Soccer friendlies: USA shows life, Ukraine look dangerous, and Robin Van Persie serves notice

USA vs Latvia
USA beat Latvia in their last friendly, 1-0 before they start their WC campaign against the Czech Republic on June 12th. There were encouraging sings as Brian McBride scored the winning goal and Eddie Johnson showed some of the old touch that had deserted him for a while. But the midfield is a work in progress with the chronically injured Claudio Reyna and John O’Brien. This match saw O’Brien play for 65 minutes and he showed a bit of the old flair. DeMarcus Beasley was shunted to the right midfield, a position that he plays for PSV Eindhoven. But a lot of fine tuning is still going on with the team.
The US plays with the Czech Republic, Ghana, and Italy in Group E
Croatia vs Iran
Croatia and Iran drew 2-2 and Iran showed that they could surprise quite a few teams with a nice first timer goal from Ali Karimi. The Croatians were let down by a horrible defensive lapse in front of the box, one which led to Iran scoring their second goal. They looked a trifle casual whereas the Iranians seemed pretty revved up and looked dangerous through Ali Karimi and Vahid Hashemian. The Croatians equalized through Marko Babic’s PK in injury time.
Iran is in Group D with Angola, Mexico, and Portugal.
Croatia in Group F with Brazil, Japan, and Australia.
Ukraine vs Costa Rica
Ukraine showed how dangerous it can be by whopping Costa Rica 4-0, in a match that Andriy Shevchenko sat out because of injury. But Ukraine wunderkid Andriy Vorobei showed his form by scoring one of the goals. This WC should see plenty of the two Andriys. Costa Rica fielded what seemed to be their first XI with captain Paulo Wanchope playing in the second half.
Ukraine is in Group H with Spain, Tunisia, and Saudi Arabia
Costa Rica plays with Germany, Poland, and Ecuador in Group A
France vs Mexico
France beat Mexico 1-0 through Florent Malouda’s goal just befor halftime. This was also Zizou’s 100th international and he was given a standing ovation. But his game was nothing to write home about and he was substituted by Vikash Dhorasso in the second half. The match also showed Marseille prodigy Franck Ribeiry impress with his swift and nifty running, earning his first cap. Mexico had plenty of possession but failed to threaten until captain Rafael Marquez’s 36th-minute header went just over.
France is in Group G with South Korea, Togo, and Switzerland
Mexico is in Group D with Angola, Iran, and Portugal.
Netherlands vs Cameroun
Netherlands beat Cameroun 1-0 through Ruud Van Nistelrooy’s goal in the 23rd minute. The Dutch strikers featured an all Premiership line up with Nistelrooy, Robin Van Persie, and Arjen Robben. And Van Persie looked dangerous, time and time again drawing the Camerounians into fouls. Cameroun played without Samuel Eto’o. Some fine goalkeeping by Idriss Kameni kept the margin respectable.
Netherlands is in Group C with Argentina, Ivory Coast, and Serbia Montenegro.
Switzerland vs Ivory Coast
Switzerland drew with the Ivory Coast 1-1, going ahead with a goal by Tranquillo Barnetta but the Ivory Coast came back through Emerse Fae’s 25 yard shot that beat goalkeeper Pascal Zuberbuhler.
Switzerland is in Group G with France, South Korea, and Togo
Ivory Coast plays in Group C with Argentina, Serbia Montenegro, and Netherlands.
In other matches Germany pasted Luxembourg 7-0, Portugal outclassed the Cape Verde Islands 4-1, Ecuador beat Macedonia 2-1, Wales beat Trinidad and Tobago 2-1, Serbia-Montenegro drew with Uruguay 1-1, and Spain drew with Russia 0-0.
For more on the matches

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