Sunday, July 8, 2007

Viva Los Futboleros

As for futbol, the U-20 World Cup Grout Stage match the US had against Brazil the other night was somewhere between the Miracle on Ice and a solid DC United win. When you think about US beating Brazil, it's pretty awesome; but when you think about the fact that this alos happened in 1989 and that group as a whole didn't end up making much of impact other than Alexei Lalas making more ridiculous claims than when the guy at my college who says he got a fullride to play polo at UVA but turned it down to pay an obscene amount of tuition at my small liberal arts college, Brian McBride (niiiiice), and Eric Wynalda (uhhhhh....), who also makes some really dumb claims abut U.S. soccer. And this Brazil team lost to U-20 soccer superpower South Korea sooooo, let's relish this as our young'uns outplaying a more talented team due to superior chemistry and coaching, and having some tremendous individual performances. Actually this deserves a bit of a breakdown, Dean's List style:

FREDDY ADU---Holy Crap, this guy had a helluva match, despite bitching WAY too much to the refs and other players (though the refs were mediocre and the Brazilians were taking some obvious cheap shots, like running into guys after a it wasn't exactly unwarranted) though he is expected to do some of that as the captain for that match, which I was surprised-pleasantly, in the end-to see. He did a lot of the dirty work in creating both goals, ultimately setting both up, though he arguably committed a foul when he stole the ball on the first goal. But his move to get out of Brazil's (right?) corner past two defenders with good position on him to dribble around two other dudes and take a hard, quality shot whose rebound went straight to Altidore for an easy put in. I mean, he only juggled the ball over his head, past the Brazilian defender who was right on him, passing it to himself. Amazingly, ESPN didn't show a single replay of him doing this, just what happened after one of the sickest moves I've ever seen. If you consider yourself a U.S. soccer fan, or just a soccer fan in general, you have to see this goal, about 6:50 into this quality hihglight reel of the match:

I mean, as far as moves go, that was pure Cristiano Ronaldo, and really fucking sick. He also took some pretty good free kicks, though he over shot a few corners. Totally lived up to his potential in this match, great stuff. GPA: 4.3 A+

CHRIS SEITZ---Also, even though he gave up a goal, he made so many outstanding saves that he was easily as much of an impact player in this match as Adu. The defense for the U.S. wasn't too bad, it's just that they happened to be playing more of an offensive strategy with the wing defenders coming up more as midfielders. More on that later, but this dude was absolutely incredible. You could see he actually did a pretty good job of calming down that defense after some close calls and erasing just about every mistake made in front of him. After that performance, and even though it was a 'junior' Brazilian team, it had offensive talent that would already be starting on just about every other national team in the world, and they put together a LOT of quality attacks, most of which Seitz, a Maryland guy, stopped like Brad Friedel in the '02 World Cup. Dude did his best impression of Petr Cech throughtout this match. The Brazilian goalie had some great saves as well, but had less pressure put on him. The difference was the US finished better and Seitz played out of his mind. I'd definitely take him over the vastly overrated Kasey Keller and a struggling Tom Howard on the regular national team. Here's a quote about him, from the Brazilian coach, via Steven Goff's Soccer Insider blog: "Chris Seitz was huge in critical moments of the game, no doubt." GPA 4.3

THOMAS RONGEN---Solid strategy for this match, which to me looked a bit like the beautiful Argentinian deliberate passing method (I doubt they invented this, but it reminded me of a watered down version of their national team in this past World Cup) incorporated with an aggressive Dutch-esque total football, bringing up interchanging defenders and midfielders. The US U-20 team also has some obviously good chemistry, something the coach usually has something to do with, and they played about as hard as they possibly could, definitely something the coach has a lot to do with. If Bob Bradley doesn't work out, this guy deserves a shot. 4.0

JOZY ALTIDORE---Two goals, was in the right place/created the right situation for me at least a couple other times but couldn't finish. Obviously scoring twice is fantastic, though Adu deserves a lot of the credit for those put-ins. Still, Jozy looks to be part of a trend among young US players of being taller than the average Smurf. I'm really sick of the US bringing that put-it-in-the-mixer mentality to the World Cup when they clearly don't have a height advantage against a lot of European teams. Now it looks like the US is starting to have more and more guys who are taller, and Jozy is a part of that trend. He's only listed at 5'10'' on the US Soccer site, but he looks like he could be 6'1'', 6'2''. As Jay Bilas would say, dude's long. Maybe we can finally win some headers against teams like Germany or the Czech Republic. 3.7

SAL ZIZZO---This guy I have never heard of, like everybody on this list but Adu (who should start going by Fredito or Fredinho if he keeps playing like this), but it looked like Joe Cole was wearing his jersey the first half. Guy had some great on-ball possessiions, sick crossovers, and a quite little back pass once or twice. Looked like he faded some in the second half, but also looked to be playing more of a fundamental, passing role instead of trying to create for himself. Biggest thing he brought to the table though is that his name is S. Zizzo. I think we should change his name to Kingsley, and some red knit caps. Word is he quotes the Life Aquatic before every U-20s match. He is now my favorite soccer player, based almost entirely on his name (even if it is spelled differently, it's the pronunciation that counts, baby!). 3.0

ROBBIE ROGERS---And this is another solid name for a soccer player. He had a solid shot on goal that was the Brazilain goalies best save of the game. I think he did something else too. In the end, it's the alliteration that matters. 3.0

HONORABLE MENTIONS---Michael "Nepotism" Bradley, good job doing at the CDM position, Nathan Sturgis, probably the best defenseman for the US in this match, he was good down in our own box and played a bigger than usual offensive role with that aggressive gameplan.

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