Soccer gazetteer Brendan McCarthy is an avid fan, a prolific goal scorer in his
recreational semi-pro league and an all-around metahuman. Residing in “Texas,” he continues to follow the game he loves (along with about seventy gabillion other people). Brendan will share his thoughts about fútbol on a weekly basis here at Say Hey. His words follow.
I am sure you were wide awake well before the 12 p.m. ET kickoff time—applying the stars and stripes over a bowl of Cheerios and/or trying out your fresh, new blue Nike fits, preparing for the most sublime day of days: U.S. Soccer Sunday. So, needless to say, you are very aware of what a tremendous display the young men of United States Soccer put on for you and me against Ecuador. But just in case … just in case, let me walk you through the most meaningful meaningless game so far on the fledgling road to 2010 South Africa.
The score first: 21-7 United States. 21-7? How is that possible? Well, in a new twist to make soccer more interesting to the American public, goals are now worth 7 points. Want more high scoring games? Fake it like American football! … Just kidding, of course. But the real score, 3-1, was absolutely high enough for those who stumbled upon ESPN2 on Sunday. Forty-five seconds into the game, Landon Donovan ripped a left-footed shot into the back right of the net. ‘Twas a stunning opening to a competitive game. It could have turned out so differently; another boring opening 50 minutes of little shooting and mistimed passing—Landon passing up opportunity after opportunity, frustrating fan after fan. Instead, the newly-married Donovan seemed to rise to the occasion of his captaincy, proving that when he is ON, he is the best player on the field.
The most appealing part of the soccer spectacle was that the United States did it against such a high caliber opponent as Ecuador. Not Brazil or Argentina, but if one watched the forwards and wings of the yellow, blue, and red, they would have seen sizable athletes with superb ball skills. All in all, a great follow-up to an intense victory over Mexico. And what can you say about Bob Bradley? Interim coach much longer? The first American national team coach to start his career 3 and 0. Plugging in player after player with little to no international experience, yet winning and gaining vital knowledge for the Gold Cup and Copa America this summer. Wow. Can’t wait for Wednesday night’s game against Guatemala in Frisco, Texas (ESPN2, 9 p.m. ET). Hopefully, we’ll see a lot more Donovan and a little more Justin Mapp.
G Tim Howard—A fine performance.
D Cherundolo/Conrad/Bocanegro/Onyewu—Nothing noteworthy. Can only remember Felipe Caicedo’s goal/dribble in US box.
M Clint Dempsey—Not even enough style to hide the little substance.
M Demarcus Beasley—Decent game. An assist.
M Benny Feilhaber—Makes one think of a future without Claudio Reyna What took so long? With Bradley, Clark, and Mastroeni, US midfield is looking above average.
M Landon Donovan—Wow 3 goals. All earned. 5 goals in 3 post-World Cup friendlies.
F Eddie Johnson—First time in a while he made dangerous runs into space.
F Brian Ching—Earned his international cap with a brutal kick to the face; then followed it up with some fantastic one-two’s with Donovan.
[Photo courtesy: LA Times]