Last night was amazing!
The US National Team played an important World Cup Qualifying game in San Pedro Sula, Honduras yesterday. The rip off was that the game was not televised on national television. The only way you could see it was pay per view at a bar or restaurant. The Honduran Soccer Federation awarded the rights to televise in the United States to a company that does PPV. The majority of the bars and restaurants carrying the game were Hispanic. There were only a small number of English establishments carrying it around the country.
Well, thank you to the Chatham Tap in Indianapolis. They showed it last night. It was standing room only in the bar at 9p already. I did not know there were so many American Soccer fans in the city.
My buddy Mark and I showed up just after 9p to a crowd gathering outside the pub. The pub is a small one with one bar. They had maybe 25 tables plus the bar. We squeezed into the place and tried to find a small place to stand. Mark found some youth soccer coaches he knows and we squeezed into their space.
We decided to grab a couple of beers and order some fish and chips. They serve traditional batter fried fish. The chips were not of the English style. Their menu had a lot of interesting items. Looks like a good place whether there is a big football match or not.
The game started. The mood was good in the bar. Both teams had chances in the 1st half that caused some excitement. Yet, the general mood was, great, we did not give up a goal. The US defence was pretty solid. Charlie Davies had the best chance in the 1st half. Stuart Holden put in a beautiful cross from the right side. He was able to get over the Honduran defender in the middle. Davies put a nice header onto goal. The Honduran goalkeeper made a great save. Davies got his rebound, but was unable to get over the ball skying it over the net. Everyone put their hands over the heads sighing at the missed opportunity.
The game went into halftime 0-0. Time to order another beer. After all, we are feeling really good about our chances here. 0-0 at half on the road is a good position to be in.
The 2nd half starts and we are stunned. Even in the highlights, I still can’t see what really happened. But, we gave up a foul at the top of the box. A great position for a free kick on goal. The Honduran steps up and places a perfect shot in the top left corner. No way for Timmy Howard to stop it. The bar is stunned. It becomes very quiet after that goal. My buddy Mark tries to lift everyone’s spirits by shouting let’s go USA!
Our boys did not back down. Right after the goal against them, they started attacking. We ended up with 2 shots “on goal”. I looked at Mark and said, “next one is going in. 3rd time is a charm.” Sure enough, a long ball out of the back, Charlie Davies heads it on, and big Conor Casey jumps up and beats both a Honduran defender and the goalie. Head and shoulder, the ball ends up in the back of the net.
The bar erupts!!! I wonder what all the people in the area were thinking. Everyone starts chanting USA USA USA USA! Then we go into a chorus of “Conor Casey – clap clap clapclapclap” Conor Casey – clap clap clapclapclap” Conor Casey – clap clap clapclapclap”. It is euphoric. The emotional high at the moment is incredible. It feels so good. Everyone is high fiving and wanting more.
Soon they would get it. The Hondurans need a win. So, the game had to open up. This leads to end to end action and holes in the midfield for the US to start taking over possession. Soon, there are a series of passes from the outside, into Landon Donovan. He picks out Conor Casey in the middle against the last defender. He beats him, gets one versus one against the goalie and slots home the go ahead goal.
Once again the bar totally erupts and no one can believe what is happening. Conor Casey?!!! We were all sceptical about his inclusion. He is proving everyone of us wrong. It was a fantastic finish. Cool and composed, right into the bottom right corner. He is the real deal!
Shouts of USA USA USA! Ole Ole ole ole USA USA!!! ole ole ole ole USA USA! Conor Casey – clap clap clapclapclap” Conor Casey – clap clap clapclapclap” Conor Casey – clap clap clapclapclap”.
Everyone is feeling really high. I think to myself, people say Football is boring? How can you think this is boring? All these people in one place feeding off each others energy enjoying the spectacle our national team is putting on the road. We were so proud of what they were doing. If the rest of the country understood what was really happening, surely they would get sucked into the euphoria a great football match can bring.
The game was not over. Before we knew it, the US drew a foul at the top of the Honduran 18 year box. Landon Donovan steps up. It was a carbon copy of the Honduran chance at the beginning of the half. Where was Donovan going to go with it? He steps up and bangs it past the wall into the top right corner of the goal. IT…WAS…A….BOMB! Holy crap, we are up 3-1. This is unbelievable. The Honduran goalie cheated to the left and Donovan toasts him to the right.
The rest of Indianapolis surely must have heard or felt the euphoria coming from Mass Ave. I mean, that was incredible. The chanting starts again and the clapping is done in honour of Landon Donovan. We are beside ourselves. As the game progresses, the Hondurans seems like they do not have any response. We start talking about how we are going to South Africa!
But wait, there is a moment where the Hondurans penetrate our back line. There is some confusion in the defence and we give up a goal. Uh oh – this ain’t over. (I know, there ain’t no such word as ain’t). Less than 10 minutes left. We have to hold on.
The game is still pretty open and we have some space. But, the Hondurans are still taking it to us. Then on the right side, we give up a free kick that gives them a great opportunity to swing a ball into our box. The ball is swung in, it hits the hand of Stuart Holden, he taps it out. The referee can only call a penalty. We are all stunned. How can we go from 3-1, to 3-2 , now possibly 3-3? This sucks, it is the 86th minute. (Soccer is so boring after all-what?)
Carlos Pavon steps up to take the penalty. Mark tells everyone around us. “He is going to stutter step, come up and try to get Timmy to move and go upper right.” Sure enough, he stutter steps, goes to the right and does his best Roberto Baggio imitation skying the ball a mile over the goal!!!! He missed!!!! The bar erupts yet again at the near miss. (I would hate to be Carlos Pavon).
So, here we are on this emotional roller coaster ride. Nerves in the 1st half. 2nd half starts with a goal against us – an emotional low point. Then, it is 3 high points for us. One more low point and back to nerves. Then, a major low point with the penalty chance. Then, another high point with the penalty miss. Then nerves again. Then, the final whistle. A total feeling of relief, disbelief at what we just saw.
Congratulations to the US National Team for qualifying for its 6th straight World Cup. The last round of the Hex was not always beautiful, but the game yesterday certainly was.
You can check the highlights here:
We did it!!
The Magyar U20 team has made it through to the semi-finals of the U20 World Cup in Egypt after an exciting win against Italy 3-2. Here are the 2 goals by Hungary’s up and coming forward Nemeth, Krisztian. Beautiful passes from Koman and confident finishing from Nemeth.
Though I am a US fan, I am so proud of the Hungarian team. How exciting for little Hungary.
Szep volt fiuk. Meg nem vege, 2 mecs lesz. Hajra Magyarok!
We are hot and heavy into the soccer season. There is a lot of great ball being played all over the world right now:
1. U20 World Cup in Egypt
For me, I am following both the United States and my beloved Magyars.
Unfortunately, the US got knocked out in the first round with a dismal 1-0-2 record placing 3rd in their group with only 3 points. What a disappointing run.
What went wrong? The Coach says it is the lack of professional development in the United States for the young men. Yet, he fails to mention the United States Youth Academy program that has finished its 2nd season this year. He also fails to mention that USL is a good professional development environment for some young players.
I am going to question the Manager’s tacti cs. He is a Dutchie that has been in this country for quite some time with unsuccessful stints at the Revolution, DC United, and Chivas USA. After his MLS failures, he took over the U20 program.
The tactics? Well, I have yet to see a US Team succeed using a 4-3-3 formation in a game. It is an ambitious and attacking minded system. We just don’t have the talent for that system. It requires players with the ability to hit teammates on the run with long passes. Those teammates in turn need to be able to touch the ball nicely onto the ground. We just don’t have those players.
When possession is a problem for most US Teams, the 4-3-3 does not lend itself to a possession game. So, was the Manager in love with his system, or was he playing to his team’s strength? I think he was in love with his system. Though he got one result out of it, it was against a side that only entered the U20 in its history – Cameroon.
The team we are following are considered the golden team of this generation. There has not been this much excitement for Magyar Football since the 1960s. The team is lead by one of the 10 players to watch in the U20 – Krisztian Nemeth. On contract with Liverpool, but currently on loan with AEK Athens, Nemeth is an exceptional player.
The sad thing is he did get a nasty knock on his ankle in game 1 against Honduras. While he has not shown the energy he had when he started, he did provide an important goal to put his team ahead against the United Arab Emeriates.
The rest of the team look completely different from what we all are used to seeing. They don’t seem to be a side that is going to fall apart from adversity. The Honduran result did not relfect the true nature of the team. I will tell anyone to watch the game. The Hondurans played Central American tactics when they got a lead = stalling. The broke up the game every chance they by feigning injury. This did not allow our team to get back into the rythym they were enjoying before the first injury started.
The last 2 games showed the class of the team. They won their group and made it to the round of 16.
Tough game with the Czechs awaited us with our 1st round of 16 in the country’s history. The Czech’s were the runner-ups 4 years ago.
Our Magyar Fiuk opened the scoring from a 35 yard beautiful blast from Mate Kiss. It may be a candidate for goal of the tournament. The Czechs looked a better team for some parts and their persistence paid off as the equalized in the 1st half. Going into the 2nd half, both teams battled it out, but no one could find the advantage over the other. After 90 minutes, the match ended 1-1.
As we are in the knockout rounds, the match had to go into extra-time. 2, 15 minute halfs to continue to see who could get the advantage. The Czechs scored 2 minutes into the 1st overtime. They had some good movement, our central defender slipped and the Czech forward was able to find the space to put one away.
Their lead did not last long. Our boys started to fight back. As luck would have it, Nemeth was fouled on the left side of the 18 yard box. Vladimir Koman, the central midfielder that directs all the traffic stepped up and put a beautiful free kick out of the reach of the Czech goalie. We are now 2-2. The overtime would end with a 2-2. Onto penalty kicks!
Penalty kicks are the worse way to lose. If you win, they are the greatest. I am writing this from work, so I need to get to the point. The Magyar team won on penalties 4-3. Gulacsi (Goolachi) made several saves to help his team and was the hero on the night.
Our team faces an even tougher challenge tomorrow on Friday. They face the mighty Italians who are always tough in a tournament. Let’s keep our fingers cross that they make it to the semi-finals.
Either way, I am happy for our team and happy for little Hungary. Maybe Magyar foci is making its way back up.
Next topic – World Cup Qualifying.