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 regular basis here at Say Hey. His words follow.
U.S. 0 Guatemala 0
You know what really upset me about this game? Guatemala. From their line-up to their play to their demeanor, the Guatemalan desired outcome was a nil-nil draw from the moment they boarded their plane in Guatemala City (clever name). If truly that is the case, then we might as well say, “Guatemala wins!!!” But wait, this was not the opening match of the Gold Cup in June, nor was it a part of World Cup qualifying. No, it was just a friendly; a meaningless game played to learn more about a country’s players and abilities and an opponent’s players and abilities. So, naturally, the Central Americans guarded the goal with nearly all eleven players in the oh-so-classic 4-5-1 formation. The one man up front, Carlos Ruiz, in between falling down and grabbing appendages, heroically carried the offense against the North Americans with maybe two shots from 30 yards out.
So why am I so upset at Guatemala and not at the United States? Because the U.S. started a squad of international babies, that’s why. Sure, there was Kasey Keller, Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, and Jimmy Conrad (and Eddie Johnson, but until he scores another goal, I am just not considering him); yet, the remaining field players have such a limited national team resume that even I am watching them for the first times.
That the U.S. fielded an inexperienced team is not why I feel I wasted my Wednesday night however. I feel I wasted it because in a couple months when these two teams meet again with much on the line AND later down the road towards Johannesburg, this will be the exact style of game that is played, but the final score will be entirely different. The young Americans will have wised up on the different types of games that are played (the long ball, the counter-attack, the possession game, the throw everyone in defense and hold on to a 1 point draw for dear life Guatemalan style); and they will have figured out that the best way to defeat a defensive opponent is to use the advantages you have in the space they allow. The United States has tall players; Guatemala has 5ft 10in tall players. So, each and every subsequent game will be decided on successful corner kicks, crosses, and set pieces. And Guatemala will foul and dive and complain because their opportunity for real, tangible improvement will have been wasted on “successes” like tonight.
Kasey Keller – Not much to judge him on, but it was great to see him anyways. A Hall of Famer in a few years.
Frank Simek—First international cap. Terrific runs, feisty play; a defender to watch.
Jay Demerrit—First international cap. A great story; a great game.
Jonathan Spector—a 6 out of 10.
Clint Dempsey—So much hype after his World Cup goal and move to Fulham. Seems like a whiner to me.
Benny Feilhaber/Kenny Cooper—Exciting young players.
Michael Bradley—A coach’s son. Is he really only 19?
Justin Mapp—What Dempsey should be. Needs to work on right foot though.
Landon Donovan—According to Eric Wynalda, he was a marked man all night.
[Photo courtesy: US Soccer]