Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America Classifieds
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalkSoccer America ConfidentialYouth Soccer InsiderWorld Cup Watch
RSS FeedsArchivesManage SubscriptionsSubscribe
Order Current IssueSubscribeManage My SubscriptionRenew My SubscriptionGift Subscription
My AccountJoin Now
Tournament CalendarCamps & AcademiesSoccer GlossaryClassifieds
Mario on the mark, ruing Rooney and Amazon warning signs
by Ridge Mahoney, June 14th, 2014 10:07PM

MOST READ
TAGS:  england, italy, world cup 2014

MOST COMMENTED

By Ridge Mahoney
(@ridgemax)

Here are three trains of thought in the wake of Italy's 2-1 defeat England in a Group D match Saturday.

Mario on the mark. How many English players thought to themselves when Mario Balotelli escaped Gary Cahill to head home the winning goal, "Not him again?”

The talismanic striker scored 20 goals in 54 games for Manchester City from 2010 to 2013 while enhancing his reputation for volatile behavior with incidents such as stamping on Scott Parker of Tottenham yet escaping sanction by referee Howard Webb, who apparently didn’t see the incident. He picked up four red cards during the 2011-12 season, which prompted then-manager Robert Mancini to ban him for the remainder of the campaign, but Mancini relented, and it was Balotelli who assisted on the 94th-minute goal scored by Sergio Arguero against Queens Park Rangers to clinch City’s first top-division title since 1968.

His goal against England was the 14th of his international career and the three points it earned gives Italy a solid foundation to advance, perhaps as group winner.

Ruing the Rooney misses. The Wayne Rooney World Cup goal watch continues.

He set up the goal for Daniel Sturridge by which England equalized in the 37th minute, but he labored in a wide position and never seemed settled as England pushed for the second equalizer. A terribly hit cross that flew a dozen yards behind the goal was seeming impossibly poor for a player of such Premier League accomplishments as domestic and European club titles with Manchester United, and he also dragged a shot wide from a good position.

The younger players selected by England manager Roy Hodgson, such as the excellent Raheem Sterling and Sturridge, provided enough energy and workrate to trouble an Italian team more inclined to follow the lead of aging -- yet still amazing -- playmaker Andres Pirlo. In a tight battle against such a savvy, pragmatic foe, England needed its veterans to find a solution, a scheme, a way to avoid defeat. Rooney went scoreless for the ninth time in a World Cup game, and captain Steven Gerrard couldn’t add a dose of guile to his typically yeoman work rate and commitment.

English players are supposedly the kings of crossing, yet it was Antonio Candreva who owned the right flank for more than an hour and delivered the serve from which Balotelli decided this showdown.

Warning signs deep in the Amazon. Both teams wilted visibly in the second half, which suited the more technical and cerebral Italians, though the 81-degree temperatures and 74-percent humidity aren’t unknown to players who sweat and toil through the searing summers of MLS.

After Balotelli’s goal restored Italy’s lead, England pushed hard for about 10 or 15 minutes only for their finishing and crossing to let them down. Italy’s traditional defensive composure surely aided its comfort in riding out the 2-1 lead but along with a glaring lack of ideas, fatigue sapped the energy out of England.

Many teams, including England, took the trouble of training and playing in the U.S. to prepare for the conditions in Brazil, but the size of that country during its winter solstice means games in the north will be warmer than those in the cities further south. Manaus, set deep in the Amazon jungle, will present conditions unique and severe when the USA plays Portugal there a week from Sunday.

Both teams will have five full days to recover after playing Monday, but the key for the U.S. players may be how fast they can recover to face Germany, which will have an extra day of rest for the final day of Group G play June 26. The heavy emphasis imposed by head coach Jurgen Klinsmann on conditioning and playing in hot, humid conditions is a direct product of the daunting circumstances the Americans will face in their second and third games. 

 



5 comments
  1. Mark Konty
    commented on: June 14, 2014 at 10:32 p.m.
    Portugal is meat in the Amazon basin and the US will feed 'em to the piranhas.

  1. Thomas Brannan
    commented on: June 14, 2014 at 10:45 p.m.
    In the beginning of this article relative to Howard Webb: there is a lot he doesn't see.

  1. Thomas Brannan
    commented on: June 14, 2014 at 10:47 p.m.
    Of course that is good refereeing by keeping players on the field. And he talks to the players as well.

  1. R2 Dad
    commented on: June 15, 2014 at 12:44 p.m.
    Web, the sleeping policeman: http://redcardtheref.com/?p=1678

  1. Nancy Carr-swaim
    commented on: June 15, 2014 at 1:12 p.m.
    Hopefully England will look better away from the Amazon. However, Sterling looked to be doing a bit too much dribbling through defense at times losing the ball instead of passing. Better finishing by all will help. I believe the US team will fare better at Manaus. Piranhas indeed Mark!


Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Confidential
MLS clubs face different challenges in Concacaf Champions League    
MLS is well positioned to qualify a region-high four teams for the Concacaf Champions League quarterfinals ...
New deal rewards perseverance of Olsen and his players    
Just in time for the postseason push, D.C, United head coach Ben Olsen has signed a ...
Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson runs full-court press well    
If you get the idea Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson knows what he's doing running the full-court ...
Losing skid reveals Rapids' flaws    
Injuries, sophomore slumps and a rookie head coach will be the primary causes cited if the ...
Soccer America Q&A: Falcons' Jim Smith on MLS Atlanta    
Former Columbus Crew president/general manager Jim Smith is playing a major role in the launch of ...
Changes under Cassar are taking hold for Real Salt Lake    
Real Salt Lake prides itself on continuity, yet for the past two seasons it has flourished ...
Three takeaways from Czech Republic-USA    
Alejandro Bedoya's goal and Nick Rimando's saves enabled the USA to kick off its post-2014 World ...
USA-Czech Republic Player Ratings    
Coach Jurgen Klinsmann's experimental squad -- he fielded only two 2014 World Cup regulars (Fabian Johnson ...
Toronto FC upheaval is all too familiar    
It's official: Toronto FC has overtaken Chivas USA as the most dysfunctional team in MLS.
FIFA's Putin problem    
How is it that the latest issue of GQ ranks FIFA president Sepp Blatter as No. ...
>> Soccer America Confidential Archives