Monday, June 25, 2007

Some Thoughts

Let’s begin with Mr. Henry. I’ve been preparing myself mentally for this to happen for some time, but now that it has, I’m sadder than I anticipated. I realize that the move might be better for the club, and that the cash in the coffers can be used to fund more pieces of what will be the next generation of The Arsenal. And perhaps Henry was holding some of the kids back with his massive presence. That said, a player who at times was the best in the world has just departed for Barcelona and his ballet-like style and panache will no longer grace the red shirt. And that stings. I look forward to watching his Catalonian career proceed.

The other main piece of news at the weekend was of course the Yanks' defeat of Mexico in the Gold Cup Final yesterday. This was a match that had it all, and generated a great tension the size of Hugo Sanchez’s man boobs. I was certain that Mexico would score and win after Ching hit the post, and even more certain when Beasley managed to miss the sitter of all sitters. It wasn’t to be, however, and we held on to win. And you know what? We came from behind to do it. I never thought I’d see the day. The U.S. team gave up a goal just before the half and instead of falling apart and getting embarrassed (the Ching and Beasley misses aside), the lads forced the issue with attacking play and got a deserved victory. Jeff Carlisle said as much in his piece, but my neighbor Pedro still responded to my post-game taunts by saying that Mexico remains the better team. Now Pedro and I are pals. He moved to Chicago a long time ago from a small town outside of Morelia. And he still supports El Tri. And he pissed me off with that response. Because it’s no longer true. The U.S. team is better than the Mexico team. We may not be as skilled or as pretty to watch, but we’re better. End of story. Perhaps Pedro was just pissed because I was dancing around my yard singing, “No Se Puede! No Se Puede!!”

But wait, it wasn’t the end of the story because as always, the Mexicans showed their true colors at the end of the match by complaining to the ref. Sanchez (who had been all over the fourth official and the linesman the entire match) and his chicos surrounded the ref complaining about God knows what. True class. I’ll enjoy it when he’s fired.

Next up for the U.S. team? Just a meeting with an Argentine squad that looks stronger than the one they took to Germany last year. Thursday will be interesting. -Sanford


The Beautiful Game said...

not all the Mexicans were classless. Carlos Salcido, for one, shook hands afterwards

the others, however, ugh

The Editor said...

True, true...

Bobbie BS said...

Mexico first:
I think it's debatable whether the US is any better. Mexico clearly have more talent then we do but we continually defeat them through better team play and organization. It's also worth pointing out that we only beat Mexico when we're playing here; obviously through either inspiration or fear that their game goes up a notch when we play them at the Azteca and it's always enough for a result. It's also worth mentioning that we play probably 5 games in the US for every game we play in Mexico and this obviously skews the results. Mexico out-performed us at the last World Cup and obviously WC results are more meaningful (and indicative of team quality) than anything that happens in the Gold Cup. Until we play again in a WC qualifier it's pointless to measure and until we can get a win in a qualifier played at the Azteca we cannot claim to be a clearly better team.

I felt a lot worse about this last spring after the CL loss than I do now. For the most part I think that with the loss of Dennis Bergkamp that Wenger has changed the system the team plays in a way that doesn't necessarily suit Henry's style. The old system was based on quick balls out of the back played wide and left to Henry, allowing him to use his pace and technique to put the defense under pressure in a hurry, creating chances for himself and his team mates. Beginning with the CL run last year the team played with one striker and relied on the wide players to make the chances. Henry is not much of a target forward, he's best in a dynamic role and the new system didn't seem to work as well for him this season as it did for Adebayor and Van Persie (when healthy). I think he'll find it tough at Barca; they play 2 wide forwards (Ronadlinho and Messi or Guily) and already have a dynamic attacking forward in Eto'o. Where will Henry play? What starter from the attacking trio will sit to make room for him? I think that Titi won't waste time lodging his complaints with the press. Furthermore there's the often-stated fact that nobody who leaves Wenger ever plays as well as they did while they were with him. I too will miss the magic that his game could conjure and I will always remember the way that he dominated the league. It's sad to say, however, that the freshest memories of Henry are his holding the team hostage over his transfer and making overtures to Barcelona in the month before they met in the CL final last year, and of his insufferable sulking in the season that just ended. I think Arsenal missed the boat, they should have sold him last year for 30 million rather than the cut rate they're getting now. Oh, and I didn't want any grapes anyway, they're sour.

The Editor said...

Bobbie: your points about USA/Mexico are well made but I stick by the fact that this was one of the first matches against them where we had a solid run of the play and maintained possession, dictated pace, etc. That used to never happen.