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ARG v. USA - June 8 at Giants Stadium


VPjr

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I've just returned from a weekend in New York City. I took in last night's USA-Argentina friendly at Giants Stadium in the New Jersey Swamplands.

Atmosphere was excellent. 78,000 fans (85% of whom were supporting Argentina) packed the place. Sam's Army was out in full voice and had a couple good tifo displays.

The pitch looked great. The overlaid grass on top of the Fieldturf and, unlike the Canada v Brazil match in Seatle, the grass help up well.

Argentina started many of its best known players (Messi, Aguero, Mascherano, Gago, maxi Rodriguez, etc..). The US had pretty close to an A roster as well (Donavan, Johnson, Dempsey, Bradley, Maestroenni, Onyewu, Howard,etc..)

Final Score 0-0. If ever a scoreline didn't tell the whole story, this is it.

The US were totally dominated by Argentina, especially in the 1st half while Messi and Aguerro were working together. Julio Cruz literally had 3 clear or semi clear breaks on goal that Tim Howard somehow saved. If Cruz can't make the best of service from Messi, he's toast. When Tevez returns to the team, Cruz is going to be on the outside looking in.

Messi is pure magic. To be 20 rows away from this man was an absolute trea. I'm jealous that Jeffrey gets to see him every other week at Barca. The only criticism of Messi last night was that he tried to please the crowd a bit too much. Early on, he was trying to go through the entire US Defense by himself. The US were the far inferior team but they weren't going to let Messi embarass them like that.

Aguero is something special too. He had Messi should have linked for at least 2 goals in the 1st half but they didn't seem to be totally on the same page together last night. Both did brilliant things but not at the right time.

The US were putrid. The US fans I spoke to after the game seemed pleased with the result. I asked if they watched the same game I watched. The US barely put up a fight. Abondanzieri barely had to make 2 saves all game. Eddie Johnson is terrible. He'll be back in the MLS inside 2 years in my opinion unless he turns it around completely. Landon Donavan is so totally overrated, its a joke. I was embarrased for him at times last night. I kept yelling "you're not good enough" everytime he decided to try to run at the Argentine Defense. He was making it so easy to create turnovers and he showed little interest in running back to make up for his boneheaded decision (as opposed to Argentine forwards and midfielders who hauled ass everytime they lost a ball to try to get it back. At one point, Gago sprinted back 45-50 yards to dispossess Donavan outside the Arg 18 yard box...Landon had no idea where he came from).

2nd half, Argentina was less cohesive as the coaching staff ran out 6 subs to keep the starters fresh for upcoming WCQ. The US made their share of subs too, including Freddy Adu (not a factor) Mo Edu (he played poorly if I must be honest).

Best American was Tim Howard, followed closely by Michael Bradley. Onyewu impressed me at times.

Messi and Gago were the best Argies.

Worst part of the game was the horrible CONCACAF refs (crew was from El Salvador). they lost control of the game at times and didn't have the stones to make the necessary tough calls. At one point in the 2nd half, Aguero was sent in alone and Howard stretched out and hauled Kun down in the box. He may have attempted to get the ball but no contact with the ball was made but Aguero was sent tumbling. It was a clear PK but it went uncalled. The US was constantly shirt pulling, bowling over Argentine ball handlers, etc... and did not get penalized enough.

In terms of what this game means for Canada....I actually think we are better than the US at the "skill" positions, especially midfield. The US is totally unable to build their attack through the midfield. The only way the US can score is from set pieces/corners because they have really big guys on D and upfront who are pretty good with their heads. Other than set pieces, they were content with Route 1 style football, which didn't work in the slightest. It's pathetic to watch and totally the opposite of the current Canadian MNT.

The US are pretty strong in net. Howard is for real (very good ball stopper...not a great kicking game though). The US defensive unit was as organized as can be expected when playing the most creative team in the world. That's where Canada is at a disadvantage. We don't have the quality in net that the US does and our D is not as big or strong as the US group is.

I really want to see a Canada-US rematch of the GC semi-final. i think our boys can take 'em.

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From the reports I've read Howard was man of the match. Plain and simple. I kinda like Onyewu and Bradley, which given their "grit" shouldn't surprise anyone but Onyewu is a CONCACAF accident waiting to happen as far as I'm concerned. A somewhat less graceful version of Paul Fenwick as it were.

As you mentioned ref'ing may be an issue given the style of play the US of A is employing these days. Sure, maybe not in a friendly but when the chips are on the table...

Set plays may be very important to the USA but haven't they always been and is that such a problem? Last stats I remember place better than a third of all goals scored coming from set plays and given the CONCACAF competition the USA will face I think their possession skills (or lack there of) won't be high-lighted.

Can't say I'm disappointed to hear your 1st hand report. Especially given that it seems to confirm a lot of the media reports out there these days. That is to say that the Yanks may be far from the dominant CONCACAF side they've pretended to be these past couple of years. That their luck and confidence is running out.

But, it'll be next year before we face them in The Hex and A LOT can change between now and then.

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Good match report VPjr. Being a Fulham supporter I know how dangerous Boca is from set pieces but he's not an exceptional defender. Their back four are going to get their ankles broken by skilled dribblers. They lack pace so will have to defend deep, where all it takes is one wrong foot and the attacker has a shot on goal. Now that the world knows about the US they lack the element of surprise as well. Things not looking very rosy for them at the moment.

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quote:Originally posted by Cheeta

From the reports I've read Howard was man of the match. Plain and simple.

Absolutely...Howard was incredible. Julio Cruz was so frustrated by his numerous big saves (and the rest of the Argentines were frustrated with Cruz....The Argetnine fans around me had no love for the big Inter goal scorer)

A performance like that will definitely help Howard's stock rise as a big time GK. He's in a good spot with Everton but I could see him being a highly coveted keeper when his contract ends.

Howard is the single biggest advantage the US has over Canada (and Mexico for that matter) right now.

quote:Originally posted by Cheeta

I kinda like Onyewu and Bradley, which given their "grit" shouldn't surprise anyone but Onyewu is a CONCACAF accident waiting to happen as far as I'm concerned. A somewhat less graceful version of Paul Fenwick as it were.

Onyewu is not graceful but he held his own. He almost had a goal too in the 2nd half but his booming header hit the crossbar. That was really the only real threat to score.

Bradley is more than just gritty. Too me, he's the best US outfield player by a mile. He's composed, a very accurate passer, tough on the ball, works hard to get the ball back....all the things you want from a holding MF but also has the ability to put the ball in the net, as was witnessed this season for his club side in Holland. I was quite impressed with the young man. In fact, he was the only US player other than Howard that I would give a rating of better than 7 of 10 for this match. The others were lucky to get a 4 or 5.

quote:Originally posted by Cheeta

As you mentioned ref'ing may be an issue given the style of play the US of A is employing these days. Sure, maybe not in a friendly but when the chips are on the table...

The refs were a joke. All that a player ever wants is consistency but you just could not get a handle of what these refs would call and would not. The Argies were getting pissed (of course, they want every call when they get knocked over, which is also wrong).

The US actually benefitted quite a bit from the referees generosity. It's the only reason, in my mind, that the Argentines got no goals past Howard. They were getting pulled, pushed and knocked over all over the park. They employed the same tactics that Brazil used to defeat Argentina at the Copa America final (Foul all the time, stay away from cards, try to counterattack).

quote:Originally posted by Cheeta

Can't say I'm disappointed to hear your 1st hand report. Especially given that it seems to confirm a lot of the media reports out there these days. That is to say that the Yanks may be far from the dominant CONCACAF side they've pretended to be these past couple of years. That their luck and confidence is running out.

This US team is ripe for the picking. Of course, there is lots of time before the next WC and I do think they are the 2nd or 3rd best team in CONCACAF. I just think that we can beat them with our A lineup.

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quote:Originally posted by VPjr

The US fans I spoke to after the game seemed pleased with the result. I asked if they watched the same game I watched.

Then I guess you must have been talking to ESPN Soccernet's Carlisle and Galarcep, because I've just finished reading their impressions of the match.;)

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VPjr.

Re; Bradley.

Didn't mean to create an impression that I found his grit as his principle attribute. He's a quick player with two good feet who sees the field well and although he may be a reactionary type player (not that there is anything wrong with that) he is smart enough, skilled enough, and brave enought to play the linking or goal scoring role. He can be bold.

Which when blended with his type of competitive intensity creates a very appealing picture for a young player. Even given his age he still mostly knows how to use that base testosterone to his advantage. Dosen't sulk, doesn't *ahem*...usualy get pissed off and go around kicking people etc. Just grits his teeth "ratchets it up" and goes about the business.

I admit I find that sort of emotional quality unusual in the better skilled American players. McBride has it in a bit of a different style. Bradly may eventually mirrow that McBride competitive focus as he matures.

Re; Howard.

Not sure you where around this board when Howard moved overseas but I slammed him pretty hard. And he had it coming, in spades. But after drifting downstream on the Mersey he's developed into a real honest to goodness keeper. After Friedel retired I though we'd be okay but that bloody Howard. He's going to haunt us for years....

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quote:Originally posted by Cheeta

VPjr.

Re; Bradley.

Didn't mean to create an impression that I found his grit as his principle attribute. He's a quick player with two good feet who sees the field well and although he may be a reactionary type player (not that there is anything wrong with that) he is smart enough, skilled enough, and brave enought to play the linking or goal scoring role. He can be bold.

Which when blended with his type of competitive intensity creates a very appealing picture for a young player. Even given his age he still mostly knows how to use that base testosterone to his advantage. Dosen't sulk, doesn't *ahem*...usualy get pissed off and go around kicking people etc. Just grits his teeth "ratchets it up" and goes about the business.

I admit I find that sort of emotional quality unusual in the better skilled American players. McBride has it in a bit of a different style. Bradly may eventually mirrow that McBride competitive focus as he matures.

Re; Howard.

Not sure you where around this board when Howard moved overseas but I slammed him pretty hard. And he had it coming, in spades. But after drifting downstream on the Mersey he's developed into a real honest to goodness keeper. After Friedel retired I though we'd be okay but that bloody Howard. He's going to haunt us for years....

Excellent assessment of both players Cheeta.

Howard's only weakness I can see is his kicking game. He just kicks it to nowhere (including knocking one ball out for a throw-in early in the 1st half, drawing boos and laughs). It's not a big deal but its always nice to have a keeper who can effectively help start the offensive push up the field.

In comparison, Abondanzieri was unbelievable. Virtually everytime he hoofed the ball upfield, it would always come down in a position where an Argentine midfielder or forward could do something positive with it. I was fixated on how accurate his kicks were.

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