Coldfire, I’d gladly pay a lot to see the Oranje playing against Argentina, unless the game were played in Argentina, where one simply remembers 1978.
Games like that are rare, two teams primed to play for the fun of it, with plenty of imagination on the pitch. Unfortunatly, the games I saw in person in '94 were not of that quality, but the Brazil v Netherlands game of the quarterfinals was quite as good, especially considering they were playing to go on. As I noted, you won’t find too many US national team games that fit the definition of exciting matches, but maybe someday…
Speaking of which, and back on the thread, the Mexicans got hoist by their own petard. I don’t think the cold really bothered them; witness their total domination of the game from the 70th minute to the 80th minute, when they actually decided to play some creative soccer. They DID seem to come in seeking the draw, however, with a 5-3-2 offense designed to counter-attack and hopefully to deny us any goals. Current Mexican press coverage is highly critical of the national team for failing to play winning soccer, an attitude I second because I always believe that it is better to lose having tried to win, than it is to attempt the draw from the first whistle. Of course, from Mexico’s standpoint, one can’t blame them; if they get a draw in Columbus and a draw or win at Azteca Stadium on July 1, they can coast the rest of the games and be quite assured of qualifying (you REALLY think they fear the mighty Honduras? ).
The really encouraging sign last night was the ability of the US to handle the pressure from the Mexicans reasonably well. Eddie Pope is back ‘on’ again, and David Regis didn’t disgrace himself as he often does. When one considers that our main playmaker was hobbled or gone most of the game, it is pretty amazing we had as much control as we did. We should, however, note that, as usual, the US doesn’t play to intercept passes in passing lanes, opting instead for physical challenges after the opponent has received the ball at his feet. Trying that against Argentina or Brazil or France will get us our clocks cleaned quickly.
As for 2002, the main interest is in which continent will produce the winner. As we know, rarely is a winner produced from outside the continent/hemisphere in which the finals are played (Brazil in 58 the only exception if I recall correctly). Never having been played in Asia, and with it highly unlikely that an Asian team can win, will Africa finally step up to the plate and produce a breakthrough result?