USA 2-0 Prathet Thai
A spellbinding report from Magi Raistlin.
There’s no higher point in a local lad’s career than when he earns the opportunity to don the red, white, and blue. Whether it’s a friendly or a competitive match, it matters not. The long walk from the locker room to the field of a packed stadium is the moment that each and every player has dreamt of since boyhood. The fact that the dream they have worked towards meeting for so long has been realized will make even the toughest of athletes take notice of their emotions. Whether they are brought to tears on national television – as was the case with the usually robust Brian Mahoney – or simply feel the euphoria course through their body in the form of goosebumps, they feel that moment like none other. They feel a sense of gratitude towards each and every coach that has helped them on their long and sometimes winding journey. They feel humbled to be given such trust by their manager, the United States Soccer Federation, and their loyal supporters. Perhaps more than anything else, though, they feel the anticipation of the match, which is only minutes away from getting underway as they step out and onto the field. For ninety minutes, they will give all they have in them to ensure that the trust which has been bestowed upon them was done so deservedly. For ninety minutes they will play like their lives depended on it. For ninety minutes they will pour out their souls onto the pitch. This past Friday’s match away to Thailand was no exception, for our boys made the sport they play and love seem like pure poetry at the best of times.
It was clear from the beginning of the match that the United States’ manager had instructed his team to sacrifice the midfield in favor of a counterattacking approach. The players were all too willing to follow the gaffer’s instructions as they focused primarily on their defensive and offensive responsibilities, leaving only two men in the midfield in the opening minutes. Playing such an extreme formation as the 5-2-3 is always a risky proposition. It can either work out beautifully for any team that employs such an approach, or it can end in a pure bloodbath. For certain, to call upon one’s players to lineup in such a formation during a national team match is a gutsy call. Some might say that to do so takes a certain amount of bravado. Such courage may have been lacking in years past, but it was on full display as dan7857 led the troops from the sidelines.
Ironically enough, though, this was an approach that both teams’ managers went with in this intriguing matchup. Against such an unfamiliar opponent, neither manager knew just what the other would do. Watching game tapes of each team’s previous matches likely led one another to believe that each team would put out a formation that favored a midfield first approach. However, that was not to be the case in this match.
Ben Rosenberg - Scorer of the 1st goal
While both teams were content to sit back and absorb pressure, looking for a quick break in the early moments of the game, it was a special event that broke the deadlock in the favor of the visiting team. In the 16th minute, Victor Pederson broke out from his central position and moved towards the wing in order to deliver an extraordinary and unexpected cross, which was finished off by the ever speedy Ben Rosenberg. The speedster flipped his game jersey over his head and ran down the sidelines in a jubilant fashion, celebrating his opening goal. The television cameras zoomed in on his tee-shirt that had what seemed to be an interesting message written upon it. “#3 striker??!?” it read. The text scrawled on his shirt was clearly meant as a message to the coach on the sidelines in an effort to make the manager consider the striker for a more prominent role in future matches. Whether such a ploy for more playing time will pay off, remains to be seen. What is clear is that Rosenberg has stiff competition for his striker position, for Rod Tobin showed up moments later to put his own stamp on the game. The experienced forward took advantage of some confusion within Thailand’s backline and struck home a superb strike, bringing the score line to 2 – 0 in favor of the United States.
Leading by a pair of goals, the US players seemed sure of themselves and began to focus even more on their defensive efforts than before. For it was a safe bet that Thailand would likely try to regroup and comeback in a more concerted effort.
Liberty showing her appreciation for the teams efforts.
Dan7857 looked to make a change in the thirtieth minute in order to make the team a bit more balanced, subbing out a center defender and inserting his replacement in a position on the wing. A few minutes later, Thailand managed to suppress an attack from the visitors and spring forth with a counter; however, Rhett James was more than up to the task as he pushed the shot wide of the frame while completing an acrobatic dive.
Much of the second half seemed like a chess match, as each manager made a number of changes, trying to break through each other’s defensive lines. It was clear that the United States had the better run of things in the later stages of the match, as they were able to produce a pair of purely magical counterattacking opportunities that just went wide of the net. In the end, it was a deserved victory for the boys in blue.
The United States’ senior national team squares off against Azerbaijan this coming Friday. Make sure to tune in as our team looks to make it four for four against teams from Asia in a five week span.