Monday, July 20, 2009

Monday Mudita

The US Men's Soccer team outlasted Panama, 2-1, in the quarterfinals of the Gold Cup over the weekend. The favored US Men actually fell behind, 1-0, after allowing Panama to bundle home a rebound off a saved shot late in the first half. Having equalized early in the second stanza the US played with greater purpose and insightfulness in the second 45 minutes. Still, it was knotted, 1-1, when extra time began. Late in the first period of extra time Panamanian player Roman Torres made a reckless tackle at the top of the penalty area. I'm always for letting the boys play, but, in this case, this high challenge certainly put the referee in a spot where he felt compelled to blow the whistle. Kenny Cooper, the fouled player and MLS employee, dispatched the PK. The US held from there. Game. Mudita.

Up next...Honduras on Thursday night in one of two Semi Finals on Thursday.

Not only does this win keep the US on track for a Finals showdown with rival Mexico in the Final at Giants Stadium on July 26 but it maintains their international momentum from the runner-up finish in the Confederations Cup. With a year until the World Cup in South Africa the US has a real-ish chance to propel itself into the seeded group of teams atop the world rankings. We are currently 12th and the top 8 teams are seeded for the Cup, securing more favorable draws than unseeded entrants. Winning the Gold Cup and keeping the pedal to the floor throughout the remaining qualification games would go a long, long way towards finding the boys a more hospitable group in the opening round of the World Cup in 2010 than they had in 2006 when they were grouped with Italy, Ghana and the Czech Republic. That didn't work out so well.

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