Tuesday, June 13, 2006

U.S. vs. Czech Republic Recap

by Mike Hatton, KankaNation FUTBOL! Correspondent

Editor's Note: See, I knew I was right to leave the soccer analysis to the experts.
Also, in case you're not used to such frequent posting, make sure you don't miss Jon Byrer's Prairie Home Companion movie review and my World Cup team nickname rundown.

The simplest analogy I can use for this game, is that the U.S. looked like ND against BYU in 2004. They looked un-inspired and un-prepared.

Everyone was standing around, no-one wanted the ball. When we did try to mount an attack, it was quickly stifled by Czech midfielders who seemed to be everywhere.

Five minutes in, the left back failed to challenge the Czech attacker, giving him too much time to get a good cross in, that was easily headed past Keller by the 6'8" Koller.

Reyna had a chance at an equalizer, but hit the post, and the US wouldn't seriously challenge again.

Later in the first half, Onyewu headed a clearance into the middle of the field, leading to a 30 yard strike that beat a diving Keller. Middle school players know that clearances should go to the outside, never up the middle.

Eddie Johnson, a second half sub, seemed to be one of the few bright spots, and he should crack the starting 11 against Italy on Saturday.

Its now an uphill climb to get out of the group stage. In a perfect world, we win out against Italy and Ghana, and the Czech's do the same, giving the group a 9-6-3-0 look. If we can only manage a tie against Italy, we'd need to blow out Ghana, to make up for our -3 goal differential coming out of the game against the Czechs.

But its the World Cup, and anything could happen. I look forward to seeing how we bounce back against Italy on Saturday, and hopefully manage to move on to the knock-out round.

Watching a little bit of the Italy-Ghana game, I'd expect the US to have more room to operate in the midfield, which should help their confidence. Time will tell.