Monday, June 9, 2008

Argy Bargy and and the English tailgate.

Sunday 8th June 2008. USA V ARGENTINA.

95 degrees. Hot dogs and a football. All of the ingredients for heat stroke or a heart attack you are saying to yourself. Not for us U.F'ers. Oh no. Mother nature will have to make me sweat more than I did yesterday and rain harder than she did last night to spoil my fun. She tried pretty hard...Bitch!

4.30pm. We pull into the car park (sorry..Parking lot) and immediately David Hirshey displayed his Cassandra complex bemoaning our location and the 10 min walk to the gate. "It'll take and hour....we'll die on the way....No one will find us.....The world will end". Packimo and I flip the boot (sorry..Trunk) and start to remove items from coolers as if we have some idea about what we are doing. All around us elaborate tail gate parties are taking shape. Tents are erected, chairs removed and opened, grills lit, flags raised and music switched on. Wow..just witnessing the effort involved for a couple of hours of 'hanging out' made me sweat. But we were not tailgating like those people... oh no. I am English readers. I wouldn't have a clue about any of that, you see I had 4 disposable grills from stop and shop and some cardboard spatulas made from a empty case of beer. Get in! It was a pathetic sight. Mini vans filled with years of BBQ expertise and experience passed by shooting pity in our direction.

The $2.99 grills were on fire. Beer was flowing. Header tennis was underway. All we needed now was people.... They came, they had a hot dog, they played football. They laughed at our grills. Where was Lingering Bursitis? This was his party. He arranged the trip. It was his cooler I was removing warm turkey burgers from. He had sent out 547 emails to ensure a smooth day out for all involved and worried like a teenage girl.

LB:"We just got off the bus...Where are you parked."
Me: "6 A Lingering. Right by the race track."
LB:"Ok mate see you in a minute."

Twenty mins later and Lingering had found his way to the other side of the stadium. He called from the Izod center, He called from the bubble, he called from this gate and he called from that gate. "Where are you?".

It took Lingering exactly 1 hour from getting off the bus, a mere 4 1/2 mins meander to our south, to finding us. He is the only person I know who would probably need a GPS unit to get himself home from the local pub. He should be ashamed! Still... Packard was attempting to bust the UF keepy up record of 6 and Krieg had just fallen over the ball for the tenth time so we were keeping ourselves amused. Incidentally the U.F 'tailgate tosser' award was handed to Krieg at 5.55pm when he aimed a pass in one direction and watched in horror as the ball ended up in the back of the car after taking out a disposable grill and 2 bottles of beer. He was banned from playing after that.

7.30pm. The game itself.

I don't hide my disdain ....ok I don't hide my hatred of Argentine football. The hand of god. That dirt bag Simeone. Let's face it we have history and I wanted no more from this game than for Argentina to slip up. The result was pleasing for the US contingent as it showed a distinct improvement but lets face it...What happened in the second half of this game meant nothing. The first half were the chosen 11. The best available to both teams and the choice of both managers.

Friendlies are designed to tweak your side ahead of competitive fixtures and then to use the second half to try out different personnel (who may be up for it but are not the first choice). This game was no different.

Argentina were fluid in the first half. They found space, they passed the ball and they created numerous chances. Tim Howard had an outstanding first half and his heroics saved team U.S.A from the long half time stroll to the dressing room 3 down at least. It was clear to see the gulf in class. Argentina played flowing football effortlessly. The USA had absolutely nothing going forward. Eddie Johnson directed a header goalwards in the 42nd minute. It was his first real touch of the game. Donovan was just as invisible.

Howard through the midfield, the US are not a bad team!... but they really have no ideas once they look for the final ball. Beasley has immense pace but never seemed to make it count. Whenever he had the ball wide he cut back in and played back through the middle. He seemed lost when presented with the opportunity to penetrate the final third. Almost as if he and Dempsey (playing wide right) had no confidence in the front two's ability to hold the ball and produce chances.

The Argentina fans started to 'ole' every pass after ten mins and this summed up the first period.

Half time 0-0.

The second half saw a number of substitutions, red cards and the absence of Messi. Argentina passed the ball around and enjoyed attacks on the break. They have two very important games coming up (including their big grudge match with rivals Brazil) and their second half performance showed it.

The U.S used their own subs including the young (yeah right) Freddy Adu. He joined his over rated colleague Donovan in producing nada. Donovan enjoyed possession in the second half and made several short runs before being stripped of the ball. He appears to have no understanding that he is in a team and greedily, naively, attempted to take on the defence belonging to the worlds best team. This may be effective when you are playing Kansas City but as he learned (or not) in the last World Cup this does not have any effect when presented with real defenders. Someone should share this info with Landycakes as soon as possible.

On the whole the U.S enjoyed a lot more possession in the second half and nearly stole the game when Onyewu rattled the crossbar shortly after the break. I couldn't help thinking that if they had two forwards that could hold the ball instead of waste it the midfield would have more confidence when attacking. This result will be satisfying for Bob Bradley but not with most Americans as the lack of shooting opportunities should cause real concern. They also failed to find the net in recent games against England and Spain.

Final 0-0.

Man of the match: Fernando Gago. He owned the first half. Every attack involved him, he moved the ball from one side of the field to the other and never stopped looking for space or passing opportunities. He sat deep and pulled the strings. At 22 and with only 15 caps this is one player to watch. He will soon be ranked as one of the worlds best for sure.

Knob of the match: The Ref. He really was a useless tosser.



Precious Roy said...

I only caught about the last 25 minutes so can't say much except...

A) Adu made a couple of great runs through the defense late. Granted he still lacked the quality on that last touch, but after the skies opened up he looked downright dangerous. And it seems like the first time he tried to take over the game. Kind of nice to see. Don't think he's overrated. He's barely 20.

B) Not too concerned about the lack of scoring opportunities in the troika of matches because we are still a cut below Spain, England and Argentina. And without goal scorers we'll stay there. But at least our overall quality of play let's us play with them for long stretches now. It might take another generation of players before we make that next leap but think how much better we've gotten since, say, the WC in France.

C) Fuck, that last 20 minutes was just exciting futbol. At one moment I'm hoping to hold on to the draw, the next thinking we've got legit chances to win.

Goat said...

Perhaps someone who was there can clear this up for me--what the fuck happened to get Mastroeni his second yellow? Could the ref have been a big enough dumbfuck to confuse him with Maurice Edu? I mean I can sorta see confusing Edu and Adu but seriously, what the fuck?

Bigus Dickus said...

Freddy Adu is 20? PR..If he is a day under 26 I'll be a monkeys uncle.

Goat. The ref went to hand a card out to edu but the lino said that Mastroeni was to blame but he was a little confused. Either way he convinced the ref he was right and hey presto. Early bath.

Lingering Bursitis said...

I will say the following things:

1. It was Ian's fault.
2. We'd been drinking.
3. It was too hot to think!
4. To reiterate, it was Ian's fault.

Ian said...

Hey....if not for that monstrosity of Giants stadium v 2.2121 mark 2, we totally went the right way. How was I supposed to know that 8A and 6A were on different ends of the earth?