Will Parchman with a massively fantastic missive.
Guys. I want to apologize for assaulting your fine literary senses here, but there will be caps lock tonight. The mood is heightened. Cockles are raised. Fine hairs are on edge. Jermaine Jones is still a person who plays soccer. So yeah. I’m sorry in advance, but tonight is not a night for feather dusters and foot-overs and happy winks. Tonight is a night for sledgehammers and biceps exploding from extra tight Affliction T-shirts and glass shards and metal studs aerating unsuspecting cheeks. Tonight is the night when the big bad giant steps on David’s head and eats his slingshot.
Style points are extinct as far as I’m concerned. It’s time for old fashioned American footy. Out-run ‘em, beat ‘em up and score ugly, high-percentage goals. Let’s get it.
6:59 p.m. – Steve Fenn of Big D Soccer tweets this from Columbus: “In the American Outlaws section tonight. Everyone’s spirited, but it feels like some of the energy is coming from desperation.”
THANKS FOR THE CONFIDENCE BOOST STEVIE. Desperation you say? Guatemala is leading A&B 1-0 at halftime you say? This game is edging ever closer to must win, you say? I don’t even know if I’d want to be there. I feel like I’d do something stupid, like yell at a child or drop-kick a bench. Frankie Hejduk (HEYDUDE) is leading cheers on the sideline? WELL NOW I FEEL MUCH BETTER.
American lineup is out.
Howard; Cherundolo, Cameron, Bocanegra, Johnson; Williams; Zusi, Jones, Torres; Dempsey, Gomez
4-1-3-2, at least nominally. Five changes in the lineup tonight from the 2-1 loss in Kingston. Dolo and Boca are back, which is nice. Danny Williams holds in midfield, which is fine, his natural role anyway (nice to see him off the wing, yes?). Torres is on the left wing, which burns me everlasting. I have (famously!) given up on Torres but have hope that he’s remembered to bring his legs with him tonight. Graham Zusi is on the right and somewhere an angel loses its wings. The two issues from last week were a lack of width and no link-up in the middle. I don’t see any fix for those issues here, but I find it hard to blame Klinsmann because this injury-depleted roster hasn’t been all that kind to him.
PACKED house in Columbus. That’s nice to see, and touching that it coincides with such an emotional day. But even Ian Darke’s buttery English-y voice and all those U-S-A chants caroming around the concrete barriers of Crew Stadium can’t allay the feeling of oddness about this fixture. Columbus has the good juju though. Darke calls it a “happy hunting ground.”
Twellman: “Tonight is easily (Klinsmann’s) biggest game in charge of the United States.” Er. Yeah. I’d say. Kickoff time. Leggo.
‘1 – The US is already looking to play slicker, more poised footy. I can’t describe how glad I am that Boca is back to facilitate that. He’s beyond calm.
Twellman: “This may be Torres’ last straw.” How is he not out of straws at this point? How is he not completely strawless? Utterly devoid of sipping devices?
‘4 – Dolo is so good on the right side. You beautiful Hannoverian (don’t judge me) right back. Feeding in crosses like a parent feeding an incontinent baby strained peas. Did I just call Herc Gomez an incontinent baby? Whatever. Maybe.
‘5 – Happy with how solidly the formation is sitting. Danny Williams and Jones showing good poise as Jones sort of stacks high on top of Williams. How did anyone think Williams was a winger? Hurts the soul. He’s been good so far though.
‘6 – ZUSI BAR. CROSSBAR. Did Twellman just call that a hockey deik? I don’t care. Zusi, my fellow American. I’ll take back everything I’ve ever said about you if score tonight. Maybe not everything. Actually nothing at all. But I’ll be happy.
‘8 – Just mixed myself a Jack & Coke. Going to take a healthy rip every time Darke says something about a DANGEROUS JAMAICA COUNTERATTACK. Seen nothing of the sort, really. Just a couple of free kicks.
‘9 – Dempsey is the bellwether. He generally settles wherever service is best, and he’s drifting waaaay right toward Zusi and Dolo and away from… you guessed it, my man Torres. He’s being phased out already. I’M SURPRISED. Wait, no I’m not at all.
’12 – Steve Cherundolo. Can you be my dad? Incredible leading cross gets Herc in at 15 yards and it’s only Herc’s slightly clunky chest touch that lets Nosworthy break it up. Herc is always in the right place, just a matter of finishing touches. Seventh start in a row for the man who deserves it more than Jozy. Just my way of thinking.
’14 – Jones draws a weak free kick, a bail-out call really, but it gets the US the chance at a kick. Herc’s pretty in-swinger hits Jones RIGHT IN THE FACE and he does nothing with it. Jones failed on that possession, got bailed out by the ref on the free kick and then flubbed the hell out of a header freer than Chuck Norris waving American flags on a red, white & blue unicorn farting the National Anthem. I am rapidly souring on Jermaine Jones.
’18 – Herc challenges Miller on another free kick. Twellman actually makes a good point (!) on Herc and Dempsey, neither of whom are doing much to stretch the back line. Both look more like midfielders playing striker than strikers in the mood. This dominant spell of possession is cool and all, but like I said at the top, GOALS, BRA.
’20 – BLARGGGGGGGGG MILLER WHAT A SAVE. Williams with a beautiful pass splayed out for Dolo, who rocketed in a ball that Miller pushed onto the post somehow.
Seconds later the goal almost comes again from Dempsey’s feed to Fabian Johnson. Goals. WHERE ARE YOU. Darke: “Have to say, USA unlucky not to be ahead.” HahahI KNOW IAN.
’23 – Zusi follows up a bouncing ball with a sliced volley that rips over the crossbar by a foot. This is kind of like a cat pawing at a piece of yarn that’s tumbled under the couch. It’s kind of sad to watch, but you have to think that given persistence the cat will get that damn bundle of fabric. Notice I’ve given the yarn no chance of catching the cat. Not possible.
Saw Miller’s save again on Dolo’s ball in that was deflected. What a damn save. Finger-tipped it against the post. Jamaica looks absolutely flooded.
’27 – Danny Williams is what Kyle Beckerman would be if Kyle Beckerman was better (and I like Beckerman). Very, very impressed with the Williams tonight. Jamaica just earned a corner. Lolwut?
Twellman just said to Jermaine Jones, by proxy of television, “Don’t get caught up in any of the baby games.” Needed that little laugh. THANKS TAYS.
’30 – WHAT IS HAPPENING. Danny Williams just rattled the post again. Apoplectic. A 30-yard WONDERstrike from Williams just pinged the post, and that screamer just blasted the inside shade of the woodwork. YOU DIDN’T SACRIFICE THAT GOAT LIKE I TOLD YOU, DID YOU. Thank you for confirming my suspicions that you are awesome, Danny. Goal next time though.
’33 – Herc was onside you meat clowns. He didn’t finish anyway, but whatevs.
88th minute and Guatemala is still up 1-0. A&B won’t score. That’s three points for the Quetzalcoatlians.
’35 – US has a 79-21 possession edge. Three of the Americans’ six shots have hit the woodwork. In other news, the capricious soccer gods are ripping the heads off their USA voodoo dolls with venom.
’39 – Okay, so I can give credit where it’s due, and Zusi’s been good tonight. Shown some spots going forward that’ve surprised me. I have no confidence that this is a consistent thing, but he’s made the right side a nightmare for the Boyz tonight. Dolo. My man. Been a beast on the overlap, too.
Guatemala wins. Blechshpalshshhshs.
Have you ever done something really well and not gotten due credit? On the other end, have you ever done something really terribly but gotten praise heaped on you for it? That last bit is Jamaica right now. Let me tell you a little real life parable. In the fourth grade, I took a typing class. Back in those days (mid-90s) the internet was just coming on and computer programs were pretty, well… bad. Our typing teacher was a program called Mario Teaches Typing.
The system worked like this: you did your typing (it moved Mario through his virtual world), wrote down your words per minute and took it to the teacher after each class period. Me being a little dirtbag, I cheated. My real words per minute was around 15. By the end of the year I’d lied my way up to around 45. I hadn’t done any real work, but hey, I got a certificate as the most improved in the class. That’s Jamaica right now. Lying little cretins. They’re not 0-0 good. Goals. GIVE ME GOALS YOU DIRTY AMERICANS.
’46 – Klinsmann says we need goals. Thanks Jurgis. You’re the best.
’48 – Bad giveaway from Dempsey leads in a Jamaican for a clear goal opportunity before he skies it. Going to be dealing with some of this as the US commits so many forward. Darke is going to lose his mind mentioning all these counters. “JAMAICA, THEY’RE SO COUNTEREY.”
’50 – Jose Torres update. He still sucks.
’52 – Can somebody please make a “DOLO YOLO” T-shirt? Please?
US passing accuracy is 91 percent right now. They’ve hit the post three times. Possession is hovering around 80 percent. There are no goals. THIS IS MY NIGHTMARE.
’55 – HERC JERK!!!!!!!!! IN THE FAAAAAAACE!!!!!!!!!
‘55.1 – Suck on that free kick. Justice. Not brilliant but well-placed. Funny that THAT’S the goal that Miller fails to save. Should have had it by all rights after a litany of incredible saves. By what I’ve seen from Jamaica it will take a Herc-ulean (EH??? EH???) effort to overturn this. Just fruits.
’57 – Ian Darke wonders if Miller is hurt because he’s not taking kicks anymore. It’s his pride, Ian. He hurt his pride.
’59 – Why don’t I feel any more settled now? A little more buoyant, maybe, but Jamaica have suddenly added a bit of venom to their effort going forward. Omar Cummings rifles a shot just wide of Howard’s near post. That’s the first time I’ve mentioned Tim Howard tonight. Let’s keep it that way. Is this like survivor’s guilt? No? Nothing at all like survivor’s guilt? Touche.
’63 – Foot is off the gas. Where’s the urgency? The goal differential isn’t close enough that this makes sense. Lest we forget the counterey countermasters are lurking. This is where the midfield needs to start exerting pressure. This is where we miss Bradley’s calming influence. Jones is all elbows and knees and BREK SHEA SIGHTING.
’67 – Brek Shea comes on for Torres, who DID NOT HAVE A GOOD NIGHT TAYLOR. Just because Lindsay Lohan didn’t crash her car into an orphanage one Saturday night of the year doesn’t mean she wasn’t driving hammered on Cool Breezes that evening.
’70 – Ryan Johnson almost got in on a header. Dolo was there. Again, feel free to become my legal father, Steve. Feel free.
’72 – Edu on for Zusi. Good sub, I think. Midfield will sag back with Edu, Jones and Williams forming a rotating triangle dependent on who gets forward. It always keeps at least two back and effectively closes down the right forward flank for American business. Expect to see all the wide play, or whatever of it there is, go through Brek on the left.
’77 – Finish. Good heavens you scoundrels, finish this game.
’80 – JOZY TIME YOU CRAZIES. Great shift from the Herc Jerk. Clobberin’ time for the drop-back Jozy.
’83 – Howard finally being asked to do things. Defense being tested. Don’t like. Don’t like. There is a nervousness here. Don’t like.
’87 – This has been a meh final 15. Very unimpressed by the rhythm late, but it’s about three points. Style. Doesn’t. Matter. Tonight.
’90 – Jozy???? Back heel fail. I know that it’s WHAT IS MILLER DOING. Dempsey fail! How are you dispossessed by the keeper 45 yards from his back line?? This has become strange. Very, very strange.
FINAL – 1-0. I’m good luck? I’m good luck.
Siege warfare is unbecoming of this group, so it was nice to see the (deserved) breakthrough come. I always knew this would be a workmanlike game. Exploding biceps and hammers and the like. So I’m okay with dominating proceedings and taking a 1-0 win despite a relatively whatever final 15 minutes. It was deserved, if a little wobbly. Boca and Dolo (my man of the match) were invaluable. This was as good as I’ve seen Herc in the stripes, but Danny Williams was my story of the night. Emerged as a force tonight. Very tidy, very clean, razor-wire sharp. Again, I’m not harping on style points. I’m harping on real points, and those came. Spain only beat Georgia 1-0 tonight on an 86th minute goal. It happens. Top of the group? Top of the group.
Just realized I haven’t had dinner yet. Butler! A KING’S FEAST.