Thursday, September 08, 2005

Bloated Expectations

Johnson Chases (AP)
Originally uploaded by mr fish.

Remember the days, not too long ago, that the US feared playing World Cup Qualifiers in Central America? During the last qualifying cycle, the US was jobbed on a fantasy pk call in Costa Rica to drop a game, and the same happened in Guatemala to turn a win into a tie. This time around, of course, the road has been kind to the US, and even when Bruce Arena trots out a young b-team on the road in CONCACAF, the expectation is a victory. Last night’s scoreless draw in Guatemala City was an ok result, and the defense played well, but the Yanks could have easily won the match by three goals if its finishing was sharper.

Here’s a look at who helped their Deutschland dreams last night, and who hindered them.

Marcus Hahnemann: Make some dazzling saves in net, and is in line for the #2 keeper position, assuming Sir Alex doesn’t start playing Tim Howard this season.

Bobby Convey: Generated most of the early scoring chances for the US on the left wing, and punished the Guatemalan defenders who tried to take him on 1-on-1.

Jimmy Conrad: A steady, if not solid match in the center back position. Should get playing time in Costa Rica and vs. Panama. A strong defensive sub prospect for Germany.

Chris Albright: I’m not a fan, but he had a good match last night. Imposing size, especially vs. the vertically-challenged chapines.

Taylor Twellman: Oy. Taylor. You wonder when the kid will snap and pick the ball up and throw it in the goal. He runs forever, and helps break up plays on D, (Capt. Kirk Voice) But. He. Just. Can’t. Score.

Clint Dempsey: Was he tired? Did he have a stomach problem? What an off match. Hey kid, Bruce believes in you – he even tried you in two positions last night to find a fit for you. You’ve got to start delivering out there.

Greg Vanney: Yuck. May have played himself off next summer’s squad. Gave up too many balls, hit too many sightless clearing passes to the opposition.

Fair-to-middling: Marshall, Quaranta, Cunningham, Johnson

Already there: Donovan, Mastroeni

Incomplete: Ralston

Oh, and Mr. Hall-of-fame Balboa. It’s MAS-TRO-ENN-EE, not MAS-TREE-OH-NEE. Say it, just like it reads, ok? Ok.

That giant sucking sound
The Metro aren’t going to get to the playoffs by drawing every match. That sound you hear is the season slipping away. Saturday, Ante Razov hit a late ball to salvage another home draw, 2-2 vs. KC, leaving Metro seven points out of the playoffs with seven matches to play, and Columbus is coming up on the outside. Luckily, DC will have the Copa Sudamericana to worry about down the MLS stretch. Things are so bleak among Metro faithful that fans hope the team tanks to get coach Bob Bradley a pink slip.

The Current picture:
Team, Pts, GD, Matches remaining (Home/Away), Most Possible Points
1. New England 48, +17, (4/3), 69
2. Kansas City 42, +11, (4/2), 60
3. Chicago 42, +1, (2/4), 60
4. DC United 41, +14, (3/3), 59
MetroStars 34, +3, (2/5), 55
Columbus 30, -8 (3/5) 54

Matches this week:
Sat 9/10: NE vs. CMB, KC vs. MET, FCD vs. DCU

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