Thursday, June 09, 2005

The sleeper has awakened

The US victory of Panama last night might seem, at a glance, of little consequence. Sure, it moves them one step closer to Germany (a very large step, perhaps). Who among the casual soccer fans in Amercia (all 15 of them) doesn't expect the team to be in Germany? Qualifying is likely assumed.

The US won 3-0 on the road last night. Playing on the road anywhere, with a couple of exceptions (Andorra perhaps), is difficult. Teams are often happy to tie and come away with a point. So a win, and what appears to be a convincing one, is all the more impressive. Even against lowly Panama, who has not faired well in qualifying thus far. They had not lost at home, though, and that's something.

There is a ways to go yet, and the US isn't done improving as a squad (witness the awe of England in a recent friendly, and some struggles in the previous round of qualifying). Many people who will probably play key roles in Germany aren't healthy right now (Eddie Johnson, John O'Brien, to name two). Still, the US is starting to play some pretty good soccer. It's hard not to get excited.

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