It wasn’t a thing of a beauty and a Freddy Adu penalty kick was all that separated the teams in the 1-0 win over Panama Thursday, but Coach Peter Nowak’s revamped line-up showed more initiative in attack and more resilience in defense in the second Olympic qualifier.
Nowak summed up the difference between the Cuba and Panama games:
I think we learned from what happened last Tuesday. Everyone was over anxious. I think we were pushing too much just to score goals. I think today the combinations (were better) and we just played faster and found the right people at the right time. The timing was good. The build-ups were very effective, so its not only the patience. You can be patient, but still develop your game in the right moment at the right speed.
The U.S. must merely avoid losing Saturday against Honduras to advance to the semifinals.
Honduras, by the way, beat 10-man (yes, you read that right) Cuba.
In Carson tonight, it’s Canada vs. Haiti (at 5:30 p.m.) and Mexico vs. Guatemala (at 8 p.m.).
The Galaxy plays in Dallas Saturday with English scouts watching David Beckham and Chivas USA plays San Diego State University at 10 a.m. at Home Depot Center before heading to Fresno Sunday to play the Fuego.
The 5:30 p.m. Galaxy game will be shown on the team’s Web site, incidentally.
Also, from noon to 4 p.m. in Carson Saturday, it’s ChivaFest.
Finally, the dumb quote of the week award goes to noted ESPN soccer-hater Jim Rome, who oblivious to the sell-out crowds, Beckham jersey sales and general Beckhamania, declares his signing a bust:
“Soccer may be the world sport, but here it ranks right behind darts and just ahead of foosball. It doesn’t matter now and it never will. The fact the greatest footballer of them all came here and didn’t move the needle at all proves that once again.”