Friday, June 14, 2013

USA gets the W in front of a packed CenturyLink Field

By Money Mike


Over the past couple of years, all the U.S. soccer fans in Seattle have been asking hundreds of times when the U.S. men's national team will come to Seattle? Let alone for a match that actually counts, like the World Cup Qualifier. We didn't have to wait any longer as the U.S. made a stop in the Emerald City for their first World Cup Qualifying match in Seattle since 1976, and it was one to remember. On Tuesday, the United States defeated Panama 2-0 in front of a crowd of 40,847 at CenturyLink Field, the seventh largest crowd for a home World Cup Qualifier and the second largest crowd for a U.S. men's soccer match in the Pacific Northwest. Everyone inside the stadium (including myself) came in full voice all the way through the final whistle and the home field advantage paid off for the Americans as they now climb on top of the hexagonal group and their unbeaten streak at home in World Cup Qualifying play lives on. Just a memorable night all around for U.S. soccer.

The Americans had the first crack at goal in the third minute. Brad Evans, who more than likely appears to be a regular now for the USMNT, took the long throw in from the far side. His throw in was aimed towards fellow Seattle Sounder Eddie Johnson, but it was over his head and the ball bounced to Fabian Johnson for a left foot volley which sailed over the bar but not by much.

A couple minutes later, DaMarcus Beasley sent in a high lofted ball in the penalty area for EJ who whiffed on his attempted volley. Clint Dempsey stepped up and struck it first time but this one was high and wide by a mile but it was good to see the U.S. pouring pressure on early in the match.

The officiating in this match, as far as I'm concerned, was very poor. A lot of soft challenges have been called against us. Clint Dempsey's been getting clipped a lot in this game and the referee hasn't been calling them. I mean, for years we've been having to deal with shitty referees in MLS and none of them (except for maybe one and no I'm not talking about Ricardo Salazar) should be called in to officiate the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. As a matter of fact I don't know how one of the MLS officials were called in last year by FIFA to officiate the 2012 Men's Olympic Tournament in Great Britain. Of course everybody around the World knows that the officiating in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa was godawful. There was also some crappy officiating in the 2011 Women's World Cup in Germany, most notably the Quarterfinal between the U.S. and Brazil. And with the officiating we're getting in the qualifying stage, I'm starting to have a bad feeling that we're gonna have shitty referees in the 2014 World Cup.

In the 22nd minute, the U.S. probably would've been up had one of the players not gotten in the way. Fabian Johnson picked up the ball on the near side, cut to his right foot and curled the ball to the far post over the head of Clint Dempsey and it was poorly cleared by Carlos Rodriguez right to Michael Bradley to volleyed low and hard, but it hit Dempsey on the way and Panama dodge another bullet.

Speaking of poor officiating, in the 34th minute, the USA should've been awarded a PK. DaMarcus Beasley found Jozy Altidore, who spun around Ramon Torres and was clipped from behind and it looked like the referee pointed to the spot, but he said Torres got the ball and then a second later Altidore was whistled for a handball. Torres won the ball? Not from what I saw. Jozy Altidore spun around Torres, had him beat. Torres clipped him from behind, did not get the ball and the referee was in perfect position to see that. How is that not a penalty?

Enough talk about the refereeing in this game. Moving on to the 36th minute of play, the Stadium erupted as the U.S. drew first blood......



Panama thought they had an equalizer on the stroke of halftime. Marcos Sanchez, who was released by D.C. United not too long ago, slid the ball to the top of the box for Anibal Godoy who poked the ball into the box for Luis Tejada to tap it in, but the offside flag was up, which means the goal did not count. Correct decision as well, Tejada was definitely offside.

In the 53rd minute, Geoff Cameron got Eddie Johnson in behind with a good long ball and the Sounders striker did the rest......



In the 65th minute, USA had a chance to make it 3-0 and put this match in bed. Jozy Altidore worked a nice give-and-go with Clint Dempsey and gave it a crack from about 30 yards out (don't know exactly, I don't have a measuring stick) which was saved by the goalkeeper Jamie Penedo. Clint Dempsey tried to follow up with the rebound, but his chance skipped off the grass, over Penedo's head and off the crossbar.

In the 79th minute, the Americans were once again denied by the woodwork. Jozy Altidore slid the ball for DaMarcus Beasley who sprinted all the way from his left back position. Beasley took a touch and then just when everyone thought it was gonna go it, the ball instead hit the outside of the post.

Panama's only threat in the match came a minute and a half into second half stoppage time when Luis Tejada played a nice through ball to Rolando Blackburn, but U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard came out and cut down the angle. Other than that, Howard wasn't really tested much in this game as the U.S. climb to the top of the hexagonal group with a 2-0 win.


Observations:

DaMarcus Beasley has started the last six matches at left back (including friendlies), but after picking up that yellow card late in the match, he will not be seen on the pitch next Tuesday for USA's match with Honduras at Rio Tinto Stadium in Salt Lake City. Now Jurgen Klinsmann has some tough decisions to make with that spot. He's got Graham Zusi returning from his suspension and he should get the start at right midfield for the match. But does he start Edgar Castillo at left back? Does he move Fabian Johnson to left back and move Eddie Johnson to left mid or even give Brad Davis the start at left midfield? Those are tough decisions for a coach to make, but Klinsmann knows what he's doing and he's the only one who has the answer to that question.

Again, a great turnout at CenturyLink Field by the fans. The seventh largest attendance in U.S. soccer history for a home qualifier. It was loud all night long and just great to be a part of it. My first ever international soccer match in person and it's one to remember. 100 years and counting for U.S. soccer and I just wonder what it's gonna look like in 2113? Of course that another 100 years from now, which is a long time.

Cobi Jones (right) is the all-time caps leader
in U.S. soccer history with 164.
You know, time was a little slow during the day. Probably the reason for that is because we've had to wait in line for about 40-45 minutes at FX McCrurys to get a table. This was before the game, so we didn't miss any action. And during that time, my mom went to the bar a couple of times to look for a table. In the first attempt, she wanted me go with her to help find a table (I'm allowed to go in the bar now since I am 21), and no surprise, we didn't find a table. So I told her that "we're never gonna find a table." Then she responded by saying, "it's about luck." And to be honest, that was the dumbest thing I ever heard. Because the truth was, we were never gonna find a table in the bar because the entire restaurant was packed with a lot of USA fans. So that killed a bit of our time, then a few minutes later I see Cobi Jones, one of the greatest if not the greatest U.S. soccer player of all-time, entering the building. For those of you that have never heard of Cobi Jones is, he has the most caps out of any U.S. soccer player in history (as said on my photo), he's won two MLS Cup titles with the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2002 and 2005, he's the all-time leader for the Galaxy in games played for them as well, he's been on three World Cup squads including 1994 when the U.S. were the host nation and he also led the Americans to a Gold Cup title in 2002. He was one of my favorite players growing up and I was just glad that I got a chance to meet him.

Overall, it was a great night. Again this was my first U.S. soccer match that I got to see in person and surely won't be my last and I hope that the USMNT will be back in Seattle soon. More importantly, they got a big World Cup Qualifying win which puts them a step closer to booking their ticket to Brazil.


Scoring summary:

United States - Jozy Altidore (Fabian Johnson) 36'

United States - Eddie Johnson (Geoff Cameron) 53'


Misconduct summary:

United States - Jozy Altidore (caution; foul) 56'

United States - Geoff Cameron (caution; foul) 69'

Panama - Marcos Sanchez (caution; dive)* 69'

United States - DaMarcus Beasley (caution; foul)^ 92'+

United States - Tim Howard (caution; time wasting) 93'+

* - Will miss Panama's next match on June 18th against Jamaica

^ - Will miss USA's next match on June 18th against Honduras


Lineups:

Panama - Jamie Penedo; Lionel Parris, Ramon Torres, Felipe Baloy, Carlos Rodriguez; Marcos Sanchez, Armando Cooper (Nelson Barahona 59'), Amilcar Henriquez (Gabriel Torres 78'), Alberto Quintero; Anibal Goboy (Rolando Blackburn 59'); Luis Tejada

United States - Tim Howard; Brad Evans, Omar Gonzalez, Matt Besler, DaMarcus Beasley; Eddie Johnson (Joe Corona 87'), Geoff Cameron, Michael Bradley, Fabian Johnson (Brad Davis 87'); Clint Dempsey; Jozy Altidore (Stuart Holden 91'+)


Hexagonal table:

1. United States; 3-1-1 (10 points), GF 6 GA 3 GD +3
2. Costa Rica; 2-1-2 (8 points), GF 5 GA 3 GD +2
3. Mexico; 1-0-5 (8 points), GF 3 GA 2 GD +1
4. Honduras; 2-2-1 (7 points), GF 6 GA 6 GD 0
5. Panama; 1-1-3 (6 points), GF 5 GA 5 GD 0
6. Jamaica; 0-4-2 (2 points), GF 2 GA 8 GD -6

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