US – Czech Republic

This is being written immediately after coming back from the conference room at work where some bright spark had ported Univision to an overhead projector, so all data errors and bizarre opinions are purely my own fault. Further disclaimer: I missed the first half hour of the game, and I'm told that meant not only Koller's goal for the Czechs but also only decent shot from the US of the half, from Reyna.

So. When I watched the last 30 minutes of the US friendly against Morocco, I thought the following three things:

1) The passing game wasn't working — passes were too far and too inaccurate, and the US was vulnerable to close man-marking that disrupted their forward movement.

2) The US wasn't taking advantage of pace and fitness, which are usually their guaranteed advantages.

3) The US was out of shape in defense, so that they were vulnerable to fast crossing passes and quick shots on goal taken before the defense could get themselves sorted out.

Today's game had all of that. There was a lot of back-passing to try and overcome the marking, and the Czechs were very fast on the counter attack. The first goal that Rosicky scored (second overall for the Czechs) was just one of those things; it was going in from the moment the ball left his foot. The second Rosicky goal though was avoidable, at least at that moment.

All things being equal, it's lucky for the US that they didn't do worse. There were times in the second half when McBride and Convey were back defending on the left, which didn't seem encouraging. Some individual plays were impressive, especially when Beasley – I think – came to life in about the 67th minute and put out a very dangerous Czech pass for a corner, and Johnson had a couple of good shots.

Still, you can't get too down on the US for getting beaten by a better team – it happens. However, I think that they need to rethink their game, especially against Italy. This borders on heresy, but when Reina starts to slow down the game to get some control of the mid-field, he's working against the US strength in their pace — that needs to stop, and they should spend the next couple of days working on their passing. And, possibly, practicing holding on the back four so that there's someone around when Totti arrives at speed!

The Italians are quite happy to grind out a 1 – 0 win with the charmless cattenacio defense; the US is going to have move much much faster to get anywhere against them.

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One Response

  1. DCT,

    I wanted to get this up yesterday but I had diaper duty.

    The US team looked totally lost almost disinterested. One thing stands out to me, if US Soccer ever hopes to be world beaters they need to recruit some BIG players. Having some 5′ 10″ defender take on a 6′ 7″ forward will always reep bad results.

    As for your other points you’re dead on, they couldn’t handle being marked and the constant back passing slowed the offensive tempo down to the point that they were always back on their heels.

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