22 June 2006

WC: Ghana 2-1 US

Ghana 2-1 US.

I'm crushed.

It's so, so bitter to see the US go out like this. We played so well through qualifications, but just didn't ever look very good in the World Cup. Lacking skill. Lacking effort. Lacking ideas. Always missing something. We were decent for maybe the first 15 minutes against Italy, and perhaps the first 20 against Ghana. and that's about it.

We did have some decent stuff at the beginning of the game. But as with Italy, we left ourselves open for a silly opportunity at the back. I'm not sure what happened with Reyna, he usually doesn't make errors like that. It's possible that his knee was damaged before the challenge came it. But in the event, he lost the ball, left Dramani alone... who took his chance nicely.

The US came back pretty hard, and in particular Damarcus Beasley finally stepped up. The goal was largely his creation. He lost posession in the attack, but cleverly read the pass, intercepted it, and sprinted goalward. His cross was inch-perfect, and Clint Dempsey's one-touch shot was rifled into the goal. 1-1 and game on.

But then, horror. The penalty call was just wrong, and Markus Merk is now on my sh*t list too. Sigh. The penalty was nicely taken, Kellar's not getting to that even if he dives the right way. And suddenly, our 1-1 at the half is 2-1 and the US has its back broken.

The US struggled to bring an attack in the second half, and spent long periods of time looking at a loss for ideas. They had a few good chances -- Donovan's shot over the bar, as well as McBride's header just onto the post. But they played too many long balls that had no hope of finding anyone. And spent much too much time in the back, trying to decide what to do. All in all, it was a shockingly passive display.

I'll post later, probably after the final, on what I think the US needs. But in short: time for Arena to move on. Thank you, Bruce, for some fantastic service. You've built the US into a legitimate threat and you deserve credit for it. But it's time for some new ideas. Anyone have Phil Scolari's number?

And it's also time for some of the "golden generation" to take a long, hard look at what they're going to do. In particular, we need to figure out the middle of the park. Reyna will retire from internationals before 2010 (and if he's still playing, we're in trouble). But Landon Donovan, I'm looking at you. After this World Cup, you can see why he turned tail and fled Germany for LA.

More later of course. But for now, it's just a sad, sad day. David and I did our best to support these guys through qualifications. I know others have done a lot more, but we saw several of the key games. Grenada. Costa Rica. Mexico. And Morocco too. All that has come to nothing now. And so we'll mourn for a while. For what might have been.

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