Just Win Baby. Last night our US Men came from behind to beat a very old, very tired, rather Crap Costa Rica 2-1. It was a Big Win for our Baby Eagles. One that both allows the United States to exhale while papering over the cracks of challenges that will not go away: this remains an inexperienced squad. Kids leading kids. With a raw international manager learning amidst the turbulence of qualifying. We have set sail on this voyage. There is no turning back. And Mexico await.
Listen to Our on-the-final-whistle podcast in which we broke down the entire victory, celebrated the engagement of GFOPs Ryan Lafferty and Laura, and also mourned the passing of Kevin McCarthy. The cycle of life.
Let’s Break It All Down
1. Inside 60 Seconds: A Madness
When a Tifo rises, it is meant to be an awesome statement of intent which gives courage to our own poet warriors, whilst weakening the knees of our enemies, who tremble at the knowledge they will soon know us by the trail of our goals. Our fans spent days and nights lovingly crafting their masterpiece which proclaimed “Our Future is Now,” and imagining how it would look during those 5 seconds it is shown on television. So, to be dunked on before our fans had so much as the chance to lower the thing was humiliating.
Even more humiliating? The style of concession. A chain-reaction of errors across the backline, beginning with Zack Steffen charging out like an American Ederson, and going south from there.
But worst of all was that the goal was another Heart of Darkness self-inflicted wound. By selecting Zack Steffen over Matt Turner in the first place Gregg Berhalter had created a controversy and a narrative thread to pull where there was no need. Zack Steffen is not a regular for his own team. He had played 2 games in 4 months. Matt Turner has been one of the greatest, most consistent National Team revelations of the past 12 months. Stu Holden articulated the overthink so well before kick-off.
I felt for Zack Steffen through the rest of that first half. You could see he was rattled, knocking simple passes out of bounds. This decision heaped pressure on him he did not deserve. A decision that was unfair, in different ways, to both players. We now have another flapping narrative – goalkeeper controversy – going into the next window that we do not need.
2. Baby Eagles showed real Resilience
Just when it felt like we might be tanking for draft picks, our youngest starting line-up ever, with an average age of 22 years, 229 days, showed true courage. Lesser gents would have buckled. Huge credit to Tyler Adams. It was his discipline, intelligence, and ability to cover so much ground which gave Weston McKennie the ability to charge forward at every opportunity, sometimes to good effect, and Musah the freedom to probe and menace in the final third. Tyler Adams is simple yet spectacular. A footballing Toupee that can cover a lotta bald spots.
3. Good. Better. Dest. That Equalizer was a Thing of Beauty
What. A. Goal. 🚀 Left foot with power and movement. A shot that would give even Jeff Bezos Rocket Envy. Even better was the build-up. From the back. Involving 12 passes and the goalkeeper and incorporating a cross-field switch. Ignore the fact that the Costa Rican defending was tragic, and a better side should have pressed the ball upfield, and just enjoy. Guzzle that Kool-Aid.
One more note on Dest: Like Musah and Antonee Robinson, Dest genuinely seems to love playing for the US. I love watching him interact with the fans, revel in the moment, and cause chaos at both ends of the field 😉.
4. Costa Rica were as poor as they were Old
Injuries, Covid, and Father Time beat this team as much as the United States did. Savor this lolloping Bryan Ruiz one-on-one attempt. Tony La Russa moves quicker. Naysayers will note: The US needed to dodge 3 bullets to beat them. If the Chris Richards penalty had been given against the United States… Keylor Navas had stayed on the field… or the Ruiz chance had fallen to a player who could still walk, they might be feeling a lot better about their window than they do this morning.
5. Two Factors Gave the US a Win
The first was Keylor Navas subbing out at halftime. The weight of carrying Costa Rica for years finally proved too much. Would he have made the save off the audacious Weah snapshot? We can only hypothesize. But his absence changed the game. I still don’t understand why the US did not shoot on sight against his replacement Leonel Moreira who seemed proper dodgy.
The second was my American Stars and Stripes wristband. You want Stats? The US have never failed to win when I wear it.
Yes, I only found it in the street last Tuesday. But fear not. It will be on my wrist every game from now on. We got this.
6. Onto The Next. Mexico await
Onto the next window. A two game affair with Mexico at home and Jamaica on the road. Please Lord, let Pulisic and Gio be fit and we can have at it against Mexico. They sit top of the qualifying pile 3 points ahead of the US. The idea of their football looks further along than ours. But rivalries like this have their own logic, emotion and ecosystem. Let’s think positive thoughts. Spread good Vibes. One of the most interesting interviews I heard in this window was with Hector Moreno, who articulated the notion that the media is behind in their analysis of CONCACAF, that the pack has caught up and are playing real football. The USA are feeling it. Mexico are feeling it too. It will be fascinating to watch these two regional giants face up to each other in this new reality.
7. Columbus remains a Citadel of US Football
Thank you Columbus. A new era in your incredible city begins. What a citadel that Schmidt’s Sausage Haus-town is for US football. Though this clip is quite something. “We don’t have any professional sports teams here,” says fan interviewed on-site at Crew’s home stadium.
8. Alphonso Davies is a Cheat Code
I have watched this goal a thousand times and it appears better with every viewing. Canada have been the true joy of the qualifying journey so far. I am so happy for our friends in the North. They deserve this happiness and more.
That is it for today. We will be back tomorrow with WGFOP The Bald. Call in your questions about the United States and the upcoming Premier League schedule at (646-450-9472)
Also, our latest episode of the Band of Brothers Podcast is one of my favorites. Shane Taylor, the man who brought Medic Eugene Roe to life, is a soulful human being. It was a joy to talk to him about his depiction of a man who ran to war armed with a medicine bag instead of a gun and who lived to heal rather than kill. Really poetic, beautiful conversation I believe you will love.
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