US Soccer: Monday Morning Musings

932948 mediumWS US Soccer: Monday Morning MusingsWithout Freddy Adu and Jozy Altidore, the U-20 World Cup was flying below the radar of many US Soccer supporters. For years, US Soccer has emphasized the results in youth tournaments and for years the US has performed admirably at this level. While the USA struggles to escape the group stages at senior events (The US has advanced from the Group Stage in three of its last seven non- CONCACAF events, the most recent with three points and a minus 2 GD in the Confederations Cup), the US almost always advances from the group in the U-20 and U-17 World Cups. (The US has advanced to the knock out stages of eleven consecutive U-17 or U-20 World Cups for which the US has qualified.)

With the shocking one sided loss to a shorthanded German squad who had lost several players to withdrawal days before the tournament however, I sense that the fans are now engaged in this competition. This is after all a tournament which has seen the US defeat England, Argentina and Brazil in recent years, and captured the imagination of the football loving public in the country.

The rest of CONCACAF had looked even worse than the US, if that is truly possible, until Honduras gave a resounding and convincing performance Sunday versus Hungary.

The US has a lot of work to do in a tough group. Eleven straight knock out stage appearances (six in this tournament) are a lot to live up, especially given that the US has qualified for, and advanced in six consecutive U-20 World Cups. This team doesn’t want to be one to break that tradition. I can assure you of that.

OTHER THOUGHTS

  • The continued struggles of the Chicago Fire and DC United further demonstrate why it may not be wise to promote the “loyal” assistant when you have a history of winning trophies like both clubs do. United’s home loss to San Jose surely must make Soehn’s seat a little warmer.
  • I really think Tom Soehn is over his head as a Manager. More on this in the next week or two.
  • New England is a team nobody will want to play should they make the playoffs, which is appearing more likely. Steve Nicol and Paul Mariner have an incredible record of beating Eastern Conference teams in the playoffs, and have been less affected by international call ups and injuries in the second half of this season than in the recent past.
  • Columbus was impressive this weekend versus the Galaxy, and midweek against Cruz Azul, one of the best teams in North America under Enrique Meza. The flip side of the coin is the Puerto Rico Islanders of USL-1 who have been embarrassed in this season’s CCL (after just missing the final last season) being shelled at home by both Cruz Azul and Saprissa in a way Columbus was not. Next year, CONCACAF must re-evaluate whether allowing Puerto Rico to qualify easily via the CFU Caribbean setup is fair, considering they are clearly the weakest team in the Group Stage this season. However, we must recall that they did beat an MLS team to qualify for the Group Stage, so the real big question is, how weak would Toronto have been in this competition? The good news is that by TFC being eliminated, Columbus and Cruz Azul did not have to play a second away team on a rubber surface since Saprissa plays on that junk at home.
  • #7 seed Vancouver shocked #2 seed Carolina in the USL-1 playoffs, an upset reminiscent of some ways of some of the recent shockers in MLS playoffs. Vancouver now faces Portland in the semi-finals in a Northwest derby that is sure to be contentious. A preview of MLS 2011, which I for one did not predict.
  • Good news: Michael Bradley played 45 minutes for Gladbach this weekend. Bad news, was that Bradley was awful and so was his team being thrashed 3-0. Bradley is so rusty that he missed a routine finish (aka a sitter ) towards the match’s conclusion
  • While Americans were struggling for pitch time, Hondurans Hendry Thomas and Maynor Figueroa were playing key roles for Wigan in a 3-1 shock win over Chelsea.
  • Despite all the success Hondurans are having in Europe, I am backing off my prediction that they will beat the US, due to the current political crisis. In fact, I believe Honduras may lose both its remaining matches (the second match is at El Salvador) and be wiped out by a COMNEBOL team in the playoff. If that happens, it is too bad, because Wilson Palacios, David Suazo and Maynor Figueroa are more likely to show well for CONCACAF in South Africa than any current player Costa Rica sports. But the political instability of Central America which has done in many a previous talented side from the region is destined to do the same to this version of Honduras’ National Team.
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15 Responses to US Soccer: Monday Morning Musings

  1. Luky says:

    “Next year, CONCACAF must re-evaluate whether allowing Puerto Rico to qualify easily via the CFU Caribbean setup is fair, considering they are clearly the weakest team in the Group Stage this season”.

    WTF!!! What about W Connection.. or San Juan Jabloteh? How are they doing at their respective groups? Did you even know that they also qualified to the group stage? Maybe its true, the Caribbean region is not a power house and many clubs have had to decline participation in the CFU championship because of economic problems. But do you really want CONCACAF to eliminate the possibility of a CFU club to join the tournament? That’s ridiculous. This idea only shows you are bias against CFU clubs and/or the Puerto Rico Islanders.

  2. Ron says:

    Columbus was outscored 7-0 in two games against Cruz Azul but in your biased pro MLS world that’s a good result because like the other MLS tools you said they looked good despite leaking goals and also complained about the refs.

    Puerto Rico actually scored THREE TIMES against Cruz Azul and almost scored a fourth to win it at the end.
    The score was 3-3.

    Scoring three times is being shelled but being outscored 7-0 is a good performance.

    I know your team is blowing USL now, but you don’t have to now become a tool of MLS like every other big writer out there.

    What a real disappointment. Your other points were decent but how can we even bother if you write something so patently false just to promote to maybe to redeem yourself with MLS.

  3. Ray says:

    The Crew is rolling. Embarrassed the Islanders, Kartik’s favorite team and gave Cruz Azul all they can handle. We killed La this weekend, and we’d be on sportscenter and everything else if we were a bigger market.

    The two Honduran players you mention, I have never heard of before. Are you sure they are Honduran? I didn’t see them in the games against us this summer?

    You’ve wisely backed off your Honduran prediction. When Honduras has a player of Jozy Altidore or Landon Donovan’s caliber, call me, until; then stop obsessing on these inferior CONCACAF teams.

  4. LI Matt says:

    The two Honduran players you mention, I have never heard of before. Are you sure they are Honduran? I didn’t see them in the games against us this summer?

    Well, if you haven’t heard of them, then they obviously don’t exist.

    Both of them have started all of Wigan’s league games this season (Figueroa has played every minute). While neither appeared in the Gold Cup, both played 90 minutes in the Chicago qualifier.

    When Honduras has a player of Jozy Altidore or Landon Donovan’s caliber, call me

    Please, stop. it hurts when I laugh this hard.

    Altidore has, what, one goal in a major European league? Suazo has over 50 in Italy.

    Heck, unless Twellman gets called up the Honduran team has more MLS MVPs (Guevara) than the US team.

  5. eplnfl says:

    Another reason why this site is superior to all the others is the political insight into how a match maybe effected which Kartik can do like do one else.

    Well done.

  6. Intru says:

    How can the Islanders be the weakest team in the group stage when Isidro Metapán, San Juan Jabloteh, have all not won a single game and Real España one one but has lost three. Where Marathon is being spanked 7-0 by Toluca and Colombus dint get a single goal against Cruz Azul but the Islanders actually scored 3 times on them.

    • todd says:

      i gotta agree with Intru. There is absolutely no way you can call the Islanders the worst team in the group stage.

      seriously, Kartik, why are you saying Islanders are the worst? take away 80′+ goals and they’d have two wins if I’m not mistaken.

  7. Eric says:

    Good stuff from Kartik as usual. I actually thought the U-20s this year favored us to perhaps win the whole thing with the Euro sides weakened and Argentina not qualifying. But alas, the first game was if anything WORSE than anything we saw in the Confederations Cup. Can you imagine that?

  8. John M says:

    Actually didn’t you pick all three losers in the USL-1 playoffs over at the Kartik Report? At least you are man enough to admit you were wrong.

    So, Kartik what happened to Carolina and all their depth? Also, Puerto Rico scored three goals vs Cruz Azul in one half, while Columbus scored NONE in TWO GAMES. So if Puerto Rico doesn’t belong than who does? They’ve had some bad luck- you cannot play something like 20 times in 50 days and keep winning. MLS teams don’t face the kind of fixture congestion USL team do.

    Puerto Rico beat TFC in a two leg series, the only such occurance ever between the two leagues. MLS people will wa

  9. John M says:

    Actually didn’t you pick all three losers in the USL-1 playoffs over at the Kartik Report? At least you are man enough to admit you were wrong.

    So, Kartik what happened to Carolina and all their depth? Also, Puerto Rico scored three goals vs Cruz Azul in one half, while Columbus scored NONE in TWO GAMES. So if Puerto Rico doesn’t belong than who does? They’ve had some bad luck- you cannot play something like 20 times in 50 days and keep winning. MLS teams don’t face the kind of fixture congestion USL team do.

    Puerto Rico beat TFC in a two leg series, the only such occurrence ever between the two leagues. MLS people will want to act as if that never happened, but it did. Toronto FC was defeated over two legs by the Islanders, so it wasn’t some fluke result or simply a case of a USL team parking the bus or an MLS team playing their reserves while the USL team played their starters, all usual excuses.

    Also, Kartik I like your continued USL coverage at your other site, but why did you feel you had to move it from here? I am disappointed that the MLS fans many ignorant and resentful of anything that does not fit into their MLS centric soccer world view is without value, intimidated you into this decision. If you are going to be a leader, which I believe you are in the American soccer community you must stand up to these people even at the risk of losing readers.

    I appreciate your work at that other site, but miss that candor here.

  10. K Desan says:

    The World Cup got more coverage after we got slammed than before. Pretty telling about the timing of the event, and the expectations. We always do well and the tourney is late this year, so people didn’t pay attention and assumed we’d do well. Now that we got beat 3-0, people are screaming bloody murder.

  11. Larry O says:

    It would be nice if one of these days Kartik admitted he roots against the USMNT and for the rest of CONCACAF. His negativity is only exceeded by Trecker. It would nice to hear Trecker admit the same thing.

    By the way NO OTHER COUNTRY HAS BEEN TO FIVE SENIOR NATIONAL TEAM FINALS IN THIS DECADE. NOT ITALY, NOT ARGENTINA, NOT BRAZIL! ONLY THE US!

    Are we the best national team in the world? Maybe not, but we are certainly in the conversation as for dark horses next summer. The Confed Cup proved that.

    As for MLS vs USL, who cares. Most of our top guys are abroad anyhow.

  12. Grunthos says:

    “I really think Tom Soehn is over his head as a Manager.”

    I don’t know that “over his head” is the right way to put it. He’s not incompetent. What has now been clearly established is that he is thoroughly, unwaveringly mediocre. And, unfortunately for Tommy, this isn’t Antonin Salieri’s insane asylum. There will be no absolution.

  13. LDR says:

    When we win tomorrow, I wonder what K’s reaction will be?

    The US sucked and are outclassed but lucked into a win. I have dibs on that line!

  14. Fan says:

    “I really think Tom Soehn is over his head as a Manager. More on this in the next week or two.”

    Way to really go out on a limb there with some new thinking. Who would have ever considered this line of argument? Top notch stuff here. Really top notch.

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