Sunday, July 01, 2007
U-20 World Cup: US ties South Korea
Yesterday (on ESPNU, didn't even know it was a channel), we watched the U-20 MNT tie South Korea in the U-20 World Cup (the tournament opener for the US team). The overwhelming opinion I took away from the game is that we were particularly underwhelming. The first 60 minutes were pure domination by the South Koreans. The US was unable to complete passes through the midfield, maintain possession, create offensive opportunities, contain on the flanks, or successfully mark the Koreans as they made piercing runs through the back line.
Then 52, minutes in, Dax McCarty was subbed in for Danny Szetela. I've never seen Dax play so I don't know much about him. I don't think he was particularly dominant either. But he definitely stopped the bleeding. In fact, the last 30 minutes were dominated by the US with the South Koreans looking dangerous mostly on counter attacks. Dax must have done something right - his work rate was high and he stopped giving away the ball. It is quite possible that the Koreans just didn't have the fitness to maintain the high level of intensity they started the game with either.
Thoughts on players or other items:
1. Chris Seitz (G): A couple awesome saves and some good distribution. Looks like someone to keep on the lookout for.
2. Tim Ward: After the first 10 minutes, I cringed every time he got the ball. He could not pass it to our own team in the first half and we were definitely getting exploited down his side a lot. Second half was slightly better. Looked dangerous in the air when he got forward for a few set plays.
3. Nathan Sturgis: Horrible mistake in the first half almost cost us a goal. Settled down afterwards and was a steady presence in the back. Good ability to contain defensively.
4. Danny Szetela: Great goal in the first half and that was the only shining moment. Needs a new hairstyle.
5. Freddy Adu: I can only hope he just wasn't feeling well. Non-existent except for one run that almost created a goal. If this is the best he can produce on this stage, I am concerned for his future. However, I occasionally catch articles where he apparently dominates and changes games. I have apparently just yet to see it myself.
6. Michael Bradley: Worst game I have ever seen him play. Not sure what the problem was but he seemed to be forcing the ball through too many tight spaces and ended up giving it away more often then not. I kept thinking I would rather have seen him take on the Argentinians in the Copa America...
7. Josmer Altidore: Successfully got called for a foul every time he bumped into a South Korean. There were more then a few dives out there but not a single card for one. Not sure what the ref was thinking. I need to see him get the ball more at his feet. During this game he was a complete non-factor except for his complete whiff of an excellent cross that could have given the team 3 points rather than one.
8. Sal Zizzo: First time I've seen him play - looked pretty strong on the outside, high work rate. Will be interesting to see in future games. Cool last name.
9. The Ref: Like I said, waived off a lot of dives but never carded a single one. Called the US on 26 fouls. Seemed a little too nit picky for me but then failed to call one or two major fouls in my mind.
10. South Koreans: Damn good, aggressive, fast, ran by us like we were standing still, but seemed a little too quick to take a fall for my liking.
We're up against Poland next (Tuesday, July 3 at 5 p.m. ET) and they just beat Brazil 1-0. Should be interesting.