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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 June 2006, 08:50 GMT 09:50 UK
US papers bemoan Czech drubbing
Czech midfielder Tomas Rosicky celebrates his spectacular goal against the USA
The Czechs were all smiles - the Americans were not
American journalists are not as insistent on punning as their British counterparts, but they were unable to resist wordplay as they dissected Team USA's crushing defeat in their opening match of World Cup 2006.

"US held in Czech," the Washington Times declared.

A number of papers, including the Chicago Tribune, called the 3-0 defeat a "reality Czech".

The Chicago broadsheet summed up the way American hopes turned to despair within minutes of the kick-off.

"It took a run to the quarterfinals during the 2002 World Cup for the United States to make people forget about the poor US teams of the past, but it took only five minutes on Monday to remind them," the Tribune said, in reference to Czech striker Jan Koller scoring the first goal against the Americans while some fans were still settling into their seats.

Blanked

The Houston Chronicle also went for a punning headline, declaring: "Czechs blank US".

Its summary - unlike Team USA's performance - was clinical, precise and deadly.

Everything went terribly wrong, and, as a consequence, the Americans could be mathematically eliminated by the weekend
Washington Post
"The Czechs were not just bigger than the American team in Monday's first of three round-robin games for the United States in Group E of the World Cup. They were better."

The Washington Post - a paper that covers football well, perhaps due to the city's international set and Hispanic population - was equally sober.

Monday's match signalled a "Different World for US", the paper said.

The team had set out to "prove that its quarterfinal appearance four years ago was no illusion, that the game back home had made enormous strides and that American soccer should be discussed in the same breath as the sport's elite programmes.

"Instead, everything went terribly wrong, and, as a consequence, the Americans could be mathematically eliminated by the weekend."

Making it look easy

Jeff Carlisle, writing for the cable sport station ESPN's website, began by praising the Czechs.

"Ever since the fall of the Soviet Union, the Czech nation has showed an uncanny knack for making the difficult look easy.

"They did it with their revolution. They did it again with their divorce from Slovakia. And that effortlessness certainly applied to Monday's World Cup match against the United States," he said.

This is what happened to the fifth-ranked team in the world yesterday - it flew off the treadmill
George Vecsey, New York Times
But the Czechs could not take sole credit for their victory, he added: "Was it down to Czech brilliance or American ineptitude? The answer is a lot of both... the truth is that the US not only lacks that kind of skill, but that attacking mentality as well."

New York Times sports columnist George Vecsey finds some small consolation in the thought that the last time the Americans played the Czechs (Czechoslovakia, actually) in a World Cup match, things went even worse, "my hazy memory says.

"That match consisted of Czechs and Slovaks picking up Americans and tossing them over the rim of the stadium. Yesterday's loss was sheer soccer form, the big boys beating up the smaller boys."

Pavel Nedved's slashing through US defenders produced "the effect of somebody speeding up the treadmill in the gym when you are not looking. This is what happened to the fifth-ranked team in the world yesterday. It flew off the treadmill."




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