Wednesday, June 28, 2006
DC United sweeps the season series from 2nd Place Kansas City. Their unbeaten streak continues to an amazing ten games. United also matches their season high three game winning streak which they have done three times now. DC United is now fifteen points clear of the rest of the Eastern Conference and eight points clear of FC Dallas in the full table.
Adu tallies his first goal and fifth assist. Gomez also scores.
No grades this week as I didn't see the game. I went old school and listened to the entire game on the radio. Tony L was not happy with the penalty awarded to Kansas City.
Isn't winning fun?
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
- Nice timing to come out strong after the lightning delay
- Excellent cross by Gros and finish by Jaime on the game's lone goal
- Great game by Perkins and the defense
- Yet another one goal game
- DC United seemed to sit back and coast after getting the first goal
Forwards (Moreno, Adu) B-
Finished the best chance of the night. Not very effective throughout the game.
Midfielders (Gros, Carroll the Elder, Gomez, Simms, McTavish) B
A better effort this game. McTavish nearly gets a goal from distance with a beautiful, bending strike.
Defense (Erpen, Boswell, Namoff, Perkins) A
Well organized and consistent. Another excellent game.
Subs (Wilson, Quranta, Moose) B
We have a Sanitno sighting and a Moose sighting in the same game. Both played well, considering they were only in to run out the clock with fresh legs. Good to see them both on the field. Wilson was a timely sub to maintain the defense late in the game.
Overheard in my basement:
The sounds of partying as I had family in from out of town. Fun to watch Tony L do the TV instead of radio.
Saturday, June 24, 2006
Good luck for United to get the Wizards just before the reinforcements return from Germany. Sloppy conditions are expected tonight. I'm looking for a low scoring affair. Eskandarian regains his touch with a rocket volley from Gomez.
DC United 1:1 Kansas City Wizards
Friday, June 23, 2006
As I continue forward after the untimely loss of the USMNT (RIP - 2002-2006), I will do what they would have wanted me to do, make terrible predictions which have a 100% chance of being mostly wrong. I'll even be specific as to the score to guarantee I will be so off base, it will be comical.
I will consider getting 2 scores correct a victory. How's that for setting the bar just above sea level?
Second Round: (Updates)
Germany 2:1 Sweden (Correct winner, 2:0)
Argentina 4:1 Mexico (Correct winner, 2:1)
England 2:1 Ecuador (Correct winner, 1:0)
Portugal 1:3 Netherlands (All Wrong, 1:0)
Italy 1:0 Australia (ALL CORRECT!!!)
Switzerland 1:1 Ukraine (Correct winner, correct in PKs, 0:0 PKs 3:0)
(PKs Switzerland 2:3 Ukraine)
Brasil 4:0 Ghana (Correct winner, 3:0)
Spain 3:0 France (All Wrong 1:2)
6-2 with one correct score (Updates)
Germany 1:2 Argentina (All wrong)
Italy 2:2 Ukraine (PKs Italy 4:5 Italy) (Right team, Wrong score)
England 1:1 Netherlands (PKs England 3:1 Netherlands) (All Wrong)
Brasil 3:2 Spain (All Wrong)
1-3 with no correct scores
Argentina 2:0 Italy
Brasil 3:1 England
Brasil 2:1 Argentina in Overtime
Thursday, June 22, 2006
I have a few points I need to make and a few complaints to lodge after the USMNT was bounced from Germany.
Arena takes the lion's share of the blame for the general lack of offense. The last major mistake he made in my book was the last USA-Mexico game at Atzeca. It was Onyewu's first big game and he trotted out a 4-5-1 formation. McBride alone at the top and it seemed like they were playing for the tie. What happened? USA goes down 2-0 and it's game over. Then they switch up, add a forward and score a goal. That goal placed them first in CONCACAF as USA won the tiebreaker because of it. The USA is too talented to go out in a defensive 4-5-1 formation. If USA only has one striker that Arena trusts to put on the field, fine. Let's all admit here and now that Donovan is not a forward. Period. Play a 4-1-2-2-1 with the attacking midfielders way forward. But the time is over when we absorb the other team's attack and try to counter. All three games Arena started with one striker. Maybe once you could defend. But today against Ghana we needed goals. Boatloads of goals. And they took it to us. Again. And if the USA has only produced one striker in the last decade, that's on Arena, too. Why bring four strikers if you didn't plan to use more than one. Wouldn't Twellmann have been a nice sub off the bench in the spots Ching and Wolf were sitting in?
Additional blame goes to Lewis, Bocanegra, and Keller. Lewis seemed unable to get back and fulfill his defensive duties. The first goal against the Czechs was a direct result of his not being in position and it happened several times against Ghana, though no goals resulted. Bocanegra's boneheaded popup which resulted in the penalty called on Gooch because he had already moved forward and thus was on the wrong side of the player he was called to have fouled. And I'm sorry, but that isn't a penalty. When a player doesn't use his hands, and simply leans into the opposition, you don't award a penalty kick. It's too harsh. Keller should have come off his line on the first goal by Ghana. I have no idea what he was waiting for.
The refereeing has been universally bad with cards flying like they are velcroed to their hands. I shouldn't need to check who is assigned to the game. The guy who was on the field today was inconsistent.
Rule change that needs to be implemented immediately. If play stops because a player is on the ground, that player should be barred from returning to the field for five minutes. They should report to the fourth official who will bring them in like a sub after the five minutes have expired. Enough of this delaying by the team that is ahead. It starts in the 60th minute now.
Thanks to Reyna for a wonderful USMNT career. However, I don't see a worthy successor on the roster not named John O'Brien, and we all know how fragile he is. I don't see how the USA even maintains their current position, nevermind improve between now and South Africa. Who is going to score the goals? Anyone?
According to Adam Kilgore at The Post and Steve Silver at The Times, Lucio Filomeno is on his way back to Argentina after asking out of his contract to pursue a spot on the team he 'idolized' as a child, Nueva Chivago.
Filomeno was never a good fit for DC United. He was not match fit when he arrived last August. Comparisons to Gomez' immediate impact after his similar arrival late in 2004 left Filomeno looking worse. This year he seemed to expect to start and when that didn't happen, he was clearly unhappy. He tallied the 5th goal in a rout for his only score as a member of the team. For someone who was making six figures, it was too much money, too little production. Seems to be the best thing for all parties.
Unfortunately it leaves United a bit shorthanded in the near future. Eskandarian (knee) has been out, Jaime (ankle) went down in Wednesday's game against Chicago, Quaranta (hammy) has yet to make an appearance, Olsen is still in Germany, and draft pick Justin Moose (hammy) still hasn't made his first appearance due to injury. Let's hope Jaime is only out a few games.
Let me get this straight. The USMNT plays the #2 team in the world, a three time World Cup champion, and arguably the #1 team from Africa.
They lose to the Czechs and tie Italy.
If everything goes right tomorrow and they beat Ghana, Italy beats the Czechs, and the beer doesn't run out in Germany they are rewarded with what?
Brasil, you say?
Did I mention that my wife is Brasilian? Can you say counseling?
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Game 14 - DC United 1:0 Chicago Fire
What a nerve-wracking game. From the moment DC United scored, they seemed unable to maintain possession. Very poor games from the forwards and midfielders. Talk about a terrible way to win three points. Almost unwatchable. Is this really the same team that scored eight goals in two games a few weeks ago?
- McTavish got his first significant time of the year and wasn't bad. He started on the right but was switched to the left around the 65th minute and seemed to play much better from there.
- Perkins was strong again in goal. He played the crosses well and seemed to be very comfortable throughout the game. You've got to say that Perkins is the clear #1 at this point.
- Simms puts one in from distance with a spectacular strike.
- Jaime goes down with what looked like an ankle injury. He stayed on the sideline for about 10 minutes after being subbed out before hobbling to the bench. I would say he is doubtful for Saturday's game. Think good thoughts for Eskandarian and his availability against Kansas City.
- Nothing of note from the forwards. Not able to keep much possession and did little to threaten Chicago.
Forwards (Moreno, Adu) C
Adu rings the post again. How unlucky can Freddy get? He was really playing withdrawn forward instead of striker. Jaime was not very effective before being subbed after rolling the ankle.
Midfielders (Gros, Mediate, Simms, Carroll the Elder, Gomez) D
Folded up the tent after Simms' goal. Completely inexcusable after the last two games. Anyone else remember two late goals which resulted in two ties to inferior teams? I do. Gros had a great chance in the box in the first half and waited so long that he was surrounded by defenders and ended up dribbling it out of bounds. Carroll and Simms were unable to start the attack and Gomez was invisible for the last 75 minutes.
Defense (Boswell, Erpen, Namoff, Perkins) A-
The lone bright spot on the night. Perkins was the Player of the Game. Namoff and Boswell were very steady. Erpen had a slow start where he seemed not to get a touch for the first 20 minutes, but he ended up with a solid game including yet another 'Flying Facundo' clearance at the top of the box. My, but doesn't he love to leave both feet and take wild swings at the ball.
Subs (McTavish, Wilson, Walker) C+
McTavish played better as the game went along. Wilson was a good sub since DC United had stopped attacking somewhere around minute 20. Walker was able to waste time during the last five minutes and during injury time.
Overheard in Section M-32:
We were invaded by the enemy! A jersey wearing Fire fan came into our section just before halftime and tried to hang a banner right in front of me. The hell? Not in our house. Not on my watch. And the guy was actually upset when he was denied. Amazing.
As I meantioned earlier, I love me some stats. So, with that in mind, please check out the column to the right. Your other right.
I'm going to keep track of when goals are scored and conceded. Plus there are a few other goal related stats.
Also, I have added a full table list. You know, the way it should be, without that conferences rubbish.
Finally, I have added lists of the two MLS records on which Jamie is currently moving up the ranks: Goals and Assists.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
After two late game equalizers, I decided to look at the season thus far and see if there are any patterns to when DC United allow a goal. Through thirteen games, DC United have three shutouts. They have eight one goal games and two games with two goals. There are no games in which United have allowed more than two goals. In the multiple goal games, the first resulted in both goals during the first half and the in second, both goals were tallied in the second half. No pattern there.
The eight one goal games include four 1-1 ties. In two of those games, the goal came after the 85th minute. The lone loss of the season included the go ahead goal in minute 84.
Not quite sure what to make of it yet, but I am going to keep track of this for a while and see if anything develops. It is still a little weird and distressing that of twelve goals on the season, four have come after minute 83.
DC United are coming back home after two disappointing 1-1 ties on the road to the Revs and the Galaxy. United are on a seven game unbeaten streak, 4 wins and 3 ties. United hasn't lost at home this season and has won three consecutive games at RFK. DC leads the Eastern Conference and all of MLS with 26 points.
Chicago Fire are currently last in the Eastern Conference standings with 11 points. Incredibly, they have played 10 of 11 games this season on the road where they have not done well. Two wins on the season to go with four ties and four losses. Their lone home game resulted in a tie. The silver lining is their new stadium, Toyota Park, opens this Sunday and they will play nine consecutive home games.
I'm looking forward to the spirited crowd we usually get on Wednesdays. All diehards. I'll be in the mezzanine above the WTOP sign in my Benny Olsen jersey.
DC United 2:0 Chicago Fire
As I didn't get to see the game, I feel ill equiped to comment or grade. I listened to Tony's call on the radio of the last 20 minutes and that unfortunately included the equalizer. It sure seems like we give up a lot of late goals. I may have to look into this to see if it is more than a feeling. Love me some stats. Home for the next few. Preview should be up today.
So all the teams have played two games. Some are eliminated from advancing, some have secured a place but not a seed, and many are still trying desperately to stay alive.
Based on watching most of the games here are the favorites so far in alphabetical order:
If you put a gun to my head, I would still pick Brasil, but not as confidently as before the tournament started.
My father-in-law is particularly upset with his Brasil squad. He has started calling Ronaldo 'gorginho' for how fat he has become. He really looks lazy on the field. His days in the starting eleven have to be numbered. They are much more dangerous with Robinho on the field. And Kaka looks great. My wife, born in Brasil, has a theory that the uglier the Brasilian team is, the better they play. Kaka makes her nervous. She thinks he is far too good looking.
Now the US team...
I thought that Italy and the Czech Republic were the better teams on the 12th and the US and Ghana were better on the 17th. If not for the red cards, the group would be all tied up at 3 a piece. It will be interesting to see what Arena does to his lineup since Mastroeni and Pope are unavailable. (Side comment: Mastroeni deserved to be sent off. Go studs up and you are taking a huge chance. Pope's cards were very questionable. I feel bad for him to miss this game.) Arena could go 3-5-2 and put Beasly and Reyna in the midfield with Dempsey, Convey and Donovan. He could go 4-4-2 with Conrad replacing Pope and Johnson up top and Reyna playing defensive midfielder. Or he could get really creative and do what I think makes the most sense. Put an attacking formation out there, 3-5-2 with Olsen replacing Mastroeni. My lineup would be
G - Keller
D - Cherundelo, Onyewu, Boccanegra
M - Olsen, Reyna, Convey, Dempsey, Donovan
F - McBride, Johnson
Subs - Beasley, O'Brien, Wolf
USA 2:1 Ghana
Italy 3:1 Czech Republic
Final Group E Standings
Italy 2-0-1 7 Points
USA 1-1-1 4 Points
Ghana 1-2-0 3 Points
Czechs 1-2-0 3 Points
Thursday, June 15, 2006
- Goal of the Year potential for the spectacular score by Gomez. Wow.
- Everything else
What a turn around by the team. After playing so well for the last 5 games, it all falls apart. Little effort was shown. Only the ineptitude of the opposition allowed DC United to salvage a point in this one.
Forwards (Eskandarian, Moreno) C-
Nothing much to write home about. Very ineffective.
Midfielders (Gomez, Gros, Adu, Simms, Carroll the Elder) C+
Gomez scores the only goal unassisted. Not good a controlling the ball and bringing it forward.
Defense (Boswell, Erpen, Namoff, Perkins) C
No excuse to allow Galaxy's inept offense to score.
Subs (Filomeno, Mediate) D
The team played worse in the second half and Mediate contributed to the play which led to the Galaxy goal.
Overheard in my basement:
Lots of cursing.
Saturday, June 10, 2006
DC United heads to the west coast this weekend to take on the Galaxy. Some interesting facts to think about:
- The Galaxy are 0-5-1 at home
- DC United is 2-1-1 on the road which includes their only loss
- The Galaxy have lost seven straight games
- DC United is unbeaten in their last five (4-0-1)
- Galaxy are missing Landon Donovan
- United are missing Ben Olsen
I just can't find any reason to believe that DC United won't win this game going away.
DC United 3:0 Los Angeles Galaxy
DCenters W (2.0 Points); DC SunDevil W (3:0); Quarter Volley W (2:0)
Congrats to DC SunDevil and Quarter Volley for correctly picking the Game 11 result. No one picked the correct score.
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
I found this nice little tidbit on the NY Times site:
Since the beginning of group play in 1950, teams that have won their first games have advanced to the second round 81.1 percent of the time. Teams that lost their first games advanced only 18.8 percent of the time. Teams that tied advanced to the second round 62.5 percent of the time.
Holy crap! So if the US loses the first game against the Czechs, they have an 18% chance of advancing? I was nervous enough about their chances before I knew that.
On a different note, the English are far too obsessed with broken footed forward, Wayne Rooney.
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
On the RFK wall next to the MLS Cup banners, there hangs another banner which can only be qualified as the DC United Hall of Fame. The DCenters excellent post on Marco Etcheverry reminded me of the fact that John Harkes is the only player on this list. It is a very weird situation to have one member of the group. (Can one person be a group?) As the first captain of DC United, Harkes is deserving of the honor. However, it leads to the obvious question: Who else belongs? One man's opinion...
1996-2003...Regular Season - 34 Goals, 101 Assists...Postseason - 3 Goals, 13 Assists...3 MLS Cups...MLS MVP 1998...MLS Best XI 1996, 1997, 1998, & 1999...MLS Cup MVP 1996...Goal of the Year 1997 & 1999...DC United Record 19 Assists in a Season...The first #10...long time captain...spectacular free kicks...beautiful passes...amazing vision...the best player for DC United's first 8 years.
1996-2002, 2004-Present...Regular Season - 99 Goals, 74 Assists...Postseason - 12 Goals, 9 Assists...4 MLS Cups...MLS Best XI 1997, 1999, 2004, & 2005...MLS Cup MVP 1997...Will end up being DC United's leader in goals, minutes, games played, and many other categories. Robbed of a league MVP in 2004.
1996-2002...Regular Season - 8 Goals, 8 Assists...3 MLS Cups...MLS Best XI 1997 & 1998...Defender of the Year 1997...Unquestioned best defender in DC United's first 8 years.
1998-Present...Regular Season - 20 Goals, 40 Assists...Postseason - 2 Goals, 2 Assists...2 MLS Cups...MLS Cup MVP 1999...Rookie of the Year 1998...Humanitarian of the Year 2003...Heart and soul of the team for a decade...my favorite player (Yes, it counts!)
1996-1998...61-35 (0.635)...2 MLS Cups...3 Finals Appearances...The Gold Standard of MLS Coaches
Raul Diaz Arce
1996-1997, 2000-2001...Regular Season - 44 Goals, 10 Assists...Postseason - 8 Goals, 1 Assist...2 MLS Cups...DC United record 4 Goals in a game (twice)...DC United Record 23 Goals in a season...DC United record 48 Points in a season
1996-2000...Regular Season 6 Goals, 17 Assists...3 MLS Cups...MLS Best XI 1997
2001-2004...Regular Season - 7 Goals, 5 Assists...Postseason - 1 Assist...1 MLS Cup...MLS Best XI 2003 & 2004... I honestly felt that DC United was a goal a game better with him on the field
On the Road
2003-Present...Regular Season - 18 Goals, 7 Assists...Postseason - 4 Goals, 1 Assist...1 MLS Cup...MLS Cup MVP 2004
2004- Present...Regular Season - 18 Goals, 14 Assists...Post Season - 1 Goal...1 MLS Cup...MLS Best XI 2005
So What are we waiting for? Let's get Etcheverry and Bruce Arena on the banner so Harkes can have some company on the list of the best in DC United history. And leave room for Jaime, Nelson, Olsen, and Pope.
Saturday, June 03, 2006
- Jaime scores his 4th goal in the last three games. A terrible defensive play by Parkhurst allowed the ball to cross the line, but Jaime's hot streak continues.
- Adu was very dangerous throughout the game and made several nice crosses and one wicked one-timer which strike the crossbar in the upper left corner with spectacular pace.
- Gros played a complete game yet again and continues to be one of the best players on the field.
- The defense was much improved and kept Tewllman largely invisible throughout the game.
- Kansas City ties RBNY which extends DC United's cushion in the East to 10 points. Wow.
- Dallas loses to Columbus which makes DC United the overall leader in MLS by 3 points in the race for the Supporters Shield.
- Erpen pushed up well and then made terrible decisions. The goal at RBNY must have convinced him he is better at the 30+ yard shots than is reasonable. Many wasted possessions from wild shots from #5.
- Finishing was off tonight across the board. Eskandarian was dangerous, but never really got off a great shot. Moreno finished his breakaway, but also never really tested Reis.
Forwards (Eskandarian, Moreno) B
After a dominating first half, unable to maintain possession in the second half which led to far too many Revolution possessions. Jamie now only two behind Kreis for the all time MLS leadership.
Midfielders (Carroll the Elder, Gomez, Adu, Gross, Simms) B+
Simms had a great cross to Adu which led to his near miss. Gros was the Man of the Match. Gomez and Carroll the Elder held down the middle, but had problems in the second half keeping posession of the ball.
Defense (Erpen, Boswell, Namoff, Perkins) B+
Much improved over last game. Defended the cross well. Only gave up a few good chances.
Subs (Mediate, Filomeno) C
Filomeno was somewhat active but neither did much to remember.
Overheard in section M-32.
Best crowd of the season. No question. Six full sections stood throughout the game in Barra Brava. Well done 12th man. Brought the wife to the game for the first time this year and she was very impressed. She kept saying how much fun it looked like they were having.
You've gotta believe that Eskandarian, Gros, and Carroll the Elder will get good long looks during friendies and tournaments for the USMNT after the World Cup. Good young American talent on display all season at RFK.
Thursday, June 01, 2006
With DC United sporting the #1 Offense, best goal differential, and tied for the best overall point total, a game at home against .500 New England shouldn't pose much of a problem. However, I can't help but think that that guy Twellman is just itching to show Arena what a mistake he made in passing over him for a roster spot for the World Cup in Arena's old house. He makes me nervous. Couple that with the spotty play on the back line and New England will have my full attention and I hope United's as well.
No reason to change the starting lineup which obliterated Columbus on Wednesday. I'm not sure why Adu and Gross switched sides once per half last game, but I certainly prefer Adu on the left. When he is on the right, he cuts everything back to the middle. (Must have something to do with the fact he hasn't discovered he has two feet.) On the left he can cross or cut it back.
Be sure to listen to Tony Limarzi on WMET 1160 AM on the way to they game or while listening at home. I went to high school with him (Go Gonzaga!) and he does a great job as the English voice of DC United. His pregame show starts 30 minutes before kickoff.
DC United 2:2 New England Revolution
Other game predictions:
During the United-Crew game last night, discussion naturally wandered to the World Cup and the US roster. Back in December, I drew up my ideal lineup which looked like this:
D- Onyewu, Pope, Lewis, Cherundelo
M- Beasley, Reyna, Donovan, O'Brien
F- McBride, Johnson
After all the games between March 1 and now, it seems a few changes are in order. DC United alum Bobby Convey is pushing for a spot in the starting lineup, Beasley is a bit off his game, and Johnson is in a terrible slump. So, with all that in mind, here is one man's opinion on who should start, who the top subs are, and who I pray never sees the field.
G - Keller
D - Onyewu, Pope, Lewis, Cherundelo
M- Convey, Reyna, O'Brien, Beasley
F- McBride, Donovan
This lineup would have Reyna playing the holding midfielder position and Donovan playing withdrawn forward. Cherundelo and Lewis would be pushing up the wings and Beasley and Convey would have significant defensive responsibilities to cover for their runs.
Johnson, Dempsey, Mastroeni, Wolf, Olsen
Johnson would sub late in games to try for an equalizer. Dempsey, Wolf, and Mastroeni for posession, and Olsen for an injury to Reyna or O'Brien. None of the defenders should see the field unless someone is injured.
Who should go uncapped:
Albright, Bocanegra, Ching, Howard, Hahnemann, Berhalter
Group E Prediction:
1. Italy 7
2. USA 5
3. Czech 2
4. Ghana 1
Which would mean the Italy-Czech game would have meaning for Italy as they would need to win to avoid Brazil in Round 2.
Predictions for all groups in a few days.
- Eskandarian scares the bejezus out of the Crew defense and draws a trifecta out of it, a penalty kick, a goal, and an own goal (via his head, no less). Not a bad night for the man who missed most of a full year.
- Jaime scores #100 and closes the gap between him and Kreis to 3. Is it just me or is this a better watch than that guy with the big head in San Francisco who was chasing a dead guy? Both Jaime and Kreis are still playing. Should make for a fun chase this season.
- Adu, Gomez, and Gross were great distributing the ball. Even with 5 goals, there were a few more left on the field which should have been converted.
- Lively Wednesday night crowd. Always nice to see the United supporters arrive in force on a weeknight. Bodes well for close to 20 K for Saturdays game vs. New England.
- Adu needs to be quicker getting his shot off in the box. Once he was unable to pull the trigger with his right foot and never got a shot off and another time he hesitated and was smothered.
- Back post defense was terrible in the first half. Namoff was beat several times, including the lone Crew goal.
- Filomeno's goal celebration was pointless. Why do something which will guarantee yourself a card? Act like you've been there before.
Forwards (Eskandarian, Moreno) A
Two goals, and countless threats. Can't ask for more. Glad to see these two together in the starting lineup as it should have been all last year.
Midfielders (Gross, Adu, Gomez, Simms, Carroll the Elder) A-
Being a huge Olsen nut, I must say they midfielders had their best game without him of the last few seasons. Good possession, great distribution, got back on defense.
Defense (Namoff, Boswell, Erpen) B-
A few tense moments, but the scoreboard shows only 1 goal. May not be the leagues best defense, but definitely above average with room for improvement.
Subs (Filomeno, Mediate, Carroll the Younger) B
Scored a goal and got the stars off the field early.
Overheard in Section M-32:
It was decided that Mexico and Germany have the two easiest groups and Argentina has the hardest. When looking at the rest of the groups, the USA would have gotten a better draw if placed in Groups A (in place of Costa Rica), B (Trinidad and Tobago), D (Iran), F (Japan), and H (Saudi Arabia). We wanted no part of Group C and Group G would be a wash. It may be USA pride talking, but they were clearly the strongest team in Pot 3 and getting beat out for a number 1 seed hurt their chances for advancing significantly. I predicted that Italy, Czech and USA will all get 5 points and the dreaded goal differential will determine who advances. I was subsequently laughed at. Nothing new there.