback win.

Oguchi Onyewu played all 90 minutes in a Standard Liege shutout of Rosealare. Unfortunately, Liege couldn’t find any offensive production either. 0-0 tie.

Not one American started for Fulhamerica in a 1-0 loss to Middlesbrough. Brian McBride and Clint Dempsey did get in. Dempsey after the break, McBride with 30 minutes to go. Kasey Keller sat on the bench, but is back and ready for selection. Eddie Johnson apparently got into a reserve game a couple days ago and scored in a 3-0 win.

Timmy Howard won the battle of the American goalies as Everton beat Marcus Hahnemann‘s Reading 1-0 and put them into the relegation zone. Bobby Convey was not selected.

Benny Feilhaber was not selected for Derby’s ass-whooping at the hands of Tottenham. Eddie Lewis is out injured.

Jonathan Spector was a last-minute sub for West Ham United in their 1-1 tie with Birmingham City.

Johann Smith
wasn’t selected for Bolton’s 1-0 loss to Portsmouth.

Matt Pickens was on the bench for QPR’s 3-2 triumph over Southampton. He didn’t play.

Jay DeMerit
was not in the line-up for Watford’s 2-1 win over Ipswich.

Fullback Zak Whitbread went all 90 minutes for Millwall in a 2-0 loss to Nottingham Forest.

Jemal Johnson got on for the last 5 minutes in a MK Dons’ 1-1 tie with Rotherham.

Steve Cherundolo started at fullback in Hannover 96’s 2-2 tie with Karlsruhe. Sal Zizzo was on the bench, but didn’t see any time.

Bryan Arguez
wasn’t selected for Hertha Berlin’s squad and Preston Zimmerman didn’t make the Hamburg squad.

Greg Dalby
wasn’t selected for Charleroi’s game versus Sint Truiden.

An Initial 21 for Switzerland

Bradley released his initial roster to train in Europe for the October 17th friendly coming up against Switzerland. As expected, we get to see some new faces – whether or not they actually dress for the game is a different story.

Goalkeepers: Marcus Hahnemann (Reading [ENG]), Tally Hall (Esbjerg [NOR]), Chris Seitz (Real Salt Lake)

Even Hahnemann’s recent 7 goal drubbing (in his defense, several of those goals were deflections and/or ridiculous) couldn’t keep him out. Despite his age, he deserves his shot and even though it might not have staying power, I am happy he’ll be in Switzerland. Expect him to be your number one with Seitz in back up. The 22 year old Tally Hall has yet to play at the senior level in Norway, but his inclusion doesn’t really surprise me. My question: if you’re going for youth, why not throw in Quentin Westberg who has shone in his chances with Troyes.

Defenders: Carlos Bocanegra (Fulham [ENG]), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover [GER]), Dan Califf (Aalborg [DEN]), Jay Demerit (Watford [ENG]), Oguchi Onyewu (Standard Liege [BEL]), Heath Pearce (Hansa Rostock [GER]), Steve Purdy (1860 Munich [GER])

Heath Pearce is enjoying learning the hard way in the Bundesliga but has shown real well to have a good chance to get into this line up. You’ll probably still see ‘Dolo, Boca, Gooch, and Demerit start. Steve Purdy has been lining up for 1860 Munich’s second team and is a big defender (6’4″, 190) that most likely won’t see time, but his first training camp will be an eye opener.

Midfielders: Freddy Adu (Benfica [POR]), DaMarcus Beasley (Glasgow Rangers [SCO]), Michael Bradley (Heerenveen [HOL]), Maurice Edu (Toronto FC), Benny Feilhaber (Hamburg SV [GER]), Eddie Lewis (Derby [ENG]), Danny Szetela (Racing Santander [ESP])

Eddie Lewis is back in there after making the jump from Leeds United to Derby County in the EPL with renewed vigor. Between Kenny Miller and Lewis, they’ve been Derby’s only lifelines. Feilhaber has found his way into the first team, playing in the 1-0 loss to Reading this past weekend. Maurice Edu’s presence in this roster has been a long-time coming as his play – though erratic at times – has NOT been typical of a rookie. I look forward to seeing him get a chance.

Forwards: Clint Dempsey (Fulham [ENG]), Robbie Findley (Real Salt Lake), Preston Zimmerman (Hamburg SV [GER]), Sal Zizzo (Hannover [GER]).

Clint Dempsey has become a fan favorite at Craven Cottage and not given back his starting position since Hamuer Bouazza’s busted shoulder a month and a half ago. Zimmerman keeps scoring goals for HSV’s second team and is hoping to eventually get his chance, but for those scared of a Kamani Hill-like outcome it seems like this kid is ready for a couple sub appearances. Zizzo has yet to break into the first team at Hannover, but ‘Dolo says his progress is coming along. Findley is everyone’s question-mark, but his speed could complement Dempsey up top – although I think you’ll find Adu in that position. Many wanted to see Altidore but Bradley was right to leave him off for MLS Playoff duties (which you’ll notice that every MLS player included is part of team already statistically eliminated from the playoff race).

Overall, it’ll be an interesting look at the breadth of American talent. See how far it runs deep. Biggest surprises? Possible line-ups?

Brazil 4-2 Yanquis: Hate and Envy

I hate Brazil. I mean the team, not the country.

I don’t hate them for being over-rated; they’re pretty talented, actually. I don’t consider them a team of thugs and they don’t lack class, or even personality. Well, maybe the middle thing does apply: Brazil cheats in this subtly dirty way, employing little tugs and grabs that violate decency more than the physical integrity of their opponents. And that really sucks because the same team that pulls so much little crap also possesses talent at a 2:1 ratio to the U.S. Men’s National Team (hereafter, the Yanquis).

That brings me to the question of why? If one of your three or so playmakers can loft a pass from midfield to a segment on a forward’s toe after he makes a run behind the opposing defense, why do your defenders have to claw and paw Benny Feilhaber like he’s Zac Efron making a surprise mall appearance? Why the theatrical diving? Why, after all these years, do I still hate Rivaldo for the awful bullshit he pulled against Turkey in the 2002 World Cup?

Without going into this more than I need to – after all, this was a friendly and who really expected us to win – the Yanquis did all right on Sunday. We scored two and one of them even looked deliberate. We fought like hell up the middle – and, here, “we” means Michael Bradley who impressed me more in this outing than in any previous – and we created some respectable chances besides. We should have had a PK of our own, which offered, oh, a 50/50 chance of making this a wholly respectable 4-3 loss.

The nearly silly thing is the extent to which none of that matters. Brazil simply plays on a different plane. Half their team can play the killer ball and that slick, that one-, two-touch rhythm seems to come naturally to 3/4 of Brazil’s players, allowing the team to change the point of attack and exploit the thinnest of openings in the proverbial blink of an eye. And it’s so fun to see the game played with that kind of awareness and magic. The cheap fouls and theatrics? Not so much.

So, by way of closing, who did well for us? I thought Steve Cherundolo turned in a good one, Dempsey fought hard for scraps and finished well when he had to. As already noted, Bradley impressed me as much as anyone – and I look forward to the day when I won’t be reminded he’s the coaches son and the fact that’s not relevant, even though I know it will never come. All in all, I don’t think anyone flat-out sucked – and that’s a good thing.

But…y’know…it was a friendly; a win wouldn’t have felt much different.