Monday, June 12, 2006


The Monk is in trial again this week and only saw part of today's game against the Czech Republic and had a similar reaction to Sports Illustrated's headline after the result came through: the US waited four years for THIS?

The US lost to the Czechs 3-0 and according to MonkfriendG the game wasn't that close. Bad news all around. I saw most of the second half and the US looked absolutely limp. Consider: in the UEFA Cup, the second-class all-Europe tournament, English team Middlesbrough TWICE came back from 3-0 aggregate goal deficits -- The Monk witnessed the second time and saw the energy, desire, determination and effort of that team. But in the WORLD CUP, the US looked flat, listless and beaten at the second half kickoff and just simply stank. Very poor effort.

Is the US even capable of scoring on Italy, famed for its flat-back four and stifling defense -- the same style and defense that makes Juventus perennial threat to win Italy's top soccer prize, the Scudetto in Serie A (with some help from the refs, apparently)? Is the US even capable of firing out on offense against the Italians and doing anything effective? Today's effort lacked any coherence on offense except when Eddie Johnson was on or near the ball. Will Bruce Arena even pull the trigger and pull some of the stiffs off the pitch and play O'Brien and Johnson as long as he can Saturday?

The US is now in a must-win position and has never won a World Cup game in Europe. If the US is even close to the capability that its #5 world ranking (HA!) implies, it needs to show that Saturday.

Here's the ugly fact: the US is now seeking to become just the second team since the World Cup went to the 32-team/8-group format in 1998 to lose its first match and advance to the knockout stages. The other team to do so was Turkey, which faced Brazil in its opener (so it had an excuse for honking), was one of the three best teams in the Japan half of that Cup bracket and ended up taking third place. This sick US team doesn't look like it has anything near that character.

P.S. -- Congrats to the Soccerroos. The Aussies fell behind Japan 1-0, were stifled by good goalkeeping for 80 minutes, then unloaded three goals in nine minutes to beat Japan 3-1. Good on ya.

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