Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

U.S. No Longer in Position to Settle

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

U.S. No Longer in Position to Settle

Article excerpt

Byline: Matt Soergel and Nick Marino, Times-Union staff writers

The U.S. soccer team needs only a tie against Poland tomorrow to advance in the World Cup, but expect more against a Polish team that has appeared unimaginative and slow in allowing six goals and scoring nil in two matches.

Expectations show just how far the U.S. team, a talented bunch that has proven it can actually score goals, has come.

If you're just tuning in to the fuss over the U.S. team, there's no better time. Unlike the 2:30 and 5 a.m. starts so far, tomorrow's game kicks off at a more civilized time: 7:25 a.m.

(Soccer fans craving the company of other soccer fans should know that the Mudville Grille in St. Nicholas, for one, is serving breakfast tomorrow starting at 7, with the game to follow on big-screens there.)

The Americans need only a tie to advance but must play to win. Going into a defensive shell -- as they did far too early against the relentless South Koreans -- could be a major tactical error.

One nightmare scenario for the U.S.: It loses 1-0 and South Korea loses 3-1 to Portugal. Those two teams would then have identical records and goal differential (goals scored vs. goals allowed). Who advances? It would be up to a coin toss.

Watch for goalie Brad Friedel, who performed heroics in the tough tie with South Korea; and DaMarcus Beasley and Landon Donovan, two fast 20-year-olds who have proven they are the real thing -- and who should frolic through a slow Polish defense.

Look for mohawked Georgian Clint Mathis -- his goal against South Korea was a perfect example of finishing (though coach Bruce Arena could have subbed him in the second half for a harder-working player; moving Donovan up to forward and putting old favorite Cobi Jones, perhaps, in at midfield).

But what about defender Jeff Agoos, whose Cup has been a disaster? …

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