Second night in a row glued to the DVR. Thank you, TiVo, for introducing me to such a beautiful service. Last night I analyzed some of the fantasy studs that England and Mexico will showcase at the World Cup, and tonight I plan on taking a deep look at the USA. Join me for the minute by minute stream of consciousness analysis:
- Pregame: Looks like a sell-out crowd here in Hartford, CT. Aston Villa’s Brad Guzan starts in goal. Looks like a lot of the “starters” at the World Cup have been left out of the lineup. This is sort of the “scrubs” / bubble players lineup with a starter mixed in here or there… Bradley makes his final cuts tomorrow so this is the last chance for a few of these guys to impress in a game situation rather than just in training. Interesting.
- Pregame: The back four is Onyewu and Goodson in the middle, Bornstein on the left and Cherundolo on the right. No Demerit. No Bocanegra. I have to assume both of those (Demerit and Bocanegra) start at the World Cup…
- Pregame: The USA midfield has Beasley, Edu, Torres, and Holden. Will any of these guys start at the World Cup? Probably not. Maybe Beasley or Edu but I can’t see Torres / Holden forcing their way into the eleven…
- Pregame: Edson Buddle (9 goals in 9 games for the Galaxy this season!) and Eddie Johnson start up front. Great pace, there. One of those two will look to partner Jozy Altidore in the US starting eleven… So here we go – a watered down USA side looking to get some rhythm in their first international friendly!
- Pregame: Chelsea’s Petr Cech starts for the Czech Republic and has the Captain’s Armband. Sionko (#7) is a nice attacking midfielder if my memory serves me correctly, but I won’t be focusing on the Czechs tonight. USA in white. Czech Republic in red. Great crowd…
- 7th minute: Possession is about 50-50 thus far but neither team has any legitimate chances on goal. No one has stood out on either side yet when it comes to influence but AC Milan’s Onyewu is getting a few touches out of the back in his first competitive match in 7 months. John Harkes is by no means a classy or “polished” color commentator but at least he’s improved a bit year over year.
- 15th minute: Czech Republic have taken over possession now. Harkes’ commentary has not improved over the past 8 minutes. USA are defending well and are organized but can’t string more than 3 passes together before they lose possession. Torres has a neat and tidy first touch in the CM for the US, however.
- 17th minute: GOAL USA! 1-0! Bolton’s Stuart Holden swings in a free kick from the left side. Clarence Goodson and Buddle go for the header, it drops to the ground and Maurice Edu bangs it in. Petr Cech should have done better, but Edu won’t care. The Rangers man has got his first ever career goal for the US National Team. Meanwhile, Buddle is receiving treatment on the sidelines.
- 22nd minute: Buddle still off the field receiving treatment but preparing to come back on. The US have played with 10 men the last five minutes but are organized and keeping their shape.
- 26th minute: Best chance of the game for the Czech Republic – they get in behind the US defense on the right but the effort flashes just wide of Guzan’s post. Really should have scored there and the US have dodged a bullet.
- 30th minute: Donovan, Howard, Bocanegra, Altidore, and other “Starters” watch from the press box… Bocanegra looks like he’s enjoying either a hamburger or some kind of deli sandwich on a nice bun. Got to eat healthy, Carlos. Meanwhile, Guzan makes his first real save – forcing a corner.
- 43rd minute: GOAL Czech Republic! 1-1. The equalizer has arrived. Last night Mexico scored right before half time against England and Czech Republic have done the same thing. CB Onyewu gets tested in the air and he gets absolutely out-jumped and Czech score from a set piece with a nice header to the corner. 1-1. Game on. A deserved goal. That goal should bring up a bunch of questions about Onyewu’s fitness for South Africa and his jumping ability on that knee…
- HALFTIME: 1-1 at the half. Fair scoreline. USA second stringers have looked OK but have not really dominated possession.
- 46th minute: Bradley has made a number of substitutions – 5 to be exact. Ching is on for Johnson. Klejstan in for Torres. Gomez is in for Buddle. Blogger 1-1-8′s favorite left midfielder Rogers in for Beasley. Four attacking substitutions for the US there. And Pearce comes on for Bornstein at the back. The right side stays in tact (Cherundulo and Holden).
- 52nd minute: Rogers has looked solid rampaging up and down the left flank in the first 7 minutes or so here. The USA’s version of Theo Walcott or Aaron Lennon? OK, maybe that’s pushing it… More like a (very) poor man’s Adam Johnson. He’s only 23, though, Rogers.
- 56th minute: GOAL Czech Republic – but it is ruled offside. All the pressure coming from the Czechs but the goal is ruled out for offside. The US second stringers do not look positive at all this half so far, though Ching and Rogers are working hard.
- 58th minute: GOAL: Czech Republic. 1-2. Polak. No offside this time around. Heath Pearce lost his man and an excellent cross into the six yard box is finished by Polak. Czech Republic are deservedly in front. The US has looked poor in defense this half. They don’t look nearly as organized as in the first half.
- 61st minute: Great long range effort by Robbie Rogers. He has looked better than Beasley on the left. I think he makes the final 23-man roster, though Cech made a good save there. Cech then denies Gomez two minutes later… Better from the US.
- 65th minute: GOAL USA! 2-2. It’s GOMEZ! He leads the Mexican league in scoring and he gets his first ever goal for the US. US score from a set piece, again. Clarence Goodson redirects the corner and Hercules Gomez finishes it! Good finish and the US’ pressure over the last 5 minutes has paid off. Meanwhile, Bedoya is on for Onyewu – who looked rusty in his 65 minutes. That’s the last USA switch. All square.
- 71st minute: Holden takes a shot from a difficult angle and flashes it wide. USA building, here.
- 75th minute: Maurice Edu is solid, but he is also a fouling machine.
- 78th minute: GOAL CZECH REPUBLIC. 2-3. Poor defending again by the US. Good finish by the Czechs. Sloppy defending – that type of defending won’t get you past the group stages in the World Cup.
- 90th minute: GOAL CZECH REPUBLIC. 2-4. Poor way to end the game. The 36,000 in attendance can’t be happy about that.
Summary: Very poor from the US. To their defense, they’ll say that they rested their starters, but the performance was very poor all around – especially the defending. Not the performance of a team going to the World Cup in three weeks. The good news is that the US have a few more friendlies to sort things out. The bad news is that they couldn’t string passes together and lost on home soil. Hopefully for them they’ll play better on Saturday against Turkey.
WC Fantasy Impact: Not much, here. Most of these players won’t start for the US. Goodson, Rogers, and Gomez looked good and should all make the final 23 man team. I doubt they’ll start in South Africa, but they looked good and should make the squad.