Thoughts on USA-Nigeria

If you are going to watch the match later and don’t want me to spoil it for you, don’t click ahead. Otherwise… Well the journey from prospective group winners to first-round flameout is complete. And practically everyone has some blame to share in the disgrace.

Let’s start first with Michael Orozco, whose sending off has to be one the most boneheaded moves in US Soccer history. How on earth you decide to elbow an opponent, less than three minutes into arguably the biggest game of your international career, I have no idea whatsoever. Quite simply, he’s an idiot.

Next, let’s move on to Peter Nowak. Today was the day that we saw Nowak exposed as yet another feckless wuss more interested in covering his own ass than actually going out and winning that match. Obviously, down a man, a forward had to come off for defensive cover. But why on earth do you take off Altidore? All he has done in his international career is cause trouble for opposing defenses by running at them and finishing his chances.

But Nowak has his career in mind. He can’t take McBride off. McBride played in England, see. He’s a US Soccer legend. If Nowak is going to save his ass, be better be able to tell people that I had a Premiership captain on the field at that moment and we couldn’t get it done. Never mind that playing an immobile target striker alone, in what might charitably described as the “Crouch role,” up top against a big physical defense was never going to create many opportunities. In reality, Nowak might as well have said, “We weren’t interested in advancing anyhow.”

Altidore would’ve provided speed and the kind of incisive runs that McBride, at his current age, simply can’t provide. But, Nowak decided that despite this being a U23 Tournament, he would rely on rickety old McBride rather than the guys who got this team there. Of course, only when he decided to put another active striker out there in Charlie Davies did the attack perked up.

Another thing that must be laid on Nowak is the shocking discipline of this team and the total lack of poise it showed during crunch moments. As of right now, the US is tied with China for the least disciplined team in the tournament. Where was Nowak’s much vaunted Eastern European discipline there? Where was all that international experience he was supposed to convey to the younger players? It was nowhere. Players were taking dumb bookings left, right, and center. Nowak got depantsed today as a coach and we’re all poorer for it.

You know who should’ve been coaching this team? It should’ve been one of the few people seemingly ever able to young American players to go out and play with confidence and not fear the opposition. That man is Thomas Rongen.

UPDATE @ 1050 – Apparantly Jozy wasn’t 100% fit going into the match. Still, leaving McBride all alone was never going to serve the US well with the midfield it had out there. BTW, this blog has gone from having an audience of maybe a dozen friends and family to having real journalists provide comment updates from Beijing. Wow.

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6 thoughts on “Thoughts on USA-Nigeria

  1. Pingback: Booked For Dissent » Some Analysis On USA-Nigeria

  2. We can kick and scream all we want about McBride and Orozco, Bradley and Adu, Altidore and Feilhaber, but in the end what we just have to accept is that the US is not producing the level talent on a regular basis to consistently perform at a high level for an extended period of time.

    Our nation’s coaches are not astute enough to both identify talent or adequately develop the skills and understanding to excell on the international stage.

    Our domestic league does not do enough to lure the nation’s young athletic dreamers to choose soccer over more lucrative and attractive sports like football or basketball.

    Our soccer federation is unable to attract the level of experienced footballing minds needed to “right the ship.”

    And our you soccer players have grown up in a kick-and-run offensive of the 70s, 80s, and 90s are not prepared both technically or mentally for the demands of a professional athlete.

    Blame Nowak all you want for failing to bring in or start the right players, but I don’t believe we have the “right players.”

    Blame Orozco for a stupid red card, but I’d bet the team was told to start the game physical and to literally fight for every ball in order to establish a physical presence among and more physically imposing team. So, he got carried away, but I’d be willing to bet it’s not because he didn’t care enough.

    Go ahead, blame Adu for watching the game from the stands after challenging for every ball; Bradley for trying to manage a clock in the closing minutes of a huge game.; Holden for a foul; and Kljestan for jumping.

    But when it comes down to it, the United States does not have or produce the players needed to advance out of the group phase of international tournaments on a regular basis.

    Next opportunity to fail: The Confederations Cup.

  3. I love soccer. And I’ll sing for that choir any day. Just because the US isn’t a world power yet, doesn’t mean their games aren’t exciting and shouldn’t be watched. In fact, it’s great to watch the perennial underdog over-achieve some days. That’s much better than watching the greatest teams in the world play lifeless soccer.

    It’s the arbitrary distribution of blame I find to be ridiculous. We’re always looking for a scapegoat. And to me, that’s pretty fruitless. We’re not the best team in the world. We’ve got good players though that work hard, put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into their game, that deserve more than our superficial critique of what we believe are their inadequacies. Yes, sometimes they make mistakes that costs the US a win. But simply throwing blame at them for not raising their game to a level, rarely reach by any team the US or MLS has ever put together, is definitely something that US Soccer does not need.

    It needs to get better, but throwing Orozco to the wolves is a disservice to the progress US soccer has made over the last 10-15 years.

  4. Ok I think I misunderstood you before. I agree that people in this country overestimate the US national team all the time. Just because we are one of the biggest countries in the world, everyone expects us to have a great soccer team. But soccer hasn’t reached that point yet where every little kid says “I want to be a soccer player when I grow up,” instead of a steroidball player or a basketball or football star. Because of this, we don’t have as many options for the National Team, but since we all expect so much from it, we blame the coach, or the players, or God Himself (I know I did after the Netherlands game).

    And it’s not like we’re the worst team out there. The 4 most populous countries in the world (China, India, USA, Russia) never have great teams. In fact, the US is usually the best of that bunch, so we should be thankful for that. At least the sport is growing rapidly here, whereas it has always been mainstream in those countries.

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