Sunday, June 11, 2006

USA Hope Glimmers At The 'Football' World Cup

By many reports, the USA soccer team is good enough to be considered among the top ten teams in terms of talent when they take to the field in Germany for their first match in the 2006 FIFA World Cup tournament.

The game matches the USA against the Czech Republic and will be broadcast June 12 at 18:00 CET - that would be Monday morning at 9:00 am - on ESPN2.

The jersey colors for the game will be -
USA: navy blue shirt, navy blue shorts, navy blue socks
Czech Republic: white shirt, white shorts, white socks

This posting will be updated with the results after the game on Monday.

Excerpts from -

US ambition poses threat to Czechs
by - June 7, 2006

On 12 June at 18:00 CET, the Czech Republic and the United States will meet up in Gelsenkirchen to kick off their FIFA World Cup (TM) campaigns. With both teams desperate to take points from their opening game in a difficult-looking Group E, tension levels at the FIFA World Cup Stadium Gelsenkirchen are bound to be high.
The players

The Czechs will be keen to confirm their status as one of the finest attack-minded sides on the continent and build on the impressive form they showed in reaching the semi-finals at the UEFA European Championship in Portugal two years ago. With Pavel Nedved back from temporary international retirement, towering striker Jan Koller recovered from the knee injury that threatened his participation, and a raft of talent that includes recent Arsenal signing Tomas Rosicky, Milan Baros and Petr Cech, the Czechs will be keen to make their 'debut' at the FIFA World Cup a resounding success.

The USA, for their part, are hunting for a first-ever finals win on European soil and are keen to maintain a recent run of progress that culminated in their quarter-final appearance four years ago in Korea/Japan. Now, as then (when they defeated Portugal), they started against European heavyweights and the pundits gave them little hope of survival. Coach Bruce Arena has assembled a squad of strong campaigners led by the European trio of Claudio Reyna, DaMarcus Beasley and Brian McBride, LA-based playmaker Landon Donovan and the outstanding Bundesliga-based keeper Kasey Keller.

How they qualified

Whereas the Americans coasted through their North, Central American and Caribbean qualifying campaign - finishing in first place over arch-rivals Mexico for the first time in their history - the Czechs struggled a little bit. Finishing five points off the pace set by Netherlands in European qualifying Group 1, they were forced to sweat it out in the play-offs with Norway where, thanks to the return of Nedved, they pulled off a 2-0 aggregate win.

Previous meetings

The two sides have never met in a FIFA World Cup finals as this will be the Czech Republic's first foray following separation from Czechoslovakia. As one half of the old country, they hammered USA 5-1 in their opening game at Italia 90.

Tournament history

A lot of time has passed since then and given the USA's impressive development, Arena will be fancying his side's chances. After reaching the semi-finals with a largely foreign-born side at the first finals in Uruguay in 1930, the USA pulled off a shock by beating England in Brazil in 1950. For the next 40 years, they wallowed in the wilderness only returning to the finals in 1990. After hosting the event in 1994 and finishing with the worst record in 1998, the Americans - with a new professional league in the MLS, and a sudden and unprecedented interest in the world's game - have come on in leaps and bounds as their fairy tale run in 2002 attests.

The Czechs, on the other hand, are debutants in name alone. As Czechoslovakia they qualified for eight FIFA World Cups (TM) and even reached the Final on two occasions (1934 and 1962) - that is more Final games than England or France.

Key contest

The most crucial individual contests on the pitch will surely revolve around the playmaking battle between Donovan and Nedved. It will also be interesting to see whether veteran US centre-back Eddie Pope can handle the Czech attacking duo of Koller and Baros.

All will be revealed on 12 June.

The coaches

Now in his ninth year with the team, Arena is the longest-serving coach in US football history. Known as an outstanding man-manager, the often brusque boss is renowned for getting the best out of his boys. That will be a necessary component if the US are to hold out any hopes of proving their new credentials on European soil, especially up against Karel Bruckner - who is not known as 'The Magician' by accident.
Link Here>>

UPDATE, June 12,2006:

Hope dims as the USA team plays "flat" against the Czech Republic.

USA, 0 - Czech Republic, 3

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