The Same Old Story: The US Men’s National Team, my DVR and bad luck have again combined to result in my misfortune. I recorded yesterday’s FIFA Confederations Cup match against Italy (which started around 2:00 CST) before I went to work, and I intended to watch it when I arrived home at night. Of course, for the match to be exciting, I had to avoid soccer news all afternoon. That may sound easy for some, but for me…
It was like a scene out of Trainspotting.
I managed to overcome my desire to go to www.ussoccer.com though, and I made it home late at night, cracked open a cold beer and settled on my sofa. I had a foolproof plan to avoid the Wolf Blitzer incident (aka “Blitzergate”) of 2008. I had left the game on the same channel so I wouldn’t have to flip around. Well, my foolproof plan proved me to be the fool when I turned on the TV and saw “US 1 – 0 Italy” on my screen.
So, I was immediately angry and exhilirated. On the one hand, I couldn’t believe I was such a freaking idiot. The idea that the game would be on again without the miracle of DVR had not occured to me. But, I was also pumped because the US MNT was beating Italy. For the first time. Ever. Seriously. I had no idea how a team who couldn’t topple a suspect CONCACAF foe recently could be beating the reigning World Cup champions.
I had ruined the first half by catching the score, but I still had the footage recorded on DVR, so I returned to the beginning to watch the match and see how the US had taken a lead over Italy. This decision – to go “back in time” – may have killed the momentum for the U.S. Then again, maybe I am just insanely superstitious. In any event, going back to the beginning meant I would see it all, and now I wish I hadn’t.
So, without further ado (or Freddy Adu), here are my thoughts on today’s game:
The Aforementioned Revenge of Rossi: Giuseppe Rossi doesn’t look exactly like Benedict Arnold, but he certainly played that role yesterday in South Africa. Rossi grew up in the United States. He went to H.S. in New Jersey. But, his parents were Italian, so he could play for the Yanks or the Azzurri. He went with the contender and yesterday he validated his decision. Rossi erased America’s lead with a 58th minute goal.
Did I mention that he entered the game in the 56th minute? No? Oh, well he did, and as soon as he hit the pitch I knew he would score. 120 seconds later, he easily pilfered the ball in midfiled, dribbled 20 yards completely untouched and pounded a perfectly placed shot into the upper-left corner of the net. It was an amazing play and – strictly as a soccer fan – I was in awe. A second later – as a Yank – I cursed his name.
He could have been the greatest player in US history, but it appears he will just be yet another great player in Italian history. He is a promising star, and I wish him luck, just not against the US anymore. His goal reinvigorated Italy’s hopes and (inevitably) the Azzurri overwhelmed the best 10 (thanks Ricardo Clark!) men the US had to offer up as sacrifices to the soccer gods. My DVR disappointed me, but Rossi killed me.
The Rambling Player Reviews: In goal, Howard did the best he could, but in the 2nd half he faced a firing squad. He played well despite the ugly box score. No one in the back did much right. Our defense was missing a few starters, sure, but there is no excuse for their ugly play yesterday. Italy looked like soccer’s version of the “Harlem Globetrotters” at times, and they appeared to be taking it easy on us.
The midfield had no chemistry. Michael Bradley showed signs of brilliance, but just as quickly as such signs would arise, he would dash them with a stupid decision. Ricardo Clark made the stupidest decision of the night though when he drew a red card for punishing Gattuso with a dirty tackle. Clark may never play Italy again, and if so, he is lucky because Gattuso will straight up cleat him in the groin. Those Italians are dirty.
But, then again, so are we Americans (Exhibit A: Clark). We don’t just throw elbows (like the one Donovan took from Grosso), we also are fans of the dirty dive. So, Altidore and Dempsey spent about a third of the game on the ground begging for penalties. Sure, Altidore drew the foul that resulted in the PK but – like Cuba Gooding, Jr. – that was his only award winning performance. The rest of his canon is complete crap.
Jozy was a disappointment. He lost the ball several times and is a terrible holding striker. Dempsey also played poorly, and DMB, Davies and Special K had little to offer as substitutes (though Sacha did almost score). Feilhaber was decent, and Landycakes… Well, he was simply brilliant. I’m not talking about the PK (though it was a good one against one of the world’s best keepers), I’m talking about the whole game.
Landycakes was brilliant. So…
Retiring “Landycakes”: I am guilty of making fun of Landon Donovan on occasion. Well, on many occasions, actually. But, after today’s performance, I think it’s time for myself (and everyone else) to just stop spewing hate and ridicule on our only real attacking player. Our team leader. So, I will never call him “Landycakes” again. I am retiring the nickname for good, and I hope everyone else will do the same.
Tonight, he had our only goal and if not for some abhorrent finishing he would have had two assists too and we would have perhaps at least tied in a barnburner. During the first half, he put two perfect passes on the feet of MB and Jozy. Neither man could finish the job. Donovan was our only impetus tonight, and he looked so fast and confident on the ball coaches all over the world must have been wondering…
“What the heck is this guy still doing in MLS?”
He was one of the best players on the field and he was on the field with 11 of the best from Italy. Enough said. But, what should I call him now? LD has certain dirty connotations, but I like it, and it’s short (ironically). So, LD validated his leadership ability to me tonight, even though he captained us to an ugly loss. He played with desire, and he looked sharp against one of the world’s best defenses.
I think we all should just give him a break.
The Final Thoughts: I could go on and on about the disappointing moments in this game, but at the end of the day I guess we can take some solace in the fact we were in the game for so long. While I know that sounds like a “defeatist attitude”, I also think it is a “realistic attitude”. We are nowhere near as good as Italy right now. Hopefully, beatdowns like tonight will only make us sharper when 2010 rolls around.
All in all, this was yet another ugly game between two teams that historically do not get along. Both teams dished it out as well as took it tonight, and there will be many sore players at the next match. It was a loss, so it was disappointing, but it was also a glimpse of Donovan’s potential and a courageous effort by a 10 man US side who no one expected to win.
Finally, I am calling FIFA to protest this result.
After all, Rossi was born in America right? So I want to claim him as an American pursuant to my (fictional) Constitutional Right to do so. So, I hereby go “back in time” on my DVR and convert Rossi to Americanism prior to yesterday’s game. Ha ha! Another foolproof plan! But wait! Even then we would have only tied Italy 2-2. We still would be winless against the Azzurri. Damn! We may have to go back even further to stop him…
Anyone got Doc Brown’s phone number?