Some random thoughts from RFK…..
DC soccer fans are among the best in the nation. My only previous experience seeing a soccer game at RFK was when I saw Norway play Mexico in the 1994 World Cup, so last night was my first chance to see the DC soccer fans in action. They do not disappoint. I was sitting in the lower bowl just behind the Costa Rica bench, and nobody form the lower bowl sat all game. They were always on their feet, usually jumping, singing and cheering from the first whistle to the last. Even though it was not a sell-out, those that were there were completely into it.
The outcome was no less than the US deserved. Last June at Saprisa, Costa Rica beat our boys 3-1 by out-competing the US. Last night was a different story. The US worked hard, won every loose ball, kept possession well, and never stopped pressing until they had gotten those two goals back. Several players, especially Altidore, Donovan, and Casey, had off nights with their finishing, but they made up for it with their hard work and industrious play. Had they taken their chances better, we would have kicked Costa Rica into the Potomac. Furthermore, it was a sign of class to put out our best squad and keep fighting until the end in a game that was, for the US, basically inconsequential. Honduras owes us all a beer.
I’ll root for Costa Rica against Uruguay. In the end last night, Costa Rica buckled. Once they had their lead, Costa Rica became a negative, time wasting pile of compost. Furthermore, they forgot rule #1 in diving – the more writhing you do on the field the less injured you are. Have you ever been injured? Rolling around makes it hurt more! The referee stopped believing their diving and time wasting, gave the US the five minutes extra time they deserved, the Costa Rican coaching staff went mental and were sent off, and the US’s unremitting pressure finally made them suffer. For Costa Rica, this draw felt like a loss and they must feel like they have completely failed. And so they should. Nevertheless, I will root for Costa Rica against Uruguay. The more Concacaf teams, the better as far as I am concerned. Also, Bryan Ruiz was an absolute treat to watch play last night, and I want to see more of him.
We are headed to Denmark without our central defense. Looking over the last year, it seems our best back four are Bocanegra, De Merit, Onyewu and some combination of Spector and Cherundolo. For the friendly next month against Denmark, Gooch and DeMerit will be out and Chad Marshall will probably still be with Columbus if they running deep into the MLS playoffs. That probably puts Jimmy Conrad on a plane to Europe, but the point of these pre-World Cup friendlies is to allow teams to gel, not to see how the line-up can be improvised. And before people start moaning about how shallow the talent pool in the US is, can you imagine cursing of the gods that would be going on in England if both John Terry and Rio Ferdinand were injured. Speaking of Gooch….
Where does Gooch get his playing time before World Cup? Gooch will probably not get off the training table and out of the pool until January and will not be match fit until February or March. AC Milan will almost certainly buy someone during the January transfer window to fill his slot, but even if they don’t, it’s not like a healthy Gooch was getting a lot of playing time. Can Gooch really perform in South Africa without have played 90 competitive club minutes in the previous year? I doubt it. Gooch needs to get loaned out during the transfer window, and it should be to any team, even a lower division team, that will play him. The best solution? He should be loaned out to a MLS team until the World Cup. The MLS pre-season matches almost perfectly with the time that Gooch can start kicking a ball on the field. Don’t be surprised to see Gooch back at RFK with DC United, at least for a few months, next season.
The question about Charlie Davies that nobody has yet asked. Nobody deserved to be in that crash Tuesday morning. Not Charlie Davies. Not the driver. Certainly not the girl who died. It is a total tragedy. Nevertheless, there is an unspoken question surrounding this whole disaster. What was Charlie Davies doing at 3:30 in the morning in a speeding car the day before a WCQ game in complete violation of the team curfew? The punishment does not match the violation, but Charlie Davies will know that he will have missed this World Cup for reasons that are almost certainly foolish. That is a real shame. I hope his body heals because I am sure he will be a far more professional player when he comes back.