World Cup 2006: The nightmare year that was US soccer

2002 is a distant dream for US soccer enthusiasts. This year showed where the US soccer team actually lies in the world order. Being outplayed by the Czech Republic, barely surviving a bloody match against Italy, and then falling against Ghana showed the naivety of the US team. Bruce Arena’s inflexiblity in allowing players to play in their natural positions and then keeping his in form players out of the line up cost the US. As did his messianic faith in Claudio Reyna whose plodding form reduced the US attack to a standstill. Landon Donovan was virtually absent in this World Cup.
Clint Dempsey and Bobby Convey were the best players but were first victims of not playing their positions and then being under utilized. The US played their best match against Ghana but it would be a stretch to say that about the first half. It was only when Reyna was taken off in the game, we finally saw the attack flowing with Beasley slotting a delicious cross behind the Ghana team and Dempsey finishing off that fine play. Convey brought in a lot of energy up the left flank and his speed and change of pace really bothered the Ghana defence.
Two highlights or lowlights: Haminu Dramani stripping the ball from a slow reacting Reyna and then racing in for the first goal. Razak Pimpong’s fine piece of acting as he lay writhing in the penalty box after Onyewu won a clean header. Stephane Appiah put Ghana up for good with the resulting penalty.
Bruce Arena was let go and Claudio Reyna retires from international soccer. Dave O’Brien and Marcelo Balboa make a hash of the TV coverage. Juergen Klinsmann turns down the US job.
The year of US soccer is captured in this gestalt: Slow, reactive, and naive.

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