Team USA, Thanks for the Memories

The dream is over… Team USA fell to Ghana, 1-2, in the Round of 16, thereby ending their World Cup run.

Though I am Mexican, when Mexico loses tomorrow against Argentina, I will not be as distraught as I was after Team USA’s loss. For the simple reason that México is not expected to win, and even if a miracle happens, they’re up against the winner of Germany and England in the quarterfinals. Good luck with that one…

The U.S. on the other hand had the easiest path to the semis in recent memory. Get past Ghana and play the winner of Uruguay-South Korea (Uruguay won today). Not exactly a gauntlet of fútbol powerhouses.

I defer to the experten for the technical breakdown of this match.

That doesn’t mean I don’t have any thoughts on what transpired before the eyes of our 42nd President (below, Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)


That guy to his left looks vaguely familiar…

THE BAD

I don’t know why Robbie Findley started today for the U.S. team. Findley looks out of his depth on this grandest of stages. Still don’t know why Bradley insists on bringing the very skillful Benny Feilhaber off the bench, when he could start him and have Clint Dempsey play up front with Jozy.

Speaking of Jozy, he has horrible touch for a center forward. He’s clumsy with the ball (reminds me of a bigger and stronger Guille Franco) and he needs to develop a lighter touch. This was laid bare on that breakaway where he advanced the ball too far allowing the keeper to snap up the ball.

Rico but not very suave, Ricardo Clark is supposed to be a holding midfielder, that is a defensive midfielder. Yet against England and today against Ghana, his turnovers resulted in scores for the opposition. Methinks his 2010 World Cup marks the end of his tenure with the national team.

Tim Howard was not himself today. I still am trying to understand how Kevin-Prince Boateng got that shot past Howard. Boateng didn’t have a shot at the far post yet Howard defended it like he did, and therefore Boateng was able to rifle the Jabulani to the near post. Not saying the score was Howard’s fault, actually both scores were the results of defensive lapses. As an aside, how cool was that shot of the 2 keepers going for the ball near the end of the match as the U.S. desperately sought to equalize and send it to a shootout?

(Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

Speaking of Boateng, that is one dirty player. This is the guy who took out German captain Michael Ballack during the FA Cup final right before the World Cup. The injury caused Ballack to miss representing his nation in South Africa. Boateng, who scored Ghana’s first goal and about 5 kicks to Donovan’s shins, ended up being leaving the match due to injury… somewhere Ballack laughs a guttural German laugh.

THE GOOD
What can you say about Michael Bradley? This kid was everywhere: winning balls, dropping pinpoint long passes, dicing through the Ghanian lines, taking shots on goal. Doing everything to pull his team ahead. His play reminded me of how people have described Franz “Der Kaiser” Beckenbauer’s effortless play. Perhaps Bradley has a earned a nickname other than “the coach’s son”, how about “The American Kaiser”? The consensus is that Bradley (below, Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images), who plays for German side Borussia Mönchengladbach, will have numerous top European clubs bidding for his services after the World Cup.

Landon Donovan, like Bradley, was a ubiquitous presence on the pitch. After Clint Dempsey was tackled in the box and awarded a penalty kick, Donovan scored with a masterful shot just inside the right post. A friend of mine pointed out that Donovan has a knack to score off Dempsey’s chances.

Super sub, Benny Feilhaber, once again proved that he should have been in the starting XI. His flair and creativity bring something different to this squad, he is a difference maker, I’m sorry that Bradley didn’t see it fit to give him a starting spot. And Benny, about what you did to my beloved Tri back in ’07, I ain’t mad at cha…

THE MEMORIES

Team USA,
Due to circumstances beyond my control, you will never be my #1 national team, that place belongs solely to my homeland’s XI, El Tricolor De Todos Los Mexicanos. However, you are my son’s national team and the team which represents the great nation which has afforded scores of immigrants like myself with untold opportunity. I have been a fan since Italia ’90 and have enjoyed the progress you have made since. Hold your heads high for your accomplishments in this World Cup. Yes, I know what you accomplished in South Africa is not as great as getting to the quarterfinals (at the expense of my Tri no less!) in 2002, but thank you for providing one shining moment that will live in our memories.

Here’s the video of that shining moment overlaid with the voice of the man, the myth, the legend, Andrés Cantor.

USA! USA! USA!

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