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Archive for March, 2008

US 3 Poland 0, International Friendly


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In an impressive display of efficient football, the US dominated Poland in a 3-0 victory in Krakow. The same team that qualified for Euro 2008 ahead of Portugal and Serbia failed to threaten a confident, aggressive US side that made the most of its set piece opportunities. The two center backs, Carlos Bocanegra and Oguchi Onyewu, scored first half goals on set pieces superbly delivered by Landon Donovan. Donovan, Bocanegra and Onyewu all played excellently as did Michael Bradley, Ricardo Clark and Steve Cherundolo. Poland never really threatened thanks to an organized, committed defense.

The US have really taken to manager Bob Bradley’s high-pressure, quick passing and movement tactics. The incredible fitness levels of Landon Donovan, Michael Bradley and Ricardo Clark make the approach particularly effective. Tonight we saw Donovan helping the defense in his own 18 and battling through the last defender and charging forward uncontested for 40 yards before barely missing wide in a 1v1 with the goalkeeper. Bradley and Clark sat deeper in a box midfield while Donovan and Dempsey had limited defensive responsibilities wide and free roam on the offensive half. Poland found little joy in their offensive half due to the nonstop haranguing of Bradley and Clark. Especially impressive was Bradley’s and Clark’s abilities to play under pressure and their commitment to play forward after recovering the ball. The quick play often offset the Poland defense and opened spaces for the wide defenders as well as the four attacking players. It wasn’t just the trio of young midfielders who performed well tonight.

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US U23 3 Canada U23 0: Next stop Beijing

What an awesome performance from the US U23 team. In a game that Canada was never in, the US qualified for this summer’s Olympics on the strength of two excellent set piece goals from Freddy Adu and a wonderfully executed counter-attack finished by Sacha Kljestan. Maybe the US U23s watch too much NBA, the league where many players and teams are accused of not trying until the playoffs. After winning its group while playing on cruise control, the US added a level of intensity and concentration that was sometimes lacking in matches against Cuba, Panama and Honduras.

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US U23 1 Honduras U23 0

In the final game of the group stage the US beat Honduras on the strength of an Eddie Gaven stoppage time penalty. The win clinches first place in Group A and a match-up with the to-be-determined 2nd place team from Group B. Having already secured a place in the semi-finals by way of Panama’s win over Cuba in the earlier match, Coach Piotr Nowak elected to rest his most important players. It was a good opportunity for Nowak to evaluate his options for the all-important semi-final.The play of the US was solid if not spectacular. The US held decidedly more possession and was more deliberate and effective in its attacking play.

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US U23 1 Panama U23 0

Soccer writer Ives Galarcep liveblogged tonight’s match. After the match one astute commentator who called him/herself aristotle said: “I’m not sure i want to watch any more of these games. If this was soccer, I would not like it at all.” And though it pains me to admit, tonight’s game was for the most part a chore to watch. The US did not possess the ball well, did not make good decisions when it did possess and on the whole looked disjointed. Disjointed play is usually caused by players playing with unfamiliar teammates, in uncomfortable roles, or with unfamiliar tactics; tonight it was a case of all three. Even so the US was still the better team and deserved to win. With Cuba losing seven asylum-seeking players, a spot in the semifinals looks all but assured.

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US U23 1 Cuba U23 1

After controlling much of the play and having a man advantage for the last 25 minutes, the US U23 team had to settle for a disappointing 1-1 draw with Cuba. Similar to the roster Nowak named on Sunday, the lineup and personnel Nowak ran out inspired more questions than answers. Deploying a 4-2-3-1 with Jozy Altidore as the 1, Nowak asked Charlie Davies and Robbie Findley to play unfamiliar wide roles and their lack of comfort was on full display. I wonder how many coaches who concoct a one forward lineup ever played forward. It sucks to be the one. And it is rarely effective.

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US Soccer: Gearing up for Olympic Qualifying

Beijing 2008In its quest to qualify for this summer’s Olympics in Beijing, the US U23 team is preparing to play three matches in six days in Tampa. The top two finishers from two groups of four advance to the all-important semifinals which will take place next week in Nashville. The semifinal winners earn bids to the Olympics and play an academic final on Easter Sunday. This past Sunday evening U23 coach Piotr Nowak named the roster that will compete in the regional tournament; the news and reactions were more about who was not on the roster–recent full team standouts Benny Feilhaber and Michael Bradley–than who was. Bradley was not included because he is an integral member of his Dutch team, Heerenveen, which is pushing for a top spot in the league. Conversely, Feilhaber often does not make the game day roster for Derby County, statistically the worst team in the history of the Premiership and no details have emerged regarding the decision to leave him off the roster. The lack of details only fuel the speculation that Feilhaber is suffering from a meteoric drop in form since a summer that included a tournament-winning peach of a goal against Mexico and a big payday move to the Premiership. Fortunately for the US it is deep at the central, holding midfield position that both Feilhaber and Bradley play.

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I am a stereotype

“You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You are the same decaying organic matter as everyone else, and we are all part of the same compost pile.” Tyler Durden, Fight Club

Little stings me more than the realization that I am so easily satirized by sites like, a website just a few months old that boasts nearly 8 million hits. Tyler Durden could be the site’s author or inspiration. Since January it has listed 81 things that white people like and then a brief explanation why or how they came to like them. The 80th thing listed is The Idea of Soccer. I visited the site after hearing it mentioned for the third time in the past week and just after I had set my status on facebook to ‘Andrew loves champions league football’. The 81st and most recent entry is Graduate School; though business school isn’t specifically mentioned, I am in my last semester of graduate school. In skimming the 79 other things that white people like, I found that I was able to split them into three categories: stuff that makes me defensive; salient stuff that I can laugh at other white people for liking; and completely ironic. Do you know which category is which?

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