Cock and Bull

Yesterday was a big day for American soccer. For the last twenty years we have been making small strides towards respect on the national stage beginning with qualifying for the World Cup in 1990, our first major appearance in 40 years. Then the successful hosting of the World Cup in 1994. The first season of Major League Soccer in 1996. Reaching the quarter finals of World Cup 2002. Seeing more and more talent break out in Europe. Now the pieces are all in place for the United States to shine with the big boys. We have talented players honing their skills in all the best leagues in the world and our own league is getting better year by year. Last night, the team took the field at Wembley Stadium to play a symbolic friendly against England coming off their best run of form against European opposition in history. A decent result or a decent performance against the three lions would be another huge step towards gaining that worldwide respect. Unfortunately, we were garbage and we’ll have to wait another day.

Sean and I went to the Cock and Bull to watch the game at noon and the crowd was a little disappointing. Since it was being broadcast live on TV, it seems the England faithful opted to stay at home instead of wasting their precious gas. Those who were there made the most of the environment and cheered and yelled when appropriate, but for us U.S. fans, it hardly ever was.

Here are some things I learned from the match-

1. Josh Wolff is useless. I don’t know how he fared in the second division in Germany but the fact that he was waived by his club at the end of the season isn’t a good one. He also looked woefully out of his element the entire match.

2. Landon Donovan is the heart of the U.S. team. His absence was felt throughout the ninety minutes as no one else in the midfield was able to make any creative attacking decisions. I’m thinking that the ideal situation might have Landon as an attacking center mid with Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore playing up top.

3. Freddy Adu is worth the hype. Despite not playing for his club in months, Adu came on fresh, energized and full of spark. His first few touches were understandably sloppy but he quickly became the most dangerous player on the field for the States. Compare that to Eddie Johnson, who looked rusty the whole time since he too hasn’t played for his club in weeks.

The only other positive to note is that we have outstanding goalkeepers for our first and second choice, something England would be hard pressed to boast. With two more very difficult, high-profile freindlies in the next week or so between Spain and Argentina, there’s still a chance for us to make a mark on the biggest stage. And it wasn’t a total wash yesterday either. Ironically enough there was one man on the pitch who was helping our reputation only he was playing for the other team. David Beckham played a solid 45 minutes of football for England proving that he’s not losing a beat while playing in our so-called busch league. Highlights of the game below.

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