Santander

The good news – 45 minutes of good football against one of the best teams in Europe.

The bad news – 45 minutes of unwatchable garbage against one of the best teams in Europe.

The US started brightly against Spain. It’s a sign of how low my standards have fallen that five consecutive passes fills me with joy. Freddy Adu was fantastic. He held the ball up well, distributed out of the center, made strong cutting runs, and at one point danced through the penalty area delivering two successive daisy cutters to Clint Dempsey.

Clint blew both of them.

Spain had several good chances as well, but as the first half came to a close I would have put Spain on top, but if there had been a goal for either side, it would have been deserved.

Adu came out in the second half, and the US performance went steadily downhill. Beasely looked lost, Dempsey remained awful, playing like his boots were filled with lead. Crisp passing went out, head tennis came in.

Michael Bradley allowed a backpass from Johnson to bounce fully six feet off his shins straight to Fabregas. Then, too tired to pursue the crafty Catalan, he grasped him around the shoulders and pulled him to the ground. It was not only cynical, it was nauseating. He was clearly out of gas, and yet he remained on the pitch for the full 90. Why?

The collapse of shape and purpose in the US team was evident in every facet of the game. Bradley and Edu stopped dropping back deep to pick the ball up for defenders, who instead played longer and longer balls to Johnson, Beasley and Dempsey, who seemed to be competing with each other to give the ball back fastest.

In some ways fatigue is always going to be a concern against a team that passes as well as Spain. But the decline in level of play was so dramatic that Spain’s goal came as a relief. At least it was over and I could stop caring a little bit.

Gooch Onyewu showed the turning radius of a canal barge as he bit like a starving pit bull on Xavi’s feint, allowing the Barcelona midfielder to skip merrily past Frankie Hejduk and slot the ball past Brad Guzan. Blech.

Is there anything more worthless on God’s green earth than a shapeless – formless – purposeless football team? Out of ideas, out of energy, out of any sense of good or bad, right or wrong, black and white, up or down. Lost, wandering around like the poor souls in limbo.

It was only a friendly. It was only a friendly. Eddie Johnson wasn’t that bad.

Sigh.

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