Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Poised Over The Panic Button
I'm not going to do it. I am not going to freak out about the U.S.' 1-0 loss to Morocco last night (on home soil, mind you). I am going to breathe, and remind myself that this game is the equivalent of a preseason game. Great preseason's rarely equal subsequent success. Right, Falcons Fans?
I am concerned, of course, that our team captain may face an extended injury lay off leading into the World Cup, and our only established right fullback committed a gaffe (leading up to the lone goal) that had even a soccer novice, like myself, pulling what few hairs he has left out.
That being said, I trust Bruce. I have to think he is seeing the same things we are...that the team is better attacking with Convey on the field, that we need someone up top with McBride, and that Wolff is about as threatening as The Teletubbies - Bruce has to give Eddie Johnson a full game with McBride here in the next week.
Also, I have to remember that Morocco was one game away from qualifying for this World Cup, in what turned out to be a very strong African cycle. This was not a cupcake...or whatever the analogous pastry is at the Imperial Fez.
A disclaimer here...the US National Team is one of the only teams I refer to as "we". I work to avoid it when referring to professional outfits like the Hawks, Braves, Falcons, etc. The only other exception is any team related to Appalachian State. I feel like I can be an unabashed homer when it comes to my country, or my alma mater. For some reason, using "we" when talking about pro teams almost seems to be approaching restraining order territory.
The other sports item of interest to this blogger was last night's NBA Draft Lottery, where the Hawks were awarded the 5th pick in June's draft. The Raptors, the other team soiled by someone named Babcock, will pick 1st. It appears the Hawks are the only team in the league capable of being abjectly terrible for an extended period of time, and still not be awarded the #1 pick. No worries this time, though, as the draft has no true #1, and is deep enough to get a player at #5 that has as much potential as the #1 selection.
Of course, they always seem to get shuffled to just the right spot to prevent them from drafting a true impact player. Whether being 2nd last year, and almost browbeaten into taking Marvin Williams, or being 21st in 2003 - having to take Boris Diaw - when a 5th pick would have netted Dwayne Wade.
Speaking of Diaw, I really wish the national media would get off the "The Suns got a steal in Diaw" bandwagon. I'm sure it's real hard to find open shots, box out for rebounds, dish out assists, and generally be ignored by opposing defenses when you are playing with Shawn Marion and Steve Nash.
He was useless to the Hawks because he serves his purpose only when surrounded by supreme talent, of which Atlanta had none in his time here. Put Diaw on the Knicks, and he's right back to Anonymous European Guy. I would trade him and draft picks for Joe Johnson again on any day of the week. The Hawks need a superstar, and they acquired a budding one when they picked up Johnson. People seem to forget that the Hawks, in fact, picked up one of only 5 players to average 20 points and 6 assists a game this season. Read the list, it's pretty impressive company. Overall, his numbers were better than Diaw's, but let's not let facts get in the way of an easy media target.