Not that I typically go around burning the flag and kicking veterans in the nuts, but I'm positively thrilled with the US losing last night. I hate the idea of Guatemala in the Hex, and I love the idea of T&T in the final round. Yeah, in theory Guatemala kicks Mexico as hard as they kick us. But it was Ansil Elcock that broke Cootiemac's leg, it was the late Mickey Trotman who ran off Bora Milutinovic in 2000, and it was against Mexico that Stern John sealed T&T's first trip to the World Cup in 2005. Mexico's difficulty is America's opportunity, to paraphrase some guys who got killed at a post office. Warriors! Come out and play!
Besides....I like T&T soccer. I know, with Warner in charge it's just a shade better than cheering for Myanmar on the moral scale.
That said - T&T is old, slow, and disorganized. If you were told that Maturana was the man who took Leonel Alvarez, Faustino Asprilla and Carlos Valderrama into a ditch in 1994, you would not have been surprised. Way, way too many familiar names are still playing for the Footba Warriors - it seemed like half their lineup could call Frankie Hejduk "kiddo." I'm surprised some of them weren't in the clip of Caligiuri's goal.
While the United States B-team is going to get some rather sharp criticism in the following weeks, the US should have sealed this biodome in the first half. Those offside calls really were awful. That's what it's like getting hometowned in Warnerstan, and it's a jolly good thing that Maximum Bob got maximum points before this game, so we didn't have to care.
Now, let's get to the good stuff, and trash our players.
Maurice and Sacha - before you take the field, look at each other's shirt. Take careful note of the color. That is the color of your team. Try as frequently as possible to pass the ball to other men wearing that color, and as infrequently as possible to men wearing a different color.
Danny - I thought back in 2004 you were ready to stake your claim to a spot on the national team roster. It is now 2008, and I'm still wrong. I also think it was you who caused the penalty, and not Jozy Altidore.
Brad - learn to organize a defense, and stop giving up rebounds. The good news is, you'll have years to learn, what with Tim Howard having a hammerlock on the starting job. The bad news is, by the time he retires, something like three generations of goalkeepers will be competing for the spot as well. Life is too short to be Juergen Sommer.
Frankie - bad, bad game. BAD game. But, you're still a promising young prospect, so hopefully you'll get more chances.
Heath - well, it's a good thing your primary competition for the spot is 34 years old.
Why didn't Freddy Adu start? This would have been a good chance to see what he can do.
DaMarcus earned a break after his great performance against Cuba, but why didn't we start someone in his place?
Charlie Davies, congratulations on being the latest in the long, long, long, long string of potential US saviors at forward. It's all about being in the right place at the right time - if only every other guy from Kirovski to Ching had thought of making that place on top of the six yard box, and the time during a total defensive breakdown by the other team. Let's see if that works in the long-term (hint: it won't).
Some of this was weather - it was hot and miserable and humid. Lamentably, that's pretty much the default climate for most of CONCACAF.
Some of this was the players not being familiar with each other...which is the coach's responsibility. I'm pretty sure Torres in Pachuca doesn't stand around in midfield with a "Which way did he go?" look on his face. (At this point, though, I don't even want to see what San Luis does. Orozco's young, and all, but if his intent was to make me settle for Bocanegra and Onyewu, well done.)
I can't believe that allegedly young and hungry players need to be told this, but here's what backups and fringe players always have to remember: the less important the game, the less reason you have to look bad, and the more important it is to look impressive. Do you kids want a spot, or not? Yeah, Frankie looked old and jittery - he's still here, while guys like Clint Mathis are in a Salt Lake City gutter begging for 3.2 beer. He knows you don't get into the habit of switching it off for lesser games, because there's no guarantee you can switch it back on again.
And if you can't get it done against a bunch of old men from a cricket nation, why on earth should Bob think you can get it done in the Azteca or South Africa?
Kids today. I tell ya.