April 24, 2014

U.S. Executes Improbable Comeback to Tie El Salvador

We don’t really talk soccer or futbol here much, but I happened to catch last night’s qualifier between the U.S. and El Salvador in an away match last night.  Like all games that the U.S. plays on the road, the environment is terrifying.  Think if you taught Oakland Raiders fans and the Dawg Pound how to coordinate cheers and had them both filling a stadium to root for the same team.  Now put them all in blue and have them screaming, chanting, throwing things, blowing whistles and sounding off police sirens.  That is what the U.S. faced last night in El Salvador.  Combine that with the historically well-known stories of blaring music, firecrackers, and pulled fire alarms at hotels where the U.S. team stays on road trips and you have yourself the daunting task of winning a soccer game.

To be fair, I don’t know if the U.S. had any of those excuses last night in their game against El Salvador.  I should hope that they do though, as the U.S. sleepwalked through the first three fourths of the game.  They seemed lethargic as their counterattacks fell flat and seemed toothless.  Meanwhile, El Salvador seemed to be playing at a different pace.  They were flying to the ball and clogging the midfield and counterattacking at every opportunity.  And it paid off.  They scored their first goal early in the game, and then in the 72nd minute they scored what seemed to be the icing on the cake for El Salvador.  They made the U.S. defense look silly as the left back gave up a run to the end line after getting juked out of his shorts.  A cross and a header later and the U.S. was down by two with about 17 minutes remaining plus or minus injury time.

But the U.S. caught a burst of energy. [Read more...]