Tuesday, May 23, 2006

World Cup Warmup: USA vs. Morocco
By Imtiaz Mussa

Keep it here at Sportszilla as in the coming months, we will get you prepared for the 2006 World Cup in Germany. The first match takes place on June 9th.

The United States will play three matches before they fly to Germany for the 2006 World Cup. First for the USA was a matchup against Morocco in Nashville. Morocco just missed the last African World Cup spot as Tunisia qualified.

Bruce Arena opted to go with the following lineup:
Goalkeeper: Kasey Keller
Defenders: Cory Gibbs, Oguchi Onyewu, Eddie Pope, Steve Cherundolo
Midfielders: Claudio Reyna, Landon Donovan, John O’Brien
Forwards: DaMarcus Beasley, Brian McBride, Josh Wolff

In the first minutes of the game, Morocco gave the Americans a physical game. The Moroccans count on holding the ball and building play up. They are not the type of team that likes to get themselves in high scoring games. The US had an opportunity to get some chances in the eleventh minute but O’Brien and McBride took too long to decide what they wanted to do with the ball.

Claudio Reyna was having some trouble with his hamstring leading Arena to put Pablo Mastroeni into the match after only 16 minutes. With the defensively minded Mastroeni in the match, this would allow O’Brien to move up more.

It took the United States 25 minutes to get their first shot as McBride hit the ball wide. Landon Donovan had the best chance thus far in the 27 minute as O’Brien floated a beautiful ball into the penalty area. Donovan was unable to get a foot on it. He had beaten the offside trap. The Americans would continue to attack but were just unable to get a clear shot on target. Entering the half, the score was scoreless.

With the second half getting ready to start, Bobby Convey comes into the match in place of John O’Brien who had a promising performance. He is the X-factor of this team. When he’s healthy, the US is a completely different team. The Americans are pushing the ball more as they will only play with three in the back. Cherundolo moved up into right midfield. Since Morocco is only playing with one forward, it makes sense.

Talented striker Eddie Johnson came on in the 59th minute replacing Josh Wolff. He did a good job today, especially in the second half as he had some opportunities. Bobby Convey has been playing well on the left side of midfield. He has made some nice crosses which has led to some opportunities for the Americans.

In the 73rd minute, midfielder/rapper Clint Dempsey would come on for Oguchi Onyewu. Cherundolo will move back to defense as Dempsey will try to mix things up. Onyewu had a good game. He wasn’t challenged very much but Arena knows what to expect out of the big defender. After some very close calls, Arena would make another substitution in the 83rd minute as Brian Ching would come on for Brian McBride. McBride had another solid effort.

Morocco scored in the 89th minute after an attempted free kick by the United States. Mohamed Madihi, who entered in the 60th minute off a pass from Bouchaib El Moubarki after the U.S. defense got caught up field. Madihi, who was wide open, easily put the ball over goalkeeper Kasey Keller. The US had one more chance in the fourth minute of stoppage time as Bobby Convey hit the side netting with a bending free kick from 30 yards. That is how the game would end as the United States was upset.

The team looked rusty. This is the first time that they have played a game as a team in quite some time. They will need to work on their fitness as they looked tired towards the end of the match. The fact that the US gave up that goal should not be much of a concern. This was a friendly where six substitutions are allowed per team. The two key players brought in were substitutes. The bigger concern should be trying to score goals. Granted, Morocco did play very defensively but the Americans could see that scenario take place when they play Ghana. They have to take advantage of their counter plays better. With the likes of Beasley, Donovan, and Wolff in the starting lineup, the United States has the speed to convert those into goals.

The United States will take to the field on Friday against Venezuela and Sunday against Latvia before flying to Germany.

Other News
Ukraine captain Andriy Shevchenko has caused concern over his World Cup fitness after ruling himself out of a warm-up against Costa Rica on Sunday. The AC Milan striker who has become a target of Premiership champions Chelsea injured his knee earlier in May against Parma.

Arsenal have confirmed the signing of Czech midfielder Tomas Rosicky from Borussia Dortmund for an undisclosed fee. He will join up with his new Gunners teammates after the World Cup. He cost Dortmund £18m, a Bundesliga record when he arrived from Sparta Prague in 2001.

Peter Lovenkrands has rejected the opportunity to stay with Glasgow Rangers and will move to German club Schalke 04. The 26-year-old Danish forward, who moved to Ibrox six years ago for £1.3m from AB Copenhagen, leaves Rangers under freedom of contract. He has signed a three-year deal to keep him in Germany until June 2009.

The government of Ghana has promised to give $20,000 to each player of the national team for every win at the World Cup. This will mean that the government will have to pay out a minimum of $460,000 for any win in Group F where they face Italy, the Czech Republic and the United States.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Random Question - I really like your(plural) writting and am from Seattle and check your blog daily. You wrote about the NFL, NCAA B-ball, and now it's mostly soccer and MLB. Why have there been no previews, insightful articles, or reaction pieces on the NBA? Why are you avoiding the NBA? (the Sonics being long-gone is not an excuse as Seattle didn't happen to have a team in the Euro Soccer Championship race) I'm not angry, just looking for more reasons to avoid starting work when I get to work in the mornings. Thanks.

4:42 PM  
Blogger Zachary Geballe said...

I think the biggest reason is that the two largest basketball fans on the blogging squad (myself and John) have both been rather preoccupied. I've just moved from New York to Seattle, and John has a lot on his plate at work. I'm working on an NBA draft post, and I plan to see a lot more of the rest of the playoffs than I've seen so far. Hopefully, we can help you avoid work to your heart's content.

12:50 AM  

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