Saturday, July 14, 2007

Upsetting

The USA-Austria U-20 World Cup Match isn't over yet as I write this, but I'm pissed enough to start writing now.

A few thoughts...

1. Austria looked like the better team on the field. I think I underestimated their talent, and it looked (after Altidore's goal) that the USA team did too. The USA didn't deserve a win, so the rest of this post is just me bitching.

2. Adu's crosses looked like they were fired from a potato gun all day. Totally useless.

3. Altidore's sitter that was missed early in extra time was awful, yet very "American". I still have hopes that he's the striker that doesn't bottle up the USA has needed for years.

4. Okotie is an impressive striker. Bright future there.

5. The conditions weren't good for keepers, but Seitz really has trouble hanging on to things. And combine that with the tendency of the USA defense to go from decent organization to Keystone Cops after rebounds meant both goals in this game (and the goal in the Uruguay match). Kind of odd how the three goals conceded in the knockout round were all busted up rebounds, while there were probably 5-6 very good scoring opportunities that didn't result in goals (due to woodwork, luck).

6. On the last goal, that sure looked like a handball. Wonder if the ref was playing the advantage and had there not been an immediate goal if he'd have pointed to the spot.

7. Like I said, the conditions weren't great. Hard rain, very wet track. When the conditions are that bad, there are two directions a referee can go in terms of changing the way he judges (which I feel is necessary). He can take the conditions into account by calling a closer game, thinking that in bad conditions players are already at risk for injury, so blowing the whistle more and breaking out cards, in some way, will protect players. The other direction the referee can go is by allowing for the fact that the conditions cause added slipping and sliding - and often balls and bodies don't go precisely the spot players had intended - and because of that, the ref allows perhaps a little more contact before breaking out the cards. The ref in this game, I believe, chose the former. I was bothered by that, and considered, in many cases, that the cards doled out in this came (for both teams) weren't the result of intended assaults, but rather odd bounces and unexpected slides. This is a shame, considering that either team would lose key players due to card accumulation in subsequent rounds.

8. Considering the way the ref was calling the game, the USA was at a disadvantage. The USA played definitely a bit rougher, and the Austrian had a definite advantage in touch and finesse. But also, Austria played probably the middle 45 minutes with their chests on the ground or whining with their hands facing the sky. And I think the ref responded. Didn't mean the USA should've won, but it did annoy. It always bothers me when teams with a talent advantage are also the teams that work the ref more.

A good tournament for the USA, but it could've been a game-changer had they advanced to the final (not that winning the next round would've been a sure thing). It's a little sad that there's very little non-Beckham-related soccer to follow now (after the Copa America final). I've actually watched more MLS this year than any before, so maybe I'll stick with that. Houston is good.

So with that, no more soccer for a few months.

2 comments:

Kanu said...

Thanks for the always great insight. The events of Friday night and Saturday {mostly Friday night} joined forces and conspired to only allow me to see the 2nd half but not he first or the extra time.

I am really curious to see how Adu does for the rest of the MLS season, if he starts to breakout and play better. Same for some others, including if Altidore's confidence was raised enough for him to raise his game to another level, although I read before the tournament that he was doing very well in MLS, which I wouldn't know because I don't really follow it.

Is U20 Austria 2007 = Greece 2004?

Grandy said...

Didn't get to watch, unfortunate result.