Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Random Thoughts - Team USA, ManU-Arsenal

Back at you here with some more random firings from the brain....standard caveats apply.

Saturday Team USA knocked off Denmark 3-1 in California. Nice to get the win, but it was a game we should have won, so not too excited about that.

I am excited about Justin Mapp's 60 yard run with the ball and assist after beating four players. Not often a guy in the red, white, and blue makes that kind of play or has the guts to run at people with the ball (Dempsey and maybe Convey being the only other guys recently who would have gone for it). He did pretty much disappear for the rest of the half after that play though.

Cooper's goal was well taken, but he was more the beneficiary of a great pass over the top against an extremely high Danish line than having a moment of brilliance. Well taken though, would like to see him light it up in MLS this year and continue to get chances with the nats.

Donovan's goal was lucky twice over. Shouldn't have been a penalty and should have been saved by the keeper. Overall Donovan continued his weak, non-assertive play. The only part of the game that he steps up for is in demanding to take all the free kicks, despite the fact that he seemingly failed to deliver a single quality dead ball in all of his 2006 appearances for Team USA. Here's hoping Bradley finds someone else that can actually do the job. We aren't asking for Becks (knew he'd work his way in here somehow), just a guy that can consistently put the ball into good spots and get his shots actually on frame instead of high and wide EVERY time.

Last thought on the game, the only guy more open while standing six yards from the net than Danish goal scorer Dennis Sorenson this last weekend was Thierry Henry in the Manchester United - Arsenal game Sunday.....

.....which was an excellent, excellent game to watch, especially for Arsenal fans as they stormed back in the last 15 minutes to notch a 2-1 victory. Even for the neutrals such as myself this was a heck of a game, great play by both sides, great attacking, defending, and goal keeping.

The biggest pleasure for me though was watching Henrik Larsson. I certainly wasn't keeping a tally or anything, but damn if he didn't win 4 out of every 5 balls played to him in the air, getting a large # of them down for his wingers to run on to. In addition to playing a great target role he also forced a tough save for Lehman on a corner, though to be fair an Arsenal defender would have had a shot at it. For a man in his mid-thirties though, I was extremely impressed with his play, wish we could have seen him play in the premier league in his prime.

Arsenal again showed that they are going to be challenging for the title within the next few years despite playing one of the youngest teams they've had in years. Similiar to the 1-1 draw with Chelsea a few weeks back, they played with grit, determination, and skill, matching their "more experienced" opposition stride for stride. For a team that has been almost completely made over in the last three years, the Gunners are starting to look downright scary. Give them another year or two of experience and get them performing consistently every week? Just maybe one of the faster "re-loading" jobs in recent memory.

And people, get pumped as we are just 3 weeks and 6 days from Champions League round of 16 games - my Tivo is already salivating!

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