I hate Mexican referees

USA 1-2 England

Kieran Richardson - 4'
Kieran Richardson - 43'
Clint Dempsey - 79'

United States: Kasey Keller -- Greg Vanney, Eddie Pope (Carlos Bocanegra 73), Cory Gibbs, Steve Cherundolo -- Clint Dempsey (Clyde Simms 90), Kerry Zavagnin, Landon Donovan, Brian Rolston -- Brian McBride (Conor Casey 82), Josh Wolff.

Subs not used: Marcus Hannehman, Bobby Convey, Gregg Berhalter, Jonathan Spector

England: David James -- Ashley Cole, Wes Brown, Sol Campbell (Zatiyah Knight 45), Glen Johnson -- Kieron Richardson (Phil Neville 59), Michael Carrick, Joe Cole (Jermaine Defoe 63), Jermaine Jenas -- Andy Johnson (Luke Young 76), Alan Smith

Well, I write this having got off a plane from Chicago several hours ago, and man, and am I fucking tired. But, since I'll forget everything if I don't do this now, I do this now. First off, Chicago is a neat town. It's no New York or anything, but it's nice enough. I flew in, spent the night in the hotel bar with some of the England travelling support (who do not deserve their reputation...they were brilliant) talking shit, and then the game was today. Or yesterday. Fuck's sake, it feels like it was a month ago, actually. So tired.

Right, so we know it was England's B-minus Team, as pretty much everyone in the world pulled out, followed by the late setbacks for Shaun Wright-Phillips and Stewart Downing. However, this was essentially a B-plus Team for the USA, with no DaMarcus Beasley, no Eddie Johnson, no John O'Brien (he's been out forever, but we really miss him all the same). So, while the result wasn't going to do much for either team, it was at least an exercise in seeing how much strength in depth we have, if any.

With the 9 million England fans running around the Windy City, and with it being Memorial Day weekend, it had a kind of carnival atmosphere (except now I've had the "Eng-ger-land, Eng-ger-land, Eng-ger-laaaaaaaand" chant stuck in my head for hours. Bollocks). With great anticipation from all, they kicked off, and we got set for a great game.

Too bad England scored in the fourth fucking minute.

Before I get into that, a word about the referee. This ALWAYS fucking happens to us...we get a referee from Mexico or Central America, and they don't even make a fucking pretense of anything other than the fact that they're going to fuck us for 90 minutes. Seriously, we don't even get dinner and a movie beforehand, and it really irks me that nothing is ever done about it. Now, please do not get me wrong. I'm not saying that as a racist thing or anything else like that. My violent hatred for Mexico is only there for soccer-related things. It's not exactly a secret that they don't like us very much, and I honestly feel that referees from there do whatever they can (within the Laws, to be fair, but that does give more leeway than you think) to assist the other team. It's really cunty and I fucking hate it, but what can you do? That is, other than to say in capital letters, BENITO ARCHUNDIA TELLEZ, YOU ARE A FUCKING CUNT. YOU'RE A SHIT REFEREE, A DISGRACE TO YOUR PROFESSION, AND I HOPE YOU GET FUCKING GONHORREA OF THE FACE, YOU FUCKING TWAT.

There. That feels better.

Anyway, Andy Johnson has picked up for himself somewhat of a reputation of being a diver and a cheat, and he sure did cement that in this game. For a guy his size to be taking pratfalls all over the place is just ludicrous. But, he convinces Premiership referees...not just corrupt Mexican ones, either. Anyway, his lovely dive won England a dangerous free kick. I had a bad feeling about it, even though I thought it odd that Kieron Richardson (making his Eng-ger-land debut) was going to take it. He struck the ball, and within 0.3 seconds, I knew it was going in. Kasey Keller had absolutely no prayer of stopping it -- it really was beautiful free kick, curled over the wall and into the top corner. The England fans went suitably batshit, and really started having fun afterwards. It didn't help that we responded by playing like complete shit for the next 10 or 15 minutes. The English then started singing "Are you Scotland in disguise?" at us, which is just mean. Some of it had to do with our odd new dark-blue kits, of course, but it was mainly because we weren't putting up much of a fight. It should be mentioned though that Alan Smith tried to eviscerate Clint Dempsey's legs (from behind no less), and that corrupt fuckstick in yellow didn't even call a foul, let alone send him the fuck off. Just saying. A few minutes later, England were a little unfortunate to not be 2-0 up. Joe Cole sent a high shot screaming towards the corner, but Keller did exceptionally well to get across and get two strong hands on it. Just a great, great save that maybe prevented this from becoming a rout.

That said, we started to string some passes together finally, and generally pulled ourselves back into it. Before the game, I mentioned to my roommate that David James' nickname was Calamity. Man, did he ever live up to that...he was just awful. The US won a free kick in what didn't seem all that dangerous of an area. Landon Donovan's shot was a beauty though, wickedly curling in on goal. James was caught completely off-guard, flapped wildly at it, and missed completely. Unfortunately, it hit the post and went out. Fuck. If that went in, it's a whole different game at 1-1. That said, I'm reading the Soccernet live commentary to jar my memory (it's 2:11 AM, I'm tired), and we really did have a better first half than I thought we did. Kerry Zavagnin blazed a long shot juuuuuust over the crossbar, and Donovan had a shot go wide of the post that he probably should have done better with. For the other mob's part, Alan Smith probably should have scored (it was like an inverse instant replay of Donovan's miss) as well. Josh Wolff had a few bright moments, but he so often gave the ball away, or failed to produce a good cross, or sent his shot in the 40th row...it's maddening, because he does have a degree of skill. He's just not consistent enough to be worth it at the international level.

Late on in the half, Calamity James was caught flapping again, this time at a cross, but unfortunately the US couldn't capitalize. Even more unfortunately, England didn't fail when the next chance came their way. Eddie Pope today was, to use an English turn of phrase, absolute fucking gash. Seriously, I'm a fan of the guy, I appreciate everything he's done for the US National Team, but you just can't defend well when you have a giant fork sticking out of your back. The dude is just done as an international-level center-half. Anyway, his error allowed Joe Cole in to the penalty area. He probably could have scored himself if he wanted to, but he opted for the sure thing, that being the wide-open Richardson. Keller had no chance as the young Manshit United player cooly side-footed home.

Well, fuck. Twice.

At that point, I thought we were going to get killed. Despite creating some decent chances and the decent play of Gibbs and the two wingbacks, I just thought that England were going to build off that momentum, and then hit us on the break once or twice as we threw people forward. For most of the second half, we did throw lots of people forward...but, it ended up being to great effect as the second 45 belonged entirely to the guys who all of a sudden didn't look like fucking Scotland in fucking disguise. Whatever Bruce Arena said at the interval worked.

Much like the first half, the second started brightly as well. Greg Vanney didn't miss by much on a volley attempt, but Joe Cole missed by rather more up the other end. Brian McBride caused a few problems, but Zat Knight (in for Sol Campbell) was equal to the task. Actually, he had a pretty damn good game back there for England, and maybe deserves a longer look against Colombia. Later on, Wolff missed another 75 clear chances, while Cole sent an effort up into orbit. England created a better chance with Jenas setting up Johnson, but the striker was at a tough angle. The best he could do was go for the short side and hope to catch Keller leaning the other way, but Kasey ended up saving it pretty easily. They had a few more half-chances, but the end of that came when the astoudingly-awful Pope came off for Bocanegra, who should have been out on the pitch in the first fucking place.

I said to my roommate at around that point that if things kept going the way they were, we had to score sometime. And, sure enough, we pulled one back thanks to some unlikely sources. Donovan sent a free kick into the area, and Bocanegra did exceptionally-well to get on the end of it with a sort of flying kung-fu Jet Li toe-poke. James was positioned well, and I should qualify my earlier statement about him by saying that he's a fantastic athlete, and a fine shot-stopper (my theory is that his problems are more mental than anything else). Anyway, James saved with his legs, but Clint Dempsey was there to tuck home the rebound. It not only gave us something to finally cheer about, but it also seemed to liven up the team as well as the crowd. England didn't see much of the ball after that, and even the England funs finally shut the fuck up for 3 seconds. :)

Unfortunately, we didn't really seriously threaten the England goal again. Some of that may have to do with the head-scratching substitution of Conor Casey for McBride. Maybe McBride was just exhausted, but still, there has to be a better option than Casey (who is gash and shit at the same time). With Wolff and Casey up top, we just weren't scoring.

So, 2-1 to England, but I think the result is more than a bit harsh, especially factoring in the domination of the entire second half by our boys. Still, if we win our next two games (against Costa Rica and Panama in qualifiers), then I'll take losing a B-friendly to England.

Sleep. Now.


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