National Teams Went All Out
CHICAGO– The crowd cheered and supported the Polish team. Most in the stadium wore ‘Red and White’. The ‘Friendly’ had 31,696 turn out at Soldier Field as the national teams of Poland and the USA battled to a 2-2 tie.
Before the game, U.S. Soccer saluted veteran striker Brian McBride for his contributions to the men’s national team. He played in three World Cups. He is retiring from the Chicago Fire of the MLS this season.
Polish Coach Franciszek Smuda said, “This game is for prestige, this is all out and serious.”
It was the first meeting between the two national teams since March 2008, when the U.S. blanked Poland 3-0 in Krakow. The game and festivities did not disappoint.
In the beginning, forward Jozy Altidore gave the U.S. a lead in the 13th minute as the 20-year-old striker took a long feed from Jermaine Jones and popped a low shot past Polish goalie Artur Boruc.
Poland had a great opportunity in the U.S. zone in the 21st minute as forward Robert Lewandowski had a one-on-one against Howard. Lewandowski didn’t get much on the shot and the U.S. goalkeeper deflected the ball.
Adam Matuszczyk evened the score for Poland nine minutes later on a short shot. It was great action in front of the net, as U.S. defender Oguchi Onyewu tried to clear the ball. Polish midfielder Ludovic Obraniak picked it up. He made a little pass to Matuszczyk, who took the shot through the legs of midfielder Stuart Holden and past Howard.
Frustration came next for Altidore, as he had a great opportunity for the U.S. in the 43rd minute but Boruc got his hand on a short shot and the ball was deflected.
Onyewu made amends in the 52nd minute and got the second U.S. goal when he headed a shot past Boruc. It was set up following a great placed corner kick from Holden.
At the 73rd minute, Polish midfielder Jakub Blaszczykowski got the equalizer. The Polish tie goal came when Blaszczykowski took extra time to line up his shot and send it past U.S. goalie Tim Howard. "We paid the price for failure to clear balls," said U.S. coach Bob Bradley.
After the game, U.S. goalkeeper Howard got high praise from his coach. “Howard kept us in the game,” Bradley said.
Earlier in the week, Eric Lichaj, 21 and a Polish native who grew up in Chicago, had his first call-up to play for the U.S. National Team. “I just want overall progression,” Lichaj said. (Pronounced Lee-High) He has duel citizenship.
A right-back, Lichaj, is one of the bright new talents for Soccer U.S. He signed a new contract with Aston Villa in the English Premier League. Lichaj hopes to get experience to play in the next World Cup for the USA. “That’s how I’ve been going the last couple of years, progressing,” he added.
The future looks good for U.S. Soccer. Thirteen players on the roster were part of the squad that led the U.S. to a first place finish in group play at the FIFA World Cup for the first time in 80 years, and six of those are 25 years old or younger.
Gregory Lato, President of PZPN (the Polish Football Association) gave updates and information concerning the preparations for the Euro2012. Poland and the Ukraine will host the Euro2012.
Peszko, the Polish attacking talent did not make the trip as he was suspended by Coach Franciszek Smuda because of a late night drinking binge between recent National Team ‘Friendlies’.
The U.S. has their next game in Chester, Pennsylvania at PPL Park to play Colombia. Poland will travel to Canada to take on Ecuador in Montreal for another ‘International Friendly’.
(Raymond Rolak is a Michigan based Sports Broadcaster)
Photo by Jacek Urbanczyk Rolco Sports Network
October 11, 2010