USA 3 Portugal 2

By Myles Palmer


Yanks 3 Crocks 2


The golden generation have become the crinkly, crocked generation – and it this proved it.

Let me say : I love the Argarve and Lisbon.

Love the people, love the climate,love the beaches, love Portuguese football, delighted when they got Euro 2004.

But picking a team on seniority is stupid.

Keeper Vitor Baia is past it, Jorge Costa lumbers where other defenders run, and Jao Pinto has been powderpuff for five years at least.

Couto was being beaten far too easily on the deck in Euro 2000.

MY THEORY is that 99% of Portuguese players don’t sustain it.

They mature early and peak early and fade badly.

One in 10 million, like Luis Figo sustains it,improves, achieves.

But Figo now looks like a player who has been on the treatment table every day for the last three months.


They had a good shape, a simple game plan, and they did the basics very well.

They played methodical football with verve.

And they got a flying start with two early goals.

After two minutes, a good corner on the left, Brian McBride heads it, parried by Baia,John O’Brien knocks it in.

BAIA punched a weak curling free-kick, signalling nerves, panic, neurosis, imminent failure.

Donovan got onto the loose ball but hit the side-netting.

After a melee the ball went to Donovan, who was offside, no flag.His cross was deflected off Jorge Costa’s head, beating Baia at his near post after travelling 15 yards or more.

I thought RICARDO of Boavista would be in goal, but what do I know?

Then a fantastic early cross from the touchline and MCBRIDE headed a textbook goal at the far post !

36 minutes gone, USA are winning 3-0 !!!!!

After 39, BETO got one back. A left wing corner, knockdown by Conceicao, cleared by O’Brien, Beto sidefooted firmly past Brad Friedel.

RUI COSTA hit a 20 yarder which beats the post by less than a foot.

Half time, it’s 3-1 and the tournaments second big shock looked inevitable.

Second half, PAULETA headed across the goal when he

should have tried to score himself.

Typical over-elaboration and,when you are 3-1 down, beyond belief.

Then PAULETA raced onto a Figo defence-splitter but the ball reared up and back on him off the dead, sticky pitch and, with two defenders closing fast, he lobbed over the bar.

After 70, giant veteran Agoos made it 3-2 wiih an own-goal when Pauleta crossed from the left.

NUNO GOMES came on for Rui Costa, but did nothing.

Last week Arsene Wenger said in the Standard said that players who have a good World Cups will be fit players who have had good seasons with their clubs.

That does NOT apply to Figo, Rui Costa, Nuno Gomes, Couto, Jorge Costa, Vitor Baia.

USA’s next game is South Korea.

The Koreans will pulverise Portugal in the last game.

So Portugal are on the way out. Sad, really.

Unless the kid, HUGO VIANA of Sporting, can come in and yturn it round.

He’s only about 19. Very good cocky kid, really creative, but it would be asking a lot.

June 5th 2002.