Work in Sports
Using their heads
Americans use smart play to score against Czechs
By Michael Lewis, CNNSI.com
CANBERRA, Australia -- When they scored the second goal of their 2-2 draw with the Czech Republic on Wednesday night, the Americans wound up using their heads in more ways than one.
One way was literal as veteran defender Jeff Agoos started the scoring sequence with an emphatic head pass.
The other way was more figurative as Conor Casey and Josh Wolff, used their playing wits to outsmart the Czech defense.
Agoos, one of three Over-23 players on the team, intercepted a Czech clearance at midfield and headed it to an onrushing forward Conor Casey on the left wing.
"I looked up and saw they [the defense] were flat," he said. "I was just trying to put it deep. Conor ran onto it. They were pushing up and got caught. He slipped through and then zipped it over to Wolfie. We caught them on a pretty simple play that was a heads-up play on our part."
Forward Josh Wolff, who was running down the right side, appeared to be offside, but game officials, including referee Carlos Eugenio Simon, did not see it that way and let play continue. Casey ran toward the penalty area and sent a low drive to Wolff, who beat goalkeeper Jaroslav Drobny with a right-footed shot from three yards.
"He was there and when he went to play it, he cut it back," Wolff said. "When he cut it back, I stopped my run and pulled back. I watched on the video afterwards, I saw the guy [defender] come in and I knew I wasn't offsides. There wasn't a real good opportunity for him to clear it. He was pretty much a yard off the line.
"I was fortunate. You make a run at the back post and that's where you want to get it."
Added Agoos: "Casey and Josh were ready to go. They were ready to capitalize on their mistake and that's the name of the game."
The Czechs bounced back to tie the score, but the Americans walked out of Bruce Stadium feeling as though they won.
"We earned some respect," Wolff said. "The big thing is that we have to go out and duplicate it in the next game to show that we are a team that can play attractive soccer and be dangerous."
"We've got to be a little disciplined when we have the lead," Wolff said. "We didn't take care of our lead tonight. We became a little unraveled. In big international matches like this, they can make you pay for it.
"We should have gotten three points, but we are happy with the one."
Michael Lewis covers soccer for the New York Daily News. His third book, Soccer For Dummies, was published in the spring.