The View From South Texas – Notes on the 2015 U-20 World Cup
This year, for the first time in my life, I watched the United States perform in an U-20 World Cup. I watched every minute of every match the lads played, and enjoyed much of it. I learned a considerable amount about the state of our game vis-a-vis the rest of the world at this age group. Here's some thoughts.
This is the first time I've ever seen American soccer players in a competition where they were not the fittest and most disciplined players on display. Fitness, discipline, and a total commitment to the team is the trio that was immortalized by Sir Alex Ferguson as “that American thing.” With the exception of our match against New Zealand, this was not this case. If our players were remarkable in this, it's certainly not down to any of them. What it IS down to is our system of player development in this country.
In countries like Ukraine, Germany, Serbia, and...
After eight matches this season, we had earned the startling total of 1 point. Our clueless manger was out, and we were left with a squad full of promising kids and a few remaining players who could be best described as "journeymen."
Four people who had not been involved during this stretch, turned that completely around in just a few months, bringing Fulham to at least mid-table respectability while providing interesting football that was FINALLY enjoyable to watch again. Who were those four?
1. Kit Symons -- using the exact same squad that Felix was torturing, he turned Fulham into a side that -- at one point -- was averaging 2 points per match -- up quite a bit from 1/8 points per match.
2. Marcus Bettinelli -- despite his tender age, he inspired confidence and showed forthright courage and no little skill. While nowhere near the finished article, he was at least an equally talented replacement for the recently departed David Stockdale.
I taped this just before I left for a gig and didn't finish watching it until 2300 Saturday night. Grumble, grumble.
First of all, I hate them damned Dirty Yellows. The Hatter in me has never had any good thoughts about that crew, and today didn't change my mind.
Having said that, I've seldom seen such a textbook display of quality passing as we saw from Watford. Long, short, back, forward, sideways -- all of them clear, smooth, and accurate. With that passing acuity against a 10-man squad, it was always going to get ugly early. And so it did.
From the beginning it was obvious that something was not right with Betts. His crap decision making almost cost us a goal early on when Budurov had to jump in and concede a free kick. He completely lost his rag in giving up the penalty. Since when does an early red card become the better option? Whenever the keeper is sent off, two players suffer. With the exception of his weak distribution, our young keeper has...