Boy, Was That Ever Ugly

Since John (see below) is on the Thierry Henry story, I'm taking a pass on it, for two reasons:

First, because we really don't need two posts on the same topic and second because, frankly, there's just nothing to say. The referee is directly behind Henry and so has no chance to see what occurs. The linesmans' view is blocked, so ditto.

Soccer is a lot like life: it's unfair. Your heart breaks for Ireland, who've gotten the shaft in this whole deal from Day One, and after 500 or so years of misery you'd think the Irish could catch ONE break in something but I guess that's not to be.

So we'll move on to the brief moment when it looked like the US might actually be involved in the game yesterday:

[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=naDDBG-cJXA"]YouTube- Nov. 18, 2009: MNT vs Denmark - Goal 1 - Jeff Cunningham[/ame]

Some people are dismissing this as a less than brilliant goal, and while it's not exactly the result of overall offensive strategy, skill and execution it is the result of good up front team pressure, which counts for something.

The shocking thing to me - particularly as an Altidore fan - is how much like a mediocre U15 forward this clip makes Jozy look.

He lopes along in the middle, apparently calling for the ball (judging by his hands), for no legitimate reason. He makes it easy for the lone defender to cover both him and Jeffro by staying close to the ball and at the same time a) blocks the legitimate pass that will beat the defender - the one to the teammate on his left coming into the area (of whom he is apparently totally unaware) - and b) limits Cunnys' one v. one options by taking away the space in the middle.

If you've ever played the game seriously, this is the point where your coach blew his whistle and stood there with his hands on his hips, smoke rising from his head, screaming "WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING?" at the forward while everyone else on the team studied the grass between their feet.

It's the kind of shocking lack of awareness and tactical good judgment that is holding the guy back. it's not his athleticism that's killing him professionally, it's his head.

Anyway, that lovely moment aside - and nobody does happy like Jeff Cunningham, whose megawatt smile could light Manhattan (or the HDC) - the US provided us with a depressing display of defensive ineptitude that is hard to ignore.

[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SdQSbmekIto&feature=channel"]YouTube- Nov. 18, 2009: Highlights - USA 1, DEN 3[/ame]

Let's start with Jonathan Spector.

I seem to have gotten this thing all wrong somehow; see, I thought the idea was that high=potential American players were going overseas to get better, but I'm apparently mistaken, since every time I see Spector he looks worse. If this trend continues, he'll be lucky to get an offer from the Charleston Battery.

And then there's Frankie.

I love Frankie Hejduk. You love Frankie Hejduk. Everybody loves Frankie Hejduk.

Now that we've gotten that out of the way, Hejduk is done. I love Robin Fraser too but I'm not in favor of handing him a USA jersey.

I don't know how anyone hits the wall that hard but he's managed it. The Crew played much better without him all summer long, and as soon as he came back they went into the crapper and it's not a coincidence.

And since the expansion draft lists will be public probably by Tuesday afternoon, here's a prediction: Hejduk will be on it and Nowak won't take him.

Doesn't get much worse than an international an expansion team doesn't want.

Either MLS or Bob Bradley is wrong here.

Ricardo Clark/Michael Bradley:

I'm combining the two of them because they looked equally inept with the ball at their feet. We can't possible replace either one of them, so we're going to have to pray really hard that they were just so stunned at the incompetence of the defense that they couldn't concentrate.

Stuart Holden/Bennie Feilhaber

They can both come back.

Jeff Cunningham

OK, so it wasn't the greatest goal in US history, but the guy was active and aware and worked his ass off, and even delivered some decent service to Altidore, who looked as shocked as anyone. Bradley is going to have to get Jeffo some games somehow and figure it out, quickly.