FIFA U-20 Austria vs. USA
I had the luck to catch the Austria - USA U-20 FIFA Soccer quarterfinal game on Saturday, and let me tell you, it was a doozy.
For the entire first half of regulation, I thought the United States was going to win. They showed a remarkable drive that was let down only by their inability to finish plays. Almost all of the action was in Austria's half, where I was sitting. The Americans had some of the best footwork I have ever seen in soccer players; Adu, the American captain did a quadruple scissors(!!) at one point, which had people cheering. The US also managed to pull a lot of cute passes that were mostly redirecting the ball behind them to a player they weren't looking at. The entire first half was a testament to the fact that cute plays can confound a more traditional method of playing.
The second half started and Austria came out strong. They shut down almost every play that the US tried, and almost all of the play was in the US end of the field, which means that my seats were glorious. The US managed to fend of Austria's blitz and push it into extra time (which you always want to see right? Except that it was a rainy and bugfilled afternoon. I was exceptionally wet and covered with blackflies). In the end, the US was undone by a star player that scored 4 minutes after being subbed into play in OT. That was pretty much the end of the game - the US was unable to mount a steady game afterwards. Focusing only on offense, they let a few breakaways happen, including a crazy 2-on-0 that went off the post.
I was thoroughly impressed with both teams, and happily surprised at how much fight both teams had. I think the US could have won if they focused more on finishing plays instead of making plays, or if they hadn't squandered almost every corner kick they had.
I certainly recommend catching a game, or seeing the Toronto FC play in the new soccer stadium. It was awesome.