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Team USA exits quietly
<a href="http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1207068,00.html" source="Time">The U.S. Bows Out With Honor</a> highlights the last match in the 2006 World Cup for the United States, including the critical defensive error by Claudio Reyna that led to the first goal for Ghana and the questionable penalty call in the 3rd minute of extra time in the first half. Questionable? No...that's not it. Ridiculous? That's more like it. Bruce Arena has this to say about it: <bq>I think we'd all agree it wasn't a good call to have that in the 47th minute, after our team worked so hard to get back in the game...To be positioned to have to chase the game on that call is kind of remarkable in a game at this level.</bq> <img attachment="290316-1207321-151-113.jpg" align="right" class="frame" caption="Hulk Get Angry">That is exceedingly civil---especially from Bruce Arena, who is not known for pulling punches when talking to the press. All of the replays showed both of Onyewu's arms (US defender)---and they weren't touching Pimpong, the Ghanan forward. Pimpong went for the header and missed, then fell down. If there was any contact, it was incidental and done with the body. It's not a penalty kick, it's probably not even a penalty and <i>it's certainly not a penalty kick in the last minute of extra time in a tied game that decides who advances in the group when one team just tied the score not four minutes before</i>. Once again, a referee is playing God. Ranting aside, the US needed to win this game in order to advance and the way they played in the second half wasn't going to land them a single goal, so it doesn't really matter that they needed two. As Arena said, it doubtless had an effect on their morale, but their morale has nothing to do with their aim. They approached the Ghanan net several times, but put almost nothing on target---outside of a McBride header that almost snuck in off a post. Most of their kicks soared over the crossbar, indicating that the MSL should probably standardize their goals to be the same size as those used in international competition so that the Americans have a fighting chance next time. Their passing and trapping game leaves a lot to be desired as well, especially when compared to the tight, crisp passing of nations like Argentina, Holland or Brazil. It's not that they need to make the hundreds and hundreds of passes<fn> favored by South American teams, but they need to drop the ball to their feet much faster in order to be able to do something with it. There is altogether too much time wasted in trapping on the third bounce and chasing bad passes. <hr> <ft>Brazil made a nearly unbelievable 473 short passes in their game against Japan tonight.</ft> <h>Ronaldo</h> <img attachment="288210-1181791-317-238.jpg" align="left" class="frame" caption="I'm Bulking Up!">On a completely different note, it was really nice to see Ronaldo return to form tonight against Japan. <a href="http://www.eurosport.com/football/worldcup/2006/sport_sto911297.shtml">Ronaldo still has what it takes</a> gives more details on his attempt to surpass Gerd Müller's record of 14 World Cup goals. Ronaldo had 12 coming into this tournament (4 in '98 and 8 in '02) and just put up 2 more against Japan. One more and he's got the lead. It's nice to see the 183cm/90kg striker prove all of his critics wrong when they say he's too chubby to get the job done. He still manages to be effective, running with the best of them for 90 minutes (usually). Good for him.