Friday Football: Olympic Qualifying and More

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.”

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About Nick Green

South Bay-based Los Angeles News Group soccer columnist and blogger Nick Green writes at the 100 Percent Soccer blog at and craft beer at the Beer Goggles blog at Cheers!
  • dan

    Nick: Question unrelated to what you wrote. Do you have any thoughts on the MLS allowing eight (overseas players) per team and its affect on the developing American futbol player?

    Nick replies: MLS changed the rules this season in part because league official said they wanted to ensure the quality of play didn’t drop while expansion is on-going.

    I buy that argument for now.

    But one thing that has reduced my enjoyment of the EPL are the likes of Arsenal playing without a single Englishman on the field on some occasions and I hope MLS never allows a similar number of foreigners on the field for a team at one time. It’s certainly hurting the development of English players.

    I rarely agree with anything FIFA Preisdent Sepp Blatter says, but he said late last year he favors restricting teams to no more than five foreigners on the field for a team at any one time and I’m with him on that one in the long-term.

    For now, I don’t think what is likely a temporary rule change will hurt the development of U.S. players. More important is a better MLS for fans and player development.