U.S. vs. Czech Republic Primer

With the World Cup a mere 17 days from open, it’s tune-up time for the US men. They take the field tonight in an international friendly against the Czech Republic in Connecticut. While the name implies that this will be a polite engagement between the two national sides, I actually predict the players on each side won’t be that friendly with one another.

OK, I’m sorry. Lede-writing isn’t as easy as you’d think it is (unless you’re this guy), and sometimes you have to reach a little. At any rate, read on to learn a little bit about this mysterious Czech Republic character, and his game against our Yankees tonight.

image courtesy: footballfashion.org/wordpress
  • History: The Czech Republic was formerly part of Czechoslovakia, which split during the “Velvet Revolution” in 1989. Now, it is two different countries: Slovakia and our friendlies, the Czech Republic. Also, the Czech Republic is a bunch of gays and whores. Thanks to Wikipedia for the national background.
  • Oh, how the tables have turned: The last time these teams met, it opened up group play for each team in the 2006 World Cup. The Czech Republic cruised to a 3-0 lead, and the Americans wouldn’t recover as they didn’t make it out of the group stages. Now, four years later, the Czechs have failed to qualify for the World Cup and the Americans head to South Africa with a great chance to make it out of group play. One thing I know qualifies: this situation, as schadenfreude.
  • Oh so close: The Americans only have two pre-World Cup matches following tonight’s friendly, so look for them to fine tune some things. Namely, look for manager Bob Bradley to perfect the correct distance for his feet to be spread when he stands with his arms crossed, look for midfielder Landon Donovan to prefect the precision with which he squirms on the ground when trying to sell a foul, and look for goalkeeper Tim Howard to perfect being way better than all of his teammates.
  • Bono: This game will be telecast on ESPN, meaning you are likely to see at least two World Cup ads per commercial break. If your Bono lasts longer than four hours, be sure to contact a physician.
  • Injuries: According to ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle, there are only four players on the Czech Republic’s current roster that were on the squad when they pounded the U.S. four years ago–thanks largely to injury. I would make a joke here, but it’s no fun to kick the Czech Republic while it’s down. I mean, it’s bad enough that they didn’t even qualify for the World Cup. And then to have lost to an average Turkey team last week? It would be in such poor taste to rub in that they’re without two of their best players in Arsenal’s Tomas Rosicky and Milan Baros after they’ve sucked so badly for the last four years. I’m above that.
  • Welcome back, Guchi: US defenseman Oguchi Onyewu is expected to get some action tonight for the first time since rupturing his patella tendon against Costa Rica last October. After getting his action, Onyewu is expected to play in the friendly against the Czech Republic. I can only assume he will be fully energized for the game.
  • Finalizing the Roster: While the Czech Republic might just feel like being friendly tonight, the US men actually have some questions to answer for the World Cup. Seven of the players on the current roster will be trimmed for the final 23-man roster that will head to South Africa. Midfielder DaMarcus Beasley, once thought to be the future of U.S. soccer, now finds himself battling some younsters to even make the team. Fear not, DaMarcus, you don’t have any sort of history for choking at the worst possible times. I’m sure you’re completely fine.
  • The Super Bowl will be in New York City in 2014!: New York is close to Connecticut.
  • Forward thinking: Jozy Altidore is expected to start for the US men in their June 12 opener against the Brits, but who will start beside him at the other forward? That’s what Bob Bradley hopes to find out tonight. My hunch is that it will end up being Herculez Gomez. Ha! Bet you thought I was going to make some joke about his name! Sorry to disappoint you, but I don’t plan on go(mez)ing there.

Well folks, enjoy the match. And don’t forget to Czech back to Korked Bats for sporadic World Cup coverage!

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