Upon further consideration of yesterday's weirdness, I reckon Mastroeni did deserve a red for trying to amputate that Italian gent's leg. De Rossi's elbow, though, could be a prosecutable offense. The Italians talked all week about how unfamiliar the Americans were to them, which must of have been true if they didn't know that Brian McBride sheds blood at the slightest provocation, let alone full-scale assault and battery.
Everyone's talking up the brave American effort (even the hard-to-impress Amy Lawrence), and it was a thing of steely beauty. With Ghana playing the sexy football they showed against the Czechs, Thursday should be awesome. Two outsider teams with everything to play for? Tasty. (Meanwhile, those manic-depressive Euro teams need to sort their shit out as well, making for a riveting double feature.)
While brushing past issues psychoanalytical, my current theory on Team USA is that we (yeah, I said "we") only play well when we have something to prove. See v. Portugal and v. Germany in 2002, or any game against the Mexicans. The '02 quarterfinal finish and subsequent FIFA rankings inflation left us over-impressed with our own credentials heading into the Czech game, but once we were properly drubbed, collective manhood questioned, etc., it triggered something in the squad's shared reptile brain. Full credit to Bruce Arena—just as he obviously screwed up prep for Game One, he managed to uncage the beast this time around.
Mastroeni's suspension hurts us, but not mortally. Based on his defending yesterday, I'd say Pope's absence is a blessing. I'm for sticking Jimmy Conrad in the first eleven—mostly because he's just a rad dude. Shelve McBride—how many Fs in "ineffectual," again?—in favor of the Hip-Hop Connection of Deuce and Eddie Johnson, with Donovan running behind them. It's time to go all in, as the poker addicts say.