Tuesday, June 29, 2010

US v Ghana

It was a massive disappointment, a momentous letdown.  We knew that by winning our group we would be in a relatively easy bracket, one without Germany and Argentina.  It might be the easiest path to the semis that we may ever see again.  After failing to beat Ghana in 2006, we had a 2nd chance at them and this time Essien wasn't even fit.  This time, we we came with a better team, a bigger heart and a stronger fighting spirit.  And the opportunity was wasted.

It was disappointing because a ref screwed us out of a win over Slovenia that would've taken the pressure off qualifying in the 3rd game.  It was disappointing because we spent all our energy vs Algeria trying to score, even though Dempsey did early on which would've enabled us to conserve effort in the 2nd half.

It was disappointing because, just as I feared, after such a physically and emotionally draining win over Algeria and subsequent celebration, we were only scheduled for 2 days rest, not nearly enough to fully recuperate from a 90 minute WC match by any logic.

It was disappointing because we gave up the first goal for the 3rd time in 4 games (all within 15 minutes) and the 2nd time it happened within the first 5 minutes.  How could we not come focused and ready to play?

It was disappointing that after giving up an early goal in regulation, we gave up another early goal in extra time.  We didn't learn our lesson.  This time, we had used up all our nine lives.

It was disappointing that Ghana, as Bradley said, only had 3 good opportunities, and scored on two of them.

It was disappointing because Ricardo Clark was clearly less effective than Maurice Edu throughout the tournament and yet Bob Bradley started him the Ghana game anyway.  Both early goals are mostly attributable to Clark's mistakes.  Credit to Bob for pulling him right away but the damage was done.  I've never rated Clark highly and would've left him off the WC squad if I could.  Edu and Feilhaber were enough to hold down the center alongside Bradley.

It was disappointing that Gooch was not in great form for this tournament.  His speed might've prevented one or both of those Ghana goals since DeMerit and Bocanegra were a step too slow to stop those efforts.  Boca actually shouldered Gyan pretty forcefully but couldn't take him off the ball.  Boca then seemed to ease off, perhaps because he thought the ball popped up in the air.

It was disappointing that Tim Howard couldn't stop one or both of those Ghana goals, even if neither were his fault.  A great goalkeeper will keep his team in the game when they need him most.  He seemed to slightly hesitate on the first goal.  Okay, yes, it wasn't really his fault.

It was disappointing that we couldn't get that 2nd goal after Donovan's PK to avoid extra time, though we tried.

It was disappointing that no goals came from our 4 strikers this tournament, including Robbie Findley who received most of the playing time next to Jozy.  His speed meant nothing since he showed no touch, no ability to link with Jozy and was no threat to score.  If it were up to me, I would've started Dempsey up top and used the depth of our midfield to our advantage.  Feilhaber contributed more on the field than Findley did.  Though its disappointing that Jozy should've have taken more shots on goal, at least he contributed to the two biggest goals we scored at the end of the last two group games.

It was disappointing that they captured a country's hearts with their admirable and tireless comeback ability but let all momentum slip away by losing to a beatable team.

Its disappointing and embarrassing that we were the only group winner out of 8 who didn't advance to the quarterfinals.

It was disappointing that Landon Donovan, now clearly the greatest US player in history, with his records of 12 WC caps and 5 goals, couldn't advance past Rd 16 in the last WC he'll have in his prime.

It was disappointing because of all the drama and epic moments we had in this WC, we only came away with 1 win.  (Yes, I know we actually won twice.)

Its disappointing that all the buildup and anticipation of the last 4 years, the Gold Cup, the qualifying, the Confed Cup, this entire cycle ended with a anticlimactic loss to a beatable team.  It would have been better to lose to Germany.  It would have been more acceptable to lose in the next round, even against a beatable Uruguay.  There should have been more to this story.

However, I think the fact that there is such disappointment with merely advancing to the knockout stage is really a testament to the fact that good is no longer good enough.  We want to be great.

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