Looks like their Cup runs over... again....
OK I admit it... for three decades, I have had a strange sports affectino. I have been a long-time fan of the U-S Men's National soccer team. I started with them in the mid-1980's...before they made the first of so far six straight World Cup appearances in 1990. This was when American soccer was starting its turnaround from third-rate (at best) soccer nation, to a perennial World Cup contender, if not perennial favorite.
Last night, the MNT-- or Men's National Team-- defated Panama 2-0 to go top of its six-team qualifying group... or the Hexagaonal. The U-S is 3-1-1, with 10 points-- 2 up on a Costa Rica team they beat at home in the "Snow Bowl" in Denver. They are also 3 up on Mexico, with one game in hand against "El Tri." Next up... a trip to Salt Lake City to face Honduras. The Americans lost the "Hex" opener to the Hondurans in Tegucigalpa, on a day considered a national holiday. The atmosphere was too good for Honduras not to win... now it's the Americans' turn to welcome the Hondurans to a game at Salt Lake City's altitude.
Experts say the Americans have a 98 percent chance now to qualify for the World Cup. I am not sold on their imminent qualification....yet. Did they look good against Panama? Yes, undoubtedly. Goalkeeper Tim Howard had to make one good save late, but that was it. The U-S had 2 goals...and it could have been four. A Michael Bradley shot ticketed for the corner hit Clint Dempsey and deflected away, and a DaMarcus Beasley shot-- that would be Fort Wayne, Indiana's DaMarcus Beasley, by the way-- struck squarely against the post. The U-S dominated the game-- but at times, I still thought the American offense lacked direction, and at times, precise passing. To be fair, at others, they were wonderful-- and that Eddie Johnson goal from a pass by Geoff Cameron was stellar.
The U-S is 21-0-2 in games at home since 2001. As I said, next up is Honduras at Salt Lake City. They also have Mexico and Jamaica at home, and Costa Rica and Panama on the road. The experts say the Americans are almost shoo-ins for the World Cup-- but a win this coming Tuesday would ease some of my nerves.
That's my take...I'm Tom Lee.