So yesterday was a great day for soccer fans, if you don't mind watching one of your two favorite teams give up a late goal and lose 3 points, and you don't mind watching the other indulge in lackluster and unimaginative play against one of the best teams in the world. First the US: the squad started off the game with solid play, but gradually conceded to England's midfield pressure, their own defensive gaffes, and an inability to create any decent chances up top. The latter is truly the worst problem this team faces, as there is simply no one on the US side that other teams should fear getting near the goal. Josh Wolff was once one of MLS' top players, but without decent service (Landon Donovan was out with a groin injury) he's simply a non-factor. Former Dallas Burn/FC Dallas striker Eddie Johnson was worse, whiffing on his only decent chances at goal but otherwise disappearing for long stretches, and helping to prove that he's simply incapable of playing at the international level (the 3-goal performance against Panama that I witnessed in 2004 being to this point the highlight of his professional career.) Freddy Adu, subbed in the 2nd, was better but not enough. Veteran Eddie Lewis had a decent run at the goal the ended in a great cross, but had no other opportunities to threaten England. With the retirement of players like Brian McBride (who is, incidentally, returning to the US after four seasons with Fulham FC) US soccer simply lacks the ability to reliably threaten the opposition's goal. An inability to score only magnifies the problems of inadequate midfield play and defensive errors, and it's hard to see how this team can threaten anyone on the world stage unless some attacking players emerge. A match against Spain is coming up on June 4th, and the US will have to play better than they did last night to avoid a shellacking in Santander.
FC Dallas does not lack for the ability to score (Kenny Cooper recorded his fifth goal of the season last night against Houston thanks to a beautiful first touch...maybe the US should consider calling him up again) but they have a frustrating inability to concentrate defensively at crucial moments of the game, allowing Dwayne DeRosario to score in the 93rd minute and giving up 3 key points at Pizza Hut Park. FC Dallas also got a player ejected for the third time in three matches, which is perhaps a sign of their own frustration with their play on the field. FC Dallas plays Colorado on Sunday.