I had a dream earlier this week that the US scored three goals against Portugal. But in the first 37 minutes? Not even my dream was that good. Of course, waking up for a 2 am Pacific time start made me wonder if I really were awake. Any sleepiness was thrown off quickly, though, when John O’Brien put the US into the lead in the 4th minute. As the US piled on the goals it was obvious I was going to be wide awake for quite some time. This was an incredible accomplishment for the US team.
Donovan and Beasley gave the Portugal defenders fits with their slashing runs on the wing and into the box. It’s amazing to think that those two won’t reach their peak for two more World Cups – 8 years from now! It’s almost guaranteed that Bayer Leverkusen will recall Donovan to Germany at the end of the MLS season. The only question is which team will win the Beaz sweepstakes. I think he could have even more of an impact than Mathis. I would love to see them all back in MLS next year, but they will develop even faster playing in Europe and it will be a great experience for them.
It was sweet to see McBride have such a great game. While so many other players get most of the press, his physical presence in the box and in the air greatly increase our possession in the opponent’s end of the field. This is probably his last Cup and I was glad to see him have a much better experience than in 1998.
No one can really replace Claudio Reyna in midfield, but John O’Brien did as good a job as anyone. His quick reaction and well-placed shot clinched that first goal and he also did a great job of holding the ball in midfield and composing our attacks. Earnie Stewart also was big in midfield during the first half. His corner kick onto McBride’s head made that first goal possible.
Other than the own goal, which fortunately had no serious consequences in this game, Jeff Agoos had a very good outing. Time after time, he kept the defense in form and cleared dangerous balls. Eddie Pope also had an outstanding game in center defense.
Sanneh played defense as well as I have ever seen him play. I was stunned to see him block out and stand up Figo time after time and force him to play the ball back out away from our goal. And his cross to McBride’s head was also a beautifully struck ball.
Hejduk’s passing left a lot to be desired, but his speed and tenaciousness made up for a lot and really kept the Portuguese from creating too many dangerous plays from the right side.
Friedel didn’t have to have an incredible game, as the Portuguese shooting was definitely off. But, he made all the saves that he could possibly make, as he really had no chance on Bento’s shot after O’Brien failed to clear a ball in the box and on Agoos’s unfortunate own goal.