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Saturday, July 07, 2007

Project 2010 is still alive!

As TDH outlined below, at least ten of US Soccer's top players didn't make the trip to Venezuela for the Copa America. And as TDH was suffering through the squad's inglorious performance, it dawned on TDH that this was not even the "B" team. No, even more American stars were streaking across the artificial turf a few thousand miles north, at the Under-20 World Cup in Canada. To make matters worse, the resulting "C" team in Venezuela became a "D" team in the final match against Colombia, as all the bench players got their shot in the spotlight. TDH almost didn't complain when the national anthem was cut short, undoubtedly by some overzealous Chavista.

So it was with no small anticipation that TDH settled down to watch the Under-20 squad, led by the fiercely talented and no-longer-so-undersized Freddy Adu (he grew! it rhymes!), squaring up to Brazil in Montreal. Adu wasn't the team's only bonafide star, as striker Jozy Altidore - a 17-year-old monolith of almost Onyewu-like proportions - has been scoring at an 0.42 per 90 minutes rate in New York. But boy, could this entire team play!

Showing no intimidation at all, they pinged the ball around the pitch with ease, maintaining possession with superior speed and strength. And not only that, they had touch! and finish! and even a couple of kids who could bend it like Beckham!

TDH's favorite part was a stretch in the 56th through 58th minutes where the United States maintained absolutely continuous control, creating three excellent chances barely saved by Cassio. As Adu - a true enganche if ever the US had one - dribbled into the area to create the last chance, one of the Argentine commentators exclaimed, "Adu, Adu, Adu! Parece Brasileno!" and later "A mi me parecio que nacio en Ipanema!" Special mention must also go to keeper Chris Seitz (who really is Onyewu's size) for hanging onto almost every stop - except the Brazilian goal - and generally playing about a million times better than Kasey Keller did this week.

The US was lucky in the second half with some poor Brazilian finishing (and vice-versa, on a couple of occasions), but the US received no help at all from the referee. One Brazilian ought to have been sent off with a second yellow card for a cynical snip of Adu's ankle on the edge of the box, and another one should have received a card for retaliation, again on Adu. In the 90th minute, after several obviously bad calls, a commentator even predicted that the referee would add six or seven minutes of extra time! There were four, despite no injuries and few substitutions. TDH will take it as a mark of grudging respect for a team on the rise.

That's right, Project 2010 - the strategy that was supposed to bring the World Cup trophy to the US by that year - is still alive! With Adu rapidly fulfilling his enormous potential at the 10 spot (down here they say "enganche" for the playmaker), it really could happen. Incredible.

Here are the highlights. Pay special attention at 6:46 into the reel....


Anonymous Palms said...

Nice bit of Shaolin Soccer from Adu. If the US get rid of Beasley and Johnson by 2010 they may actually have a bloody good team. Better than a Leroy Lita-led England side anyway.

4:21 AM  

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