Sunday, June 5, 2011

Spain Routs USA 4 - 0

Yesterday's international 'friendly' match between the United States and defending World Cup champion Spain, ended in a total rout of the United States as the Spanish cruised to a 4 - 0 victory over the Americans at Gillete Stadium in Foxborough, Massachussetts.  Overall, the Americans were outplayed, out-hustled, out-shot and out-scored.

Both teams were without their usual starting lineup.  Spain was without Barcelona defenseman Carles Puyol, who is recovering from knee surgery, as well as the brilliant but exhausted Xavi Hernandez who is also recovering form the gruelling Spanish league season.  Andres Iniesta, Pedro Rodriguez and Iker Casillas were all on the bench for this match, but even so 7 of the 11 starting players for Spain-- the Spanish bench, for the most part--were still either from FC Barcelona or Real Madrid.

Similarly, the USA also played without some of its best players.  Landon Donovan, aka 'Captain America' was unable to play due to an undisclosed illness, and Carlos Bocanegra was also not in uniform.  Oddly, neither Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, or Steve Chernundolo were in the starting lineup despite being suited up, and only made it onto the pitch in the second half as substitutes.

But by then, the match was already over, as the Spanish scored three goals in the space of 13 minutes in the first half.  Santi Cazorla, Alvaro Negredo, and Fernando Torres all scored, leaving US goalkeeper Tim Howard pounding his hips in obvious frustration.  In the second half, Spain put the match away when Santi Cazorla scored his second goal of the match off a beautiful mid-field pass from Xabi Alonso, culminating an effort that saw Spain outshoot the United States 20 - 6, with a fifth goal dissallowed for offsides.  It was a complete domination of the American side.

After the match, Spanish coach Vicente del Bosque said, "I think we dominated, but we are also aware that they had important players who did not play."  Given that this match was essentially a proving ground for the second team for each side, I find his comments both kind and amusing.  Presumably, the USA would have done better against the Spanish second team had Donovan, Dempsey and Bradley all started; but would the result have been any different if the match was between the first team for both sides?  I don't think so.

US Coach Bob Bradley's comments after the match were also rather explanatory in nature.  "We choose always to take these kinds of challenges, play these kinds of teams, because we feel it's the best way to improve," Bradley said. "Look, when you challenge yourselves against the best teams, you have to accept that this is the way it's going to be sometimes."

But perhaps the most concise after-match comments were from US goalkeeper Tim Howard, who simply said, "We got our butts kicked," Howard said, adding, with a smile: "If we win the Gold Cup in a couple of weeks, nobody will remember this."

Indeed.  Next up for the US National Team is the CONCACAF Gold Cup.  Lets hope our first team shows up for that tournament, and not the lineup that was so thoroughly routed yesterday.