Thursday, September 27, 2007


Mmmm, long list of fuck 'ems to go through this morning.

Fuck Greg Ryan. After the match he said he didn't think the Great Keeper Swap had anything to do with the outcome. Maybe Marta's admittedly amazing individual skills would have brought Brazil out on top at the end no matter what, but Scurry's timing was clearly a bit rusty and, from the looks of things, the defenders did not trust her enough to let balls she was surely screaming for go through. Do you really think she wasn't calling for the ball on the corner in the 20th minute? The one (US midfielder) Osborne came flying in on under no pressure to mis-head into the US goal? What about the through ball late in the game Scurry came out and dove to grab, only to have Rampone come flying in to attempt a clearance that rebounded off the Brazilian attacker just wide of the goal?

No way can you pull that kind of surprise move at this point in the tournament and not rattle your back line. And, more importantly for the long-term success of a program that made an early commitment to a 25-year-old goalkeeper, no way can you pull the rug out from under her like that without serious repercussions for her confidence. As a player, you have to be able to trust your coaches. Baffling moves that get a positive result build the team up. Baffling moves that leave you walking off at the wrong end of the scoreboard tear individual players down.

What is Solo supposed to do now--just tell herself she'll prove Ryan wrong? How, exactly? She proved him right in sticking with her by playing through the early error against North Korea and being a rock for the team. This is her reward for that display of mental toughness--a seat on the bench, with a well-timed poke in the ribs from Natasha Kai reminding her to sit up straight when Kai noticed the FIFA camera beaming Solo's glowering, staring-at-her-shoes form to the stadium bigscreens and televisions around the world. And Scurry? She was put into an impossible position. Nice going-away present she got from her coach.

Fuck Greg Ryan, also, for finally remembering he's allowed mid-game subs but using them, at 0-3 down, to put more defenders on the field. You're already down a player (more on that later) and need to put pressure on goal, so you... take off the fastest player you have on the field (O'Reilly) and bring on Ellertson (who is fast, but was put in to play center back). And then when Markgraf goes down to an ankle injury you bring on... Marian Dalmy? To what end, exactly? To try to keep the score respectable on Brazil's end, rather than trying to get the zero off the scoreboard? God bless Julie Foudy: you know, when you're down 3-0 there's really no point in man-marking Marta. Well, if US Soccer sticks with Ryan as coach, they know now that they can really save the bucks in their travel budget for the Olympics by only bringing 14 players instead of 21. Nice knowing you, Tarp. See ya, Aly. Keep it real, Tash.

Fuck Nicole Petignat. The Swiss referee had been strong in previous games, but here made a complete shit call that directly impacted the match. Boxx was already carrying a yellow from an earlier tackle (fair enough) when Brazilian Christiane tangled feet with her. From behind. Behind play, where the referee wasn't looking. Petignat looked over her shoulder, saw the players on the ground, and popped the second yellow on Boxx. To her credit, Boxxy just left instead of punching Petignat, but the US were left a man down for the entire second half. Already 0-2 down, the sending-off was the final nail in momentum's coffin today. The US were on their heels from the start of the second half and only managed one real chance, which Lilly popped directly to the keeper. So maybe it didn't matter that instead of calling a penalty when a Brazilian defender knocked the ball over the endline with her arm whilst defending against Chalupny's run, she gave a goal kick. Petignat did a decent job of keeping the game under control, but Jesus, the Boxx call was just inexcusable.

And, finally, fuck Brazil, not because they thrashed us, but because of all the diving, flopping, rolling-around-crying like somebody took a sledgehammer to your kneecaps. Yo, Brazil: you're better than that. You've proven that you're better than that, with the individual skills and team creativity to run circles around your opposition. Flopping to the ground with your arms waving ain't fucking jogo bonito. It's ugly. So just fucking play soccer and show you're better than your men.

Mad props to the ESPN commentators, Julie Foudy and Tony DiCicco in particular, for not pulling punches about Ryan's dipshit personnel decisions and the distractions they caused for his team. Foudy left me howling on a couple of her comments, while DiCicco showed remarkable tact and restraint in his critiques of Ryan's moves.

Oh, and look out, anybody who gets in Hope Solo's way the next few days. She had Death Glare radiating out of her in waves.

Sigh. The US really dominated the possession in the first 30 minutes or so, but couldn't finish any of their chances. No attack was discernible in the second half, as they were reduced to chasing the ball; as we saw too many times in group play, the US forwards spent most of their time in the midfield or defensive third just trying to get a touch on the ball. Time to reassess the system (4-3-3, you're so done), competition schedule, and game management.

edited to add: Mad props, also, to Marta. She's magic on the ball.


Anonymous said...

2nd all the fucks.

I think this photo sums this up

a.g. said...

Nice critique. I'm right there with you. Maybe this'll be somewhat like the U.S.'s loss to Norway in the WWC in 1995 and it will fuel them in years to come...