Nobody Does it Better



Today’s friendly in Krakow against Poland, was exactly that: a friendly which should not be  considered some sort of great conquering victory of the US National Team. Sure you’d rather win than lose these sorts of matches, but realistically I still saw some of the same issues that have worried me about the United States since the end World Cup 2006 in this performance.

One thing I was overly pleased with was the outstanding play of Landon Donovan. For all the criticisms of Donovan from some quarters of the American soccer community, he continues to be hands down the best player the United States has produced in this particular generation. Those who criticize him and make up silly nicknames do not understand soccer in this country and the types of quality Donovan brings to the field.

Donovan’s set piece taking in the Poland match was reminiscent of his early days on the national team. Even better was to watch Donovan’s breakaway. While he didn’t finish the goal off, my point to so many critics of Donovan and of MLS in general has been consistent: Landon Donovan is more fit and has greater pace than almost any player on the planet. While many of these same fans are obsessed with speed and feel MLS is somehow inferior to leagues in Europe simply because it is slower paced (by that logic the Mexican league which is hands down better than MLS would be in an even lower tier because it is  even slower than MLS) and by extension Donovan is inferior to any player in Europe need to watch the Poland match. Having been returned to midfield along side Clint Dempsey, the two played well off one another and linked together well with a rather inept striker tandem.

On his day nobody does it better than Donovan. The loudmouth critics can climb under a rock for now, as Landon Donovan has once again fired a statement across the bow as to his quality and pedigree. Thank goodness the US National Team, deficient in so many other areas has his services whenever needed.

Other Thoughts

  • I’m pretty disappointed Bob Bradley continues to call Eddie Johnson into the squad and worse yet, starts him. I don’t care if he isn’t as disoriented at Fulham as many of us thought he would be. Johnson has now proven over the better part of three years he doesn’t belong in international football. Despite his pace the game moves too quickly for him and his absolute brain cramp in what should have been an easy goal is the final proof that he cannot hack on this level. You cannot keep calling someone in who has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that he cannot think himself through these situations.
  • I know I’m going to catch hell for this but I really believe Heath Pearce is substantially better than Jonathan Bornstien. I’ve always thought that he had more quality but felt Pearce was mentally a mess. Now that Pearce has fought his way back into the Hansa Rostock setup after being told he’d never play again for the club and is now showing a technical skill and flair severely lacking a year ago, he’s got to be the first choice left back.
  • Carlos Bocanegra had his best game for the U.S. since the 2003 Gold Cup.
  • Oguchi Onyewu continued his strong recent form for both club and country with an outstanding game
  • Good to see Josh Wolff back on the national team. I still would take Wolff in a heartbeat over Eddie Johnson or Taylor Twellman.
  • The linkup between Michael Bradley and Rico Clark which was so poor against Mexico was outstanding today.
  • To my co-host Dave Denholm:  a reason exists why I like Eddie Lewis so much even at his advanced age. He still is a better crosser of the ball than anyone we have and proved once again today he has a better left foot than anyone we have. Great goal for Lewis and despite being almost 34, he has to be part of the qualifying campaign for the U.S.
  • Didn’t like the new uniforms? Blame Nike. Check out this gem from Phil Mushnick about my favorite College Basketball team’s Nike uniform for the NCAA Tournament:


“So all these years you thought Miami’s school colors were green, orange and white. They are, even though yesterday its basketball team wore – What else? – its Nike-issue black uniforms.”     ——-Phil Mushnick, NY Post 3/24/2008

In fact it’s not just Miami. Oregon, Florida, South Carolina and Duke also have black issued Nike uniforms for “big games” in Basketball while Florida State, Oregon and Georgia have black Nike issued uniforms for “big games” in Football. So we should have all seen this coming. At least Nike hasn’t developed the glow in the dark uniforms it did for Oregon Football yet for the US National Team!

6 thoughts on “Nobody Does it Better”

  1. So did Poland field their full national team? If not, how close was it to their A team?

    I could hear chants of USA, USA. How many US fans were there?

    That’s 3 wins in a row against Poland, so we pretty much own them. I realize that this was just a friendly, but I doubt that means Poland is OK with losing 3-0 at home, in front of a packed stadium, no matter who they’re playing. That being said, can an honest assessment our quality compared to European sides be made from this one game?

    Predictions for the game against England?

  2. Kartik:

    You may recall your recent predictions for a US defeat in Poland and how the entire European tour would be a major setback. Well far from it!

    The US romp over Poland showed a maturing team and one who now knows how to play with each other. We have seen how the defense has come along from complete disorganization to a well schooled group who can add scoring punch. Who was it that had doubts on Tim Howard? In my book he continues to show great leadership each time he takes the field.

    What is even more great to see is the great depth. The US was making substitutions late in the game with no loss of quality. Few teams can do that. All of this with are young stars no where to be found. Think what the score would of been with Adu and Altidore!

  3. Player by player England is still far superior to the US. In fact, so is Poland. Bandetto, love you enthusiasm always but our last loss to Poland was the one that mattered: in the World Cup where they killed us within what seemed like the first minute.

    However unlike England we have a national system, a national training facility, a national academy, etc, etc. We have a manager who uses tactics in Bob Bradley and picks his team accordingly to the tactics he plays.

    English managers seem to always play a flat 4-4-2 and the players get bunched up and don’t keep their shape well even in that rather simple formation.

    Johnathan said that he saw Capello’s press conference and the little he did in England he complained about the lack of tactical savvy of his players. England is going nowhere if a tactical genius like Capello can’t get his players to buy in to his system. For all the blame thrown at Macca, English football is a mess and this precisely why I don’t want MLS replicating the Premier League importing tons of foreign players and limiting the amount of leadership roles our guys have on the field.

    I’ve been accused of being a natavist and a protectionist. While in political discourse I do not embrace those labels, when it comes to soccer I do. The national team is priority one. We are not a club driven country for this game the way many around the globe are. Clubs are important in my world view but the national team is more important. That’s why I feel the way I do on this issue. If I were a proponent of a club and felt it was more important than the national team I would have the opposite view.

  4. Eddie Johnson, I couldn’t agree more. Unless he is at a full sprint, he seems to be ineffective. He can’t control the ball in tight spaces, and his passing last night was frequently way off. Speed is one thing, but if you can’t control the ball, how can you score. I think for now his time with the national team should end, unless he is able to show some better ball handling skills. I would’ve much rather seen Charlie Davies get another chance at the senior level then Eddie, granted he wasn’t great with the U-23, but was more productive at getting scoring opportunities then Eddie has been in a long time.

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