Sunday, June 6, 2010

Which rabbits will Verbeek now pull out of the hat after loss to the USA?

Australia came down to earth with a thud when they lost 3-1 to the United States of America on Saturday night [Australian time] in the Socceroos’ final practice match before taking on Germany in the World Cup.

The defeat follows wins against New Zealand (2-1) and Denmark (1-0), which may have given the Socceroos a false sense of invincibility.

Coach Pim Verbeek tried to shrug off the defeat as unimportant, but his body language and tone indicated something else.

A worrying aspect of the loss was that Australia fielded their first-choice defence and yet could easily have lost by five or six goals.

The Americans missed an open goal and had another goal disallowed for off-side when it looked quite legitimate.

Australia had 58 per cent of the possession and 7 shots at goal compared to the USA’s six, while the Socceroos had 10 corners and the Americans only three.

Vince Grella was responsible for the opening goal when his error deep in midfield gave possession to the Americans, while late in the match he earned a yellow card. He may well be a liability when the games are for real as he might have earned two reds and a yellow in the three practice matches to date.

Josh Kennedy was ineffective in attack and missed two gilt-edged chances. If we rely on him in attack, we will be in trouble.

Harry Kewell and Brett Emerton did not make appearances and it is of concern that they may be considered for the match against Germany when they have had no game time at all in the warm-ups.

On a pitch that resembled the home turf of the meerkats in the wildlife programme “Meerkat Manor”, Australia got off to the worst possible start when Edson Buddle gained possession after Grella’s slip and fired past Mark Schwarzer from the edge of the box in the 4th minute.

It was only Buddle’s third cap for the USA and his first goal for his country.

Tim Cahill, upon whom Australia’s hopes appear to rest when it comes to goals, equalised in the 19th minute when he poked home a corner from the far side of the 6-yard box.

The USA should have been 2-0 up by that stage as Robbie Findley missed an open goal in the 14th minute after he had sprung the off-side trap and rounded Schwarzer.

Only a brilliant save by Schwarzer denied Clint Dempsey in the 26th minute, the American shooting low from the left and the Australian keeper getting a fingertip to the ball and diverting it past the far post for a corner.

Buddle restored the Americans’ lead in the 31st minute. Marco Bresciano was unable to prevent Steve Cherundulo from floating over a pin-point cross from the right and Buddle nodded home from inside the 6-yard box as Craig Moore and Luke Wilkshire looked in vain for the guided missile homing in on its target.

Kennedy squandered the chance to equalise when he missed a simple header from just 4 metres out in the 34th minute after Scott Chipperfield’s precise left-wing cross.

Moore and Dempsey were both booked in the 37th minute after Moore’s foul on the American ended with both players facing up to each other with their foreheads touching and both posturing like a pair of mountain goats about to have a biff.

Australia created several good chances in the second half through Bresciano and Chipperfield, but the USA’s substitute goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann saved both shots.

The USA should have had a third goal when Buddle fired against the crossbar and the ball rebounded to Findley, whose shot was turned against the bar by Schwarzer. Michael Bradley’s diving header put the ball in the net, but the effort was disallowed because of a controversial off-side decision.

In the 3rd minute of stoppage time, a cross from the right by Donovan was swept home by Herculez Gomez to complete the Americans’ 3-1 victory and put them in the right frame of mind for when the World Cup begins.

In contrast, the Australians face more questions than answers, and it’s a worry when coach Verbeek may be considering pulling Kewell and Emerton like rabbits out of a hat for the showdown with Germany.


Ril said...

It's probably a good loss to have in a way, as some of these flaws have been obvious for a while but we kept getting lucky/late results to cover the cracks.

It's also clear that the defensive/boring style we've been playing under Pim has to remain for us to have a chance of progressing from the group, as tonight we tried to play more attacking, and our defence were unable to cope with the counter attacks from the inevitable turnovers with our poor midfield passing.

We just have to hope for minimal damage against Germany, and aim for wins against the other two. Not playing Kewell was the right thing to do, the only benefit would've been if he could play 90mins which would be too much of a risk, any less would prove nothing as he's been able to train well lately. He'll come off the bench against Germany and start for the other two.

Anonymous said...

couldn't we on the eve of the world cup just be a bit more excited Walter? It's a fantastic achievement for Australia to top the region and simply qualify - look how stoked we were last time around - yet every report lately pulls apart the team, the personal, the coaching. your dedication to reporting on football is unquestionably fantastic, as is your coverage of local games. And given this and the fact that you are so respected locally as a media commentator, I can't help but to lose enthusiasm with our cup squad as each report pulls them apart!

sure we may not be in the best shape or have a full contingent of fit players in career best form, but we are there, and that's enough to get excited and interested and support our country as they do their best.

Richard Bladel said...

Well said Walter - it was a big test for us last night and we failed miserably, it should have been 5 or 6 - 1. All the attention on bloody Harry Kewell is getting very old. How the hell can Verbeek even include him in the squad? OK he's a good player, but even the best can't get anywhere near the kind of match hardened touch you need to compete at this level if you haven't played for months. It's a fantasy, as you rightly point out. Grella is seriously misfiring. What about Culina? Our defence is slow, there was nowhere near enough pressure on the ball in defensive midfield, most of our players touches were poor, with the ball bobbling up when the Yanks were stroking it about in contrast. The USA were quick, agile & mobile they played well in patches, but their defense looks panicky and will struggle against top level strikers. The less said about Josh Kennedy the better. How can you play a guy like that at the top level? He is incredibly poor on the floor, doesn't keep possession, hasn't the aggression of a great striker, (is bloody soft actually) doesn't position himself well, isn't agile enough and it speaks volumes that it was only when Timmy was there did we score. There was very little combination play in our attacking midfield - no quick feet, no little triangles no one twos trying to get in between 'em. They constantly took too many touches and didn't move the ball quickly enough. I wanted to see more of the young striker he put on near the end, see what he could do with some more game time. In fact maybe it's the younger hungrier brigade that could help us out big time, I know it's important to have experience at this level, but Jeez, I can't even see us scoring against the better teams at this rate. Germany will be too quick and clinical for us if we have a porous midfield like we had last night.

Anonymous said...

ok ok - let's not forget how many wonderful saves hanneman made for the USA last night, the scoreline should have bee the other way round but for his saves.At least 4 of them I counted, plus tim howard was very sharp in the first half to deny culina.

not a bad showing by Australia like everyone is trying to makeout.

yes there were some costly turnovers in mid, but overall the group is very tired from a huge training load and created many very good goalscoring opportunities.

Unknown said...

I've been waiting for this result for a while now. Big Josh Kennedy, while effective against the smaller Asian teams, is no Viduka. While big Dukes was critised for not scoring often, he brought the Australian midfield into the game by holding the ball up and allowing them to get forward. He is the biggest name out this world cup for sure.
Also, leaving out Scott McDonald, a proven goalscorer in Europe, shows the defensive mentality that Pim has in contrast to the offensive manner in which we played under Hiddink. What will happen if we go 2-0 down, are we still going to play with 1 striker upfront?!
Hopefully things turn in the next week!!!

Brian Young said...

No surprise; the deficiencies of our aging team were there for all to see.
Last night it was the pitch, the altitude, the humidity and the phase of the moon that was to blame. The Kewell fitness thing has become a sick joke that has lingered for years, culminating in a new frenzy every major tournament as it approaches.
Where is the new crop of talent?
Roll on the second round when our players will become spectators like us. Then we can concentrate on the real candidates.

Anonymous said...

Why is it not clear that Vidosic gives us so much when he comes on. Start the kid!

Marsh said...

Richard Bladel, Kewell is the best player Australia has ever produced and if he plays we are a chance to maybe cause some upsets in the world cup because he is that good.

Do people forget what Kewell did at the last WC? played through the pain of injury in all 3 games and got us through against Croatia.

Richard Bladel said...

Yes Marsh - I'm not doubting Kewell's talent - just his match readiness. Can't remember whether he'd been playing regularly last time, but the reflexes, the timing, the speed, the quickness in the feet aren't there if you don't kick a ball in anger for a few weeks let alone months. What it does say to me is that we do have a lack of depth, and we haven't explored our options, like Anonymous said - what about giving the younger blokes like Vidosic etc a decent run in the lead up, they are perhaps the next Kewells - all you do by putting Kewell on a quarter baked is play effectively with ten and a half men cos he wont give you enough, can't run out a whole match, you wont get the magic against the good opponents.. I'm happy to be proved wrong by him - love him to score a hatfull, cos no other bastard outside Tim's gonna..

pim's right hand said...

kewell is sharp at training but why risk him in glorified training run with nothing riding on it? let's be honest... we all agree that we have not blodd enough new young players in the tommy oar and vidosic mould in qualifying and we should have... but the reality is that we are now about to start the world cup!!!!! the pinnacle of football for any player or team!!!! it is not time to blood young players for the future? this is the future... this is what you build towards for 4 years!!! forget the future after the world cup... right now it is all about results in the world cup and if kewell, moore, grella etc are the best we have at the moment than play them.... after the world cup we then need to blood players for the next world cup....

as for culina..... he is a great player and the a-league is a joke to him.....

the weaknesses i see are selections of both kennedy and garcia (worst player to ever don the shirt), i would have liked to have seen spiranovic and djite

Marsh said...

I agree that Vidosic should of been starting against Denmark and USA I think he offers alot. Garcia and Kennedy are painful to watch.

My lineup for 1st game

Wilkshire Moore Neill Chippers
Grella Culina
Breci Cahill Vidosic

I know this lineup won't happen but I'd like to see it.

pim's right hand said...

marsh I think that they should look at you instead of vidmar as assistant coach.......

I would like to see the following line up for the first game -


wilkshire moore neill chippers

culina grella

emerton cahll vidosic


or if no emerton, i would like to see culina go to right side and valeri come in to holding role next to grella.

i am extremely disappointed that they have jedinak, garcia and milligan in the squad... they offer us nothing at all and i would have preferred to see djite, carle and spiranovic included as i think atleast they offer a different style off the bench.......

holman is a very good inclusion as he can come on and give us that box to box player...... he could be the trump card as he would be capable of coming into cahill's position and we could push cahill up front if needed..... bresciano i think is purely a bench player as he is too slow... he offers us a different style though if we are struggling....

Anonymous said...

I agree with Adam...leeaving scott mcdonald out was a mistake....kennedy is terrible, only has height,.....u cant score heaps of goals for celtic in the SPL if u arent any good....sure he hasnt scored for australia yet but its just a matter of time and then the flood gates will open i believe, culina should be playing in europe....
heres my starting 11

wilkshire, Moore, Neill, Chippers
Grella, Culina
Emerton, Cahill, Bresciano

hopefully we can make it through the group stages and most likely if we do take it to the poms!!