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.