Overall, an improved performance from the Oceania Cup final, but nothing major to get excited about. Australia were undoubtedly the better team on the day, but it was a scrappy match, and the disgraceful condition of the pitch put a damper of what could have been a much more entertaining match.
Damian Mori and Mark Viduka were the busiest players of the first half. Most of the attacking was done on the right hand side of the pitch, through Wehrman/Emerton(quiet day by his standards)/Neill, and this was mainly due to the long strip of mud along the left hand side. The best chance of the half fell for Viduka, whose lousy first touch spoilt an opportunity for a 1 on 1 situation against US keeper Zach Thornton as the ball rolled through to Zach. Mori created the chance bringing the ball up from the halfway line and holding off his opponents until he released Viduka on the edge of the box. Viduka returned the favour late in the half, but Mori's first time shot, was blasted high and wide.
Simon Colosimo was played way out of position by Raul Blanco as a left winger. And obviously the mud didn't help Simon's cause. Lucas Neill of Milwall played a couple of intelligent through-balls, but really couldn't hold off for any time after that. In stark contrast to Mark Viduka, who looked so cool with the ball at his feet and positioning his body to shut out his opponents from the ball. Viduka also bent one nice freekick from long range, but a late momentum of curl, took the ball just wide of the post.
Mike, the referee, gave all a scare when he produced a red card for Josip Skoko in the 19th minute, only to put it back in his pocket and pull out the yellow. The USA had a handful of corners, and a couple of free headers, but never really looked like scoring. Aussie goalie Jason Petkovic, not needing to break a sweat.
Foxe played a tough game, and Popovic was quick to clear danger at the back, and impressed me particularly with this attribute, as Australia has been desperately requiring a quick-thinking central defender for many years now. Well, since Durakovic stepped down from international duty. Which is what Alex Tobin is overdue for. The only touch I could remember from Alex was in the 3rd minute, when his backpass header had no power on it whatsoever, and he setup the USA's best chance of scoring for the entire game. I have no idea why Blanco continues to select Tobin, perhaps it was his testimonial (I wish!)...
The second half continued where the first left off. The only danger came from Celtic bound Mark Viduka. In the 72nd, he received a panic kick to the chest when he was controlling the ball down inside the area. Mike Siefert waved play on, but eventually awarded Viduka an indirect freekick on the edge of the goalie box, after a dubious backpass. Viduka took the kick, but could only blast directly into the wall standing on the goalline, and the opportunity had gone.
Simon Colosimo was raped by a mad tackle from Carlos Llamosa in the 90th minute. Carlos' two legged challenge got himself all of Simon's right leg and knee, and a red card to go on top. Raphael Bove came on as the Colosimo went off on the stretcher.
Still no major tactical breakthrough from Raul Blanco as national coach, and has about 8 more months to display any fresh ideas. We have waited 2 months so far.