Good morning, Fear the Wall.
USMNT Falls to Panama in Vintage CONCACAF Shitshow
It’s undeniable that the United States Men’s National Team has made some significant progress over the last few years. An aging core of veterans has slowly been replaced by a young team with promising talents from some of the brightest academies on both side of the Atlantic. Every once in a while, though, the USMNT receives a wakeup call. Yesterday was one such day.
As star-studded French and Spanish lineups dueled in Italy for the UEFA Nations League, the USMNT once again found itself on the losing side of a dreary slog of a match against a Central American minnow that no self-respecting football power should have any business losing. One could rattle off a handful of tepid excuses for America’s performance. Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, and Gio Reyna were all absent with injuries. It was a CONCACAF away match. It was rather humid.
At the end of the day, these are just excuses. Such results are a stark reminder that as much as the USA might be a footballing nation on the rise, it still has a long way to go before it can compete with the established powers. Panama out-shot the USA 8-5. The Americans couldn’t muster a single shot on target in 90 minutes. Just by casual observation, it was clear that Panama was the superior side, with a higher work ethic and a more organized system. Questions will be asked about Gregg Berhalter, and Gyasi Zardes, and the direction of the team in general.
Vive la France
Meanwhile across the pond, France defeated Spain to win the UEFA Nations League final. The go-ahead goal was scored by Kylian Mbappé on a goal that caused quite a bit of controversy. When Lucas Hernandez struck his pass to Mbappé, the PSG forward was clearly in an offside position. But Eric Garcia, the Spanish center back closest to Mbappé, deflected the ball away, allowing Mbappé to run the ball down.
Technically, because the defender deflected the ball away, it was not offside. This seems like a strange application of the rule, because the only reason Garcia played it at all was because Mbappé was behind him. Garcia had no way of knowing that Mbappé was offside, so he had no choice but to play the ball anyway. Even after a VAR review, the referee ruled the play a goal, ensuring that the typical VAR discourse would dominate football for the rest of the day.
In the end, the goal counted, and France lifted the trophy. Hooray.
The Daily Buzz
Everybody fight about VAR - go!