Sunday, June 06, 2010

Humbled by Uncle Sam

United States v Australia 3:1
Pre-World Cup Friendly

Well, Australia may have been exhausted from fitness training, and I will still maintain my optimism the best I can for the World Cup, but according to my own declaration yesterday, I won't be putting my money on them. For not only was the Socceroos' run of very close victories ended, but they were ended decisively, with any reputation for a rock-solid defense of multiple clean sheets shattered by the 3:1 scoreline.

Now once again I think we do have a very effective attack. I don't know how many times I saw the ball come down our left followed by a beautiful cross from Chipperfield into the box. Again and again. That's called a successfully executed attack. But Josh Kennedy looked buggered and wasn't getting to them. We know Josh can get these because he does it for his Japanese Club regularly, but he wasn't doing it last night.

But there's not much comfort to be drawn from the possibilities of missed opportunities because the USA missed a basket of opportunities as well whilst our defense was cruelly exposed.

And I guess that's one of the trade-offs for the 'old, experienced' defense, where after a tough day's fitness training (Friday was their peak fitness session) they simply didn't have legs for it. As Jason Cullina said, it's no excuse in itself, but we can at least be comforted that before the German game these old soldiers will be fit and rested. Fingers crossed, wallets closed.

I had to laugh at my own overplaying yesterday of the difference between the FIFA and ELO tables with regard to Australia's and the USA's rankings. If you were following that narrative, note that that game placed the United States one place above Australia on the ELO table, from four places behind. Seems a reasonable correction to me.

Here's a final positive I can find from this game. Australia's best chance of anything, in my view, is the first game against Germany. I'm not understimating them, but they are relatively inexperienced and will be viewing the game as the first of a long campaign. It is our only chance for surprise. If Australia had flogged the USA, after its long, successful qualifier and then victories over New Zealand and Denmark, successively tougher opponents, the other teams in Group D would have been put on high alert. To be beaten, especially comprehensively, at this stage, is to duck under the radar once again, at the best possible time. No I don't think it was the plan, just a way in which fate may yet be working for us.

Once again, I am still hoping, though the evidence is getting shaky, that the Socceroos overall preparation is on track and that the team which runs on the field on the 13th will be at their peak of fitness and tactical understanding, and will have topped off this brilliantly concieved plan with a day of light training then a full day's rest. And thence, things will be glorious.

I'm a patriot ok? I will try to be honest in my observations, whilst doing everything I can to keep the faith. If it comes to it, I will wear the ignomy of my optimism being utterly wrong as a war wound, a badge of honour in our country's battle for the ultimate glory. But at the same time I'm serious. The Socceroos have every chance to go a long way at this World Cup.

Just a thankyou to the Pig n Whistle (left), a rare dedicated soccer pub where I've enjoyed the last two friendlies. My impression was of an established culture of Pig n Whistle goers, brought to my attention by the rousing participation in the National Anthem, which, apart from the fact that it is a crap song in every way (hardly their fault), was impressive. There were screens everywhere, including in the courtyard, and you could even see the screen from the smoking area. Keep it in mind, I reckon, as a good spot to watch a game with the public.

For analysis of the game itself the best blog I've found so far is by Dom on the World Cup Blog. [Later Ed: Mike Salter, always worth a read, has published a blog about the game too.]



Blogger Nikki said...

Did you start to sing 'Throw Your Arms Around Me' at the Pig'n'Whistle?

June 06, 2010 2:07 pm  
Blogger Christian Layland said...

i think too many people under-estimate the USA.
they are a world class team and should top their group and get to at least the semi-finals.

remmeber, they were the team who ended spains 30+ matches undefeated, and by all rights should have won the confeds cup.

for who they were up against, i thought Australia actually did alright.

though the USA should have had at least one more goal (if not more)

June 06, 2010 7:01 pm  
Blogger Hamish said...

No Nikki! I'm afraid the image of thousands of fans singing that song with national pride is going to remain for my dreamtime. :(

Glad to see you're paying attention though! ;)

Thanks Christian. All respect to the USA team. They do have every reason to aim to go far in this competition. Amazing forward movement in particular, but their defense looks as bad as ours.

My hunch is that in full competition the teams would look more equal than last night. I would love to find out in the round of 16.


June 06, 2010 7:53 pm  
Anonymous Ed said...

Meh, who knows if it means anything? Cant wait to find out!

June 08, 2010 9:30 pm  
Blogger Hamish said...

Me neither Ed. Good to see you around.

June 08, 2010 11:41 pm  

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