USA 1 – 3 Paraguay
What a game! The US suffered a well deserved loss despite playing a good game. Well deserved because the name of the game is scoring goals and they managed to score only one after having what seemed like a zillion chances.
Lets start by calling out the players who couldn’t figure out how to finish:
Realistically, they had about 4 easy scores between them. How’s that possible against a good Paraguayan defense? The USA got no R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Paraguay expected to come in and stroll against the Americans. And somehow they did just that!? Go figure.
Roque Santa Cruz, the big star everybody had their eyes on, might as well have been playing his PS2 at home because nobody saw him today. USA turned him completely irrelevant. Even so, he was better than the US strikers. Twellman stunk. Badly. When he managed to get a shot off, it was soft and weak. Johnson was forced to put on the pressure by himself for most of the 90 minutes and he gave a great effort but always wide of the mark.
It allowed several of the newbies to make an impression on the attack but nobody came through. Klejstan and Moor both missed easy headers when the goal was all but guaranteed. Mapp came in to replace an excellent Olson and right away missed a great opportunity. The only goal for the US came on an amazing strike by Clark, easily the best player for the Stars & Stripes. Later in the game he would get off another missile which was saved by an enormous effort by Bobavilla.
Which brings us to the story of the game for the Guaranis. When their starting keeper got injured on a freak goal kick, in came the backup – Bobavilla – who nobody in the world had previously heard of. The super sub would be on top of every shot on goal and prevented the US from scoring the 5 or so goals that they should have. Meanwhile, the grass was not greener on the other side of the fence. Keller was slow and had a dismal first half. He came to life later on making several key saves but it was too little and too late. In his defense, if the States could have scored, his performance wouldn’t be as magnified as it is now.
And what about Bornstein? Well, he had a decent game until what is surely the most amateur gaffe in the tournament. He practically gave Paraguay the lead at 2-1 with a “what where you thinking?!” pass. It wasn’t a great day for Bornstein, or Conrad, or the rest of the team with the exclusions of Ricardo Clark and Olson. Another guy who struggled was Feilhaber. I know I am going to take some heat for this (because of the huge Benny bandwagon that started after his BRILLIANT goal against Mexico) but its pretty easy to target Benny as FAILhaber. He played poorly on defense and was instrumental in Paraguay’s first goal after playing badly against Argentina as well. Let Benny get his feet back on the ground from a great Gold Cup and try to improve steadily. Everybody got a bit too excited about his game.
With this loss, the US is out of it and Paraguay moves through to the second round, regardless of what happens when they face Argentina in their next game. Roque had an off game but the role players like Santana and Cabañas played well. Whats remarkable about Paraguay in both of their games was their effectiveness on attack. When they shoot, they score.
Boy would it have been a great day for US Soccer if they could have done the same.
Aldo Bobavilla. GK, Paraguay.
The second string goalkeeper was anything but. Stellar performance off the bench.
The Ugly Duckling
Jonathan Bornstein. D, USA.
An ugly, ugly error on defense will haunt him in his sleep tonight. Did I mention it really ugly?