Friday, June 29, 2007

School in Session

Coming into Copa America, everyone knew the match against Argentina would be a tough one for the young roster that Bob Bradley named for the competition. The US though played well in the first half, challenging for the ball and creating some chances. They even managed to grab the early lead, as Eddie Johnson was brought down in the box. Johnson converted the PK, and the US had an early 1-0 lead. That lead did not last long though, as all it seemed to do was wake the Argentine's up. A Juan Roman Riquelme free kick in the 10th minute was flicked into the box, where Kasey Keller appeared slow off his line to try and punch the ball away. This led to the ball bouncing around in the box, where Hernan Crespo finished it. The US though was able to show good defensive shape the rest of the half, bending but not breaking under Argentina's attack, including a great save by Keller on a Juan Sebastian Veron shot.

Just after the hour mark, things started to fall apart. The US looked tired and worn out from having to chance the Argentine's all over the field. Crespo scored his second in the 64th minute as he was able to get himself alone just outside the US box, and was found with a through ball by Lionel Messi. Argentina's third goal came in the 78th from Pablo Aimar, who scored on a header after out racing his defender, Ricardo Clark, into the box. To add insult to injury, the US conceded a fourth in the 85th minute. Substitute, yes I said substitute, Carlos Tevez beat the offsides trap, when Jay Demerit was slow to pull with the rest of the line. Tevez walked in alone on Keller and easy slotted the ball past him. The loss is the first for the US since the 2-1 loss to Ghana at the World Cup, and the first under Bob Bradley. That said, this was easily the hardest team the US has faced under Bradley.

It's hard to be overly disappointed with this result. Sure we got our butts handed to us after the hour mark, sure the US looked tired and worn out by then, but did anyone really have their hopes up for this match? I mean when I saw the lineup for the tournament, I almost immediately knew we were in trouble, if the US didn't care enough to send a stronger lineup, why should I care so much when the young lineup we put out there lays an egg? The 10 starting field players last night had a grand total of 140 combined caps. The majority of those cap coming from 4 players (Jimmy Conrad 21, Ben Olsen 35, Eddie Johnson 27 & Taylor Twellman 26), the rest of the starting lineup each had under 10 caps.

The 3 subs (Eddie Gaven, Kyle Beckerman, & Herculez Gomez) were even less experienced, with a grand total of 4 caps between the 3 coming in. Look at it this way, in the 79th minute, the US subbed in Beckerman for Clark, at the same time who did Argentina bring on? Tevez... Defenitely shows the difference in the quality of the 2 sides.

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