I admit it, I nearly quit in the first half after Argentina scored what I thought would be the first goal of a half dozen or more. When Ian Darke said at the end of the first half, "If you don't like this, you'll never like soccer"? Well, maybe I don't like seeing my team pay tribute to Monica Bellucci's performance in "Irreversible." (Which wasn't actually the sleeve slogan on the red jersey.)
Forty-five minutes later, we tied. So what happened?
Well, we can certainly dismiss out of hand the theory that Argentina didn't try their hardest after halftime. You see, even though every one of their players have lucrative club careers that they didn't want to risk just to prove a point in New Jersey, and even though they had completely dominated possession in the first half to the point of humiliation, and even though this was "only" a friendly, Argentina definitely played at their peak in the second half. This is so self-evident, that it doesn't even require any justification. We tied Argentina. LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU
Actually, contrary to Team Wreck, who I hate to argue with because they were so right about that bag who interrupted the moment of silence, this is why I didn't like Jermaine Jones and Clint Dempsey acting all tough and getting in Messi's face. If something is at stake, then by all means mad-dog the other team. But Messi could have just waved his tax return in their faces and walked off the field. Fine, Clint, you're tough. I'll bet Messi's never seen a tough guy before.
I'm not saying they should have bowed before Argentina. But if you're going to get in someone's face, at least show something resembling the ability to keep the ball away from them, Jermaine.
By the way, why am I off base for thinking that we should focus on Michael Bradley and Maurice Edu, since they're both more than five years younger than Jones and have significant upside?
Fine, fine. There were positives. Let us focus on them.
Once again, we made the tactical adjustments to turn defeat into not-defeat. More than that, the US showed resilience and determination. It sounds stupid when John Harkes says it - then again, John Harkes could make the Sermon on the Mount sound like the Spongebob Squarepants theme song - and you're probably as tired of the "This team has heart and never gives up" cliches as I am.
But, irritating as it is, there's got to be something to it by now. After every game, garbage January friendly or World Cup comeback, every player stands tall and proudly delivers the Crash Davis quotes - only they believe them. Because they're true. This is a very proud program. That's nothing to belittle, and that starts at the top.
So, bottom line. Bob Bradley has given the national team the never-say-die attitude they need to overcome Bob Bradley's mistakes.
It probably looked real good on paper - clog the midfield with hard-nosed ball-winners. Messi can't score if he doesn't have the ball.
And hey, he didn't score! Mission accomplished! All it took was playing like the 1990 World Cup team against Italy.
We're all excited about Juan Agudelo, now that Jozy Altidore is completely washed up. In all seriousness, I got a very good private message the other day with this video from the US-Brazil U-20 World Cup match from a few years ago. [ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EmExheyGwKs&feature=related]Freddy Adu peaks[/ame]
The question is, what happened?
Well...maybe nothing. Altidore can't do anything stranded up top. (And he's had lousy luck picking clubs.) Maybe this game in particular gave them all heads bigger than their ability. And maybe there isn't that much correlation between youth World Cups and the real thing. Freddy Adu punished people throughout his career...until he met players with sufficient experience to deal with his antics. Heck, Ghana wins youth tournaments by the boatload, and who have they ever beaten in the World Cup? *sigh*
But I do know that since even Brian McBride Himself couldn't accomplish much as the 1 in a 4-5-1, Jozy won't either. I have to assume that this thought also crossed Bob's mind, too, and also assume he hoped Landon and Dempsey would see enough of the ball, and the US would go forward enough, to provide Jozy with sufficient support.
But...why would putting in Juan Agudelo make that much difference? Was Jermaine Jones screwing us up that badly? Is Agudelo something more than Messiah of the Week? Is literally any second forward enough to pull a vastly superior side back, just to keep them honest?
If so...it didn't even work, thanks to that rebound. Argentina should have just kept sending eight guys forward.
I hate to be Captain Bringdown, but this wasn't the Copa America final, and I'm pretty sure Argentina played accordingly. I don't know if we learned something tactically outside of negatives - 4-5-1 doesn't work, it's up to Tim Howard to keep us in games against better teams, it's up to Landon putting it in the mixer to get us on the board.
Hopefully we get better news tonight against Paraguay. Otherwise, the Mexicans will laugh at us.
On the bright side, the shirt inspired by the supporters was...okay, so it was pretty much hitting the paint box on Photoshop and choosing "fill." Still, there's no reason why a red shirt with a dark diagonal stripe couldn't be used in
...well, I guess that's a little reminiscent. Maybe if the stripe was white, we could
Crap. I hate Van Halen.
Actually, our white shirt would be fine if we'd just pick a color for the middle stripe. Either red or navy would be wonderful.
No, red would not look like River Plate or Peru. Their stripes go the other direction. Allow me to demonstrate. Here's the River Plate design:
And here's the US 1950 design:
See? TOTALLY different.
I also don't hate the slogan knitted into the sleeve, even though "Indivisible? More like INVISIBLE" headlines will be tough to resist after defeats. It would probably be prohibitively expensive, but I'd like that slogan to be personalized along with the name and number. Within reason, of course - I don't really expect Nike to sew the Team America song in gold stitching for me.
...although maybe bootleggers in Thailand will...hm....