That was a painful match to watch. When your keeper seems to have more ball touches than some of your midfielders, you know things are bad. Did we ever once actually dribble upfield? It seemed like all we did was pass to Kasey, he punted up field, and the Czech’s headed it back. When we did dribble, we jogged. When the Czech’s had the ball they ran. In fact the only time I saw US players run was to chase down a streaking Czech with the ball. How many times before we realized kicking out to the deep corner wasn’t working? How long until we settled passes instead of having to chase the ball down? Only towards the very end did we finally seem to mix things up in the center of the field. I was afraid the Czech keeper would fall asleep he touched the ball so rarely.
I know this sounds harsh and I’m not a fair weather fan who’s packing it in – far from it. But it was almost as if we just decided we couldn’t beat the Czechs on the ground so we put the ball in the air often, only to find that they seemed a full foot taller as they won most contested headers. The Czech’s had 5 shots on goal, we had one. Yes, Reyna’s shot was SO close, but that should not have been our only chance. Why did we play 4-5-1 if we weren’t going to play the ball in the middle, only the air?
I guess the only good thing is if you’re going to implode against a team, have it be the best one in your group. Hopefully we can shake off whatever it is that was on our backs and get ready for Italy. Otherwise 1998 won’t be the benchmark it currently is, 2006 will.