Watching the United States get thoroughly whooped by the Czech Republic this afternoon was -almost- funny; perhaps if I'd been less emotionally invested in a strong showing by the U.S. Maybe because, leading up to today's matches, I'd watched every minute of soccer thus far in the Cup, I was desperate to see the Yanks show up and play well, if not win.
Five minutes into the match, it was clear my hopes were misplaced. Just a few random bullet points for those that didn't see the "match," which it hardly was:
*Nedved absolutely destroyed us, turning in the single most dominating performance of the Cup so far. Even more so than Riquelme was for Argentina on Saturday, Nedved was a one-man wrecking crew against the U.S. He won loose balls, made great passes, and whipped us in every aspect of the game. It wasn't even close.
*Eddie Lewis played like a JV backup. The only bright spot for him was that he wasn't the worst. Demarcus Beasley managed to be positively miserable.
*The size advantage the Czechs enjoyed was noticeable and important. They won 90% of the headers, disrupted any and all semblance of an American "attack," and, I'm afraid to say, intimidated us. We were tight, outmatched, and outplayed.
*With the loss, America has to beat Italy on Saturday. They simply can't afford to draw and hope to get the help they'll need to advance. The only possible good news from today's match was that we couldn't have played much worse. With very little to lose at this point, it's possible to be optimistic that we'll come out more loose and aggressive on Saturday. Let's hope so. Another showing or two like today's and it'll be 0-3 for the Americans.
*Of all the supposed mismatches in the Cup so far, this one was the worst, at least in terms of how the game was played. And on paper, we weren't even supposed to be too far behind the Czechs. Today, we were. Time to regroup.
*Oh, yeah, one more thing, which Wells reminded me of: this. Like I said: What a lousy afternoon.