Its all over for a well intended USA team that couldn't make it against a very easily beatable Ghanain squad at the FrankenStadion in Nuremberg yesterday.
They may claim that German dentist Marcus Merk, the FIFA referee doing his second match of the tournament, made a 'howler' and awarded a penalty, but the team just wasn't good enough. Apart from a world class goalie in Kasey Keller, there were only average players on the bench and on the field. I thought that Demarcus Beasley and Brian McBride were sometimes dangerous, but some, such as Landon Donavon were poor, and although the US press has been pushing Eddie Johnson I call him Papillon, the butterfly, 'cos he only lives for a few brief moments each match.
We had great seats on the first row, but since that was 20 foot up it was perfect viewing, 10 feet from the players tunnel. I am pleased for Ghana and their extravigently robed fans, but they are not really good enough to stay in the tournament and don't expect any mercy from Brazil.
US Soccer spends far too much money pampering players-and their families. Unlike 1990 they are paid real money these days and can afford to fly their family over. Free tickets and reception for families-great, but cash can be spent more wisely. Staying in a 5 star hotel in central Hamburg is not my idea of ideal preparation. A sportschool with hard beds would get them more in the competitive mood.
I have never seen US Soccer President SUNIL GULATI more elegant with a very expensive coifure. He is a very good president with loads of experience and will have to make hard coaching decisions soon. Unlike American CONCACAF President Chuck Blazer, who has never had a coiffure, and always looks as if he has been dragged through a hedge backwards!
Old town Nuremberg was humming with both sets of fans before the match. In 1990 in Italy there were maybe 1,000 USA fans. This week more than 10,000 although most didn't have tickets.
By the way, far too many US Soccer tickets and those of FIFA find their way into the hands of corporate fans who where there in force yesterday, smoking their heads off and only a little interested. as part of their ' summer experience' circuit,- Formula 1, Wimbledon, Royal Ascot etc.
Why not give AVAYA and other sponsors guests a fashion show for the ladies and visits to the many porno clubs for the guys, and save the tickets for real fans. Also, with a stadium limited to 41,000 seats make the FIFA wives/mistresses sit on their guys' laps.!!
The Franken stadium is next door to ZeppelinFeld, built by the National Socialists for the infamous Nuremberg Rallies. The main tribune, where Hitler got his jollies is still standing with lots of fans having a pre match picnic.
In 2006 with South Africa the host the stadiums will average over 60,000 since they are already built for mainly Rugby Union.
Today I took a bus load to Salzburg and am writing from an internet cafe in the main square called-you guessed it-Mozart Platz, and looking out the window on the towering Salzburg Fortress straight above me on the hill.
The main pedestrian street in old town has historic metal and wood signs over each shop,showing what they sell, since most Austrians coudn't read. Even McDonalds has to conform. There are Mozart fragrances, Mozart chocolates, Mozart liquors, Mozart souvenirs of all kind, and the popular T shirt 'There are no kangaroos in Austria' for less worldly American tourists.
I think all the kangaroos in the local zoo committed suicide by swallowing their 20 foot long tongues after hearing too much piped in Mozart music! Just outside the city is the new Red Bull Stadium, about 3/4 complete. It is home to Red Bull, Salzburg, who bought a bankrupt team 2 seasons ago and changed the name and team colors. It will host the 2008 EUFA championships with 16 European teams-4 sites in Austria and 4 in Switzerland, and HOPEFULLY Champions League soccer if the team improves with the new money.
Well Next big match experience for me is Nuremberg again on Sunday, for Netherlands vs Portugal.