Saturday, March 24, 2012

Oh, Canada?

The road to the 2012 Olympics just got a whole lot more difficult for the U.S. U-23 Men's Soccer Team. After cruising to an easy 6-0 victory over Cuba in their opener they went up against gritty Canadian side and came out flat and came up short. You kind of knew it wasn't going to be a good day for the U.S. when star striker Juan Agudelo had an MRI on his left knee this morning that confirmed he'd torn his meniscus in the Cuba game and would miss the rest of the tournament. Still, even without Agudelo the U.S. came out strong, but despite dominating the possession in the early going it produced few good opportunities and Canada was able to gain confidence and battle their way back into the match. Joe Corona, who had a hat trick against the Cubans, was almost completely negated by the Canadian midfield and as a result was taken off at the half for Joe Gyau. The speedy Gyau fared no better though and quite possibly slightly worse as he was a complete non-factor after the break.
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The U.S. did appear to go ahead 1-0 early in the second half when Freddy Adu sent in a free kick that Ike Opara headed home, but Opara and two or three other Americans were clearly offsides on the play so the goal was negated. Canada kept pressing, winning more and more of the ball and ten minutes later got a well-deserved goal on a Philippe Davies corner played poorly by American keeper Bill Hamid. Hamid came out tentatively, and was beaten to the ball by an unmarked Doneil Henry and suddenly the U.S. found themselves trailing. While there was still plenty of time to come back, the U.S. seemed to lose their composure after they fell behind and started to stray from their gameplan. Opportunities were there, but they were either rushed and squandered or denied by Canadian keeper Michal Misiewicz. Eventually Canada produced a second goal off another corner, this time a short ball played through Davies to Lucas Cavallini and that was the nail in the coffin for the Americans.

So now the U.S. finds themselves on the brink of elimination needing a win against El Salvador on Monday just to advance to the second round, and likely a date with Mexico. They're going to have to do a lot better, and play a lot more inspired than they did tonight, that's for sure. We'll see what coach Caleb Porter and captain Freddy Adu are really made of come Monday. And for the love of God, will somebody please tell the announcer that it's Terrence BOYD and not BODY??

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