23 March 2006

Germany 4-1 US

Not a good night for the US. The first half was rather even, with both sides getting chances but nobody converting. The second half unraveled quickly, with sub Bastian Schweinsteiger scoring 20 seconds in. The US held for another half-hour, and then the wheels came off. Olliver Neuville, Miroslav Klose, and Michael Ballack all scored in a six-minute span, officially routing the Nats. The US got a goal back, but (as the Germans would say) it was merely an Ehrentreffer.

You could see this result coming from a mile away. The US didn't field its best team; Wednesday was not an official international date, so clubs weren't required to release players for the match. Yet Germany was able to put out its best team. Germany saw this as a must-win game after its 1-4 loss to Italy, and in particular coach Jurgen Klinsmann was under enormous pressure. If the US had even kept the match close, the pressure would build, and a loss would possibly have seen Klinsmann sacked.

In no way is this a pleasing result. And yet there's no need to ring the alarm bells for the US. The main purpose for the match (if I can read Bruce Arena's mind for a moment) was to consider some of the borderline candidates for the squad, and to gain some experience in a difficult situation. Those goals were met. Of course, the fans are ballistic. For whatever reason, a substantial portion of Nats supporters seem a touch bipolar. I was tempted to trawl the BigSoccer threads for some of the more incendiary comments, but it's probably best not to feed the flames.

In reality, very little has changed for the US since yesterday. Despite FIFA's bizarre #5 ranking for the US, the Nats have never been a potential favorite to win the World Cup. (Odd run about 80/1 on the prospect.) Even a repeat of the 2002 quarterfinal appearance would be a major accomplishment. Group E is going to be a dogfight.

So, US fans, set your expectations accordingly. And give credit to the team when it's due. Don't worry too much about yesterday; nobody will remember this match in four months. And if you simply must have something to worry about? Well, I'm sure we can find something.

Kasey's pissed.
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