Losers Still Able to Enjoy the Moment
The American players found themselves in a peculiar emotional state Friday night--wanting to celebrate the U.S. team reaching the second round but upset after being beaten by Poland.
The victory wrapped in a loss left them bewildered.
“I told Brian [McBride] in the locker room after the game, ‘What an unbelievable roller coaster ride,’ ” Landon Donovan said. “It was like, ‘We’re down, 2-0,’ then ‘We’re down, 3-0,’ then there is a penalty kick. Then I score a goal and I think, ‘I can’t celebrate.’ Then I look at the bench and see my teammates cheering and the crowd cheering and I’m thinking, ‘Did Korea score?’ It was just up and down. A little too much.”
Frankie Hejduk felt the same way.
“It was a weird feeling,” he said. “We’re losing and we definitely didn’t have a great game, so we’re disappointed about that, but at the same time we’re thankful that we made the second round.”
McBride was confused too.
“When you lose a game, you’re never happy,” he said. “But this time you have to have a little bit of joy because of the things we did before today. It’s weird. I’ve never felt like that after a soccer game, especially one I’ve lost.”
Donovan put the ball into the Polish net twice, but the first time, in the fourth minute, didn’t count because referee Lu Jun of China ruled that Donovan had fouled defender Arkadiusz Glowacki before heading the ball in.
Donovan disputed that.
“What am I, about 5-foot-8 and a buck and a half [150 pounds]?” Donovan asked reporters. “That guy is 6-2 , 210. I don’t think I’m strong enough to move him. I think he flopped, but that’s the way it goes.”
Goalkeeper Brad Friedel, who saved a penalty kick in the U.S.'s 1-1 tie with South Korea, repeated the feat against Poland when he dived to his left to deny Maciej Zurawski in the 76th minute after Tony Sanneh tripped Pawel Kryszalowicz.
“You don’t want to keep giving teams penalties,” Friedel said. “It’s not like you can save them every time they take them on you. You try to read them and try to guess on them.”
U.S. Coach Bruce Arena was asked by a television interviewer after the game to explain how South Korea and the U.S. could have finished ahead of Portugal and Poland in Group D.
“I don’t think at the end of the day anyone would have picked the results in this group,” he replied. “Nor would they have picked the results throughout the World Cup. It’s been an unusual World Cup to date, and it’ll be an interesting round of 16 ahead of us.”