The cruel aspect of world cup football, is that 4 years is a very long time. Teams change. Situations change. Players get older (look at Zidane). Before we look at this year's version of Team America, we should revisit where the irrational exhuberance came from, World Cup 2002:
- The United States caught Portugal flat footed the first 20 minutes of their opening game, scoreing 3 quick goals. Portugal finally woke up and remembered why they were a "favorite" and scored 2 second half goals, still losing 3-2.
- Against Korea, the US scored first only to see Korea come back and tie the game. Both teams looked equal.
- Against Poland, who had been eliminated already, the Americans got thrashed 3-1, looking very unworthy on the pitch. Had Korea not scored a late winner against Portugal the US would have been heading home.
- Round of 16 - The US got the perfect draw - Mexico. The one team they play and know how to beat, and to their credit they do so 2-0
- 1/4 finals - US runs into the eventual runner ups - Germany. By far not a top German team they lose 1-0 with some controversy
Too bad Arena refused to change his system, players that the team was built on (donovan, beasley) have never stepped it up in big situations, and they had a tough group. This led to the realistic last place finish by the americans.
- Arena - played players out of postion...not the only manager making that mistake of hubris (see domenech and erickson). But he is to blame for selection (no twellman?) and for his system as well as motivation....how can your team come out that flat for the first game of the world cup? Also, he is afraid to use his subs...needing a goal he only brings on Johnson at the 60th minute?
- Donovan - the more I hear about how great he is the more I wonder what people are talking about. He limped back from the Bundesliga, and decided to opt for the laid back life in california and the MLS, this shows on the highest level of competition. He is hyped up by the american press but he is shown for what he is on the world stage - a decent player with much growing to do. Case in point, again Ghana he turns on his defender on the left side of the 18yard box, rather than going to goal he cuts back towards the gaggle of players on top of the box, then on a free kick he balloons it over the goal...terrible
- Reyna - hard worker, probably the face of US soccer, but might have played on tournament too many, especially when he had no support from those he was suppose to...
- Beasley - being played out of position, but did not impressed irregardless