The Evolution of the Revolution

The trip home is always more taxing than the trip there. No excitement to look forward to; anticlimax sets in, and a job is eagerly waiting your return. After a 16 hour siesta to break the shackles of jet lag it is time for the report of the final game of the USA’s campaign in the 2005 International Cup.

A play-off for third is always a tough match. The rewards of a win are significant, while the disappointment of not making the final are palpable. For the US a win would mean a significant step upwards in the world ratings (from 5th in 2002) and for Ireland redemption as they were unable to defend their 2002 crown.

From the start the venom of the previous encounters were not evident. This was a game of football, not a game of life or death. It was still a hard fought game, but skills were on display today. The USA ball movement was excellent in the first half. The spaces looked wider than in any previous match. The USA was able to do all the little things that the pressure cooked games of PNG and New Zealand did not allow them to do.

The Revos scored 3 goals in the first quarter and 4 in the second. They looked unbeatable and displayed their best form of the tournament. All this, while the Irish were kept goalless.

The half time score read: USA 7-3:45 to Ireland 0-5:5

Ireland finally scored in the third from a free-kick directly in front of goals. This spurred Ireland and they started to show some heart. They scored a second. Ireland slowly clawed their way back, but a 7 goal deficit would be too much for any team to overcome. Ireland scored again. The Revos need to knuckle down and focus as the game is not over.  The US score in the third to steady, but then they give away a silly free-kick in front of goal on the siren. But Ireland fails to capitalize and they kick it out of bounds on the full. The Revos have given away too many undisciplined frees throughout the tournament and this will be an area to work on before 2008.

The Irish made some serious inroads, but the score is still weighted heavily in favor of the USA; 8-4:52 to 3-5:23.

A scuffle between the players as they broke into their respective huddles for the third quarter break shows that both teams want to walk away in third place.

Coach Al Nugent spoke calmly to his players “don’t let them get a goal and rest of the game is irrelevant”. Meanwhile the Irish coach took a more proactive approach screaming: “ use your legs, use your hearts, work as a team.”

The Irish scored quickly, but that would be all the majors they would get in this game. At the other end Dustin Jones marked and goaled. Within the next 60 seconds he had scored again with a nice goal on the run. These goals steadied the Revolution who ran out the remainder of the clock for a historic win.

Final Score: USA 10-5:65 to Ireland 4-6:30

Goal Kickers: Jones (4), C. Ellis (2), Loring, Thurmond, Purcell, Curry (1)
Best: Jones, Lucero, James Brunmeier, Nelson, C Ellis, Thurmond

Assistant Coach Robbie Oliver had a big grin that his handlebar moustache could not hide; “At the start of the tournament we said we would never be beaten for effort. We were third because we lived by that and were NEVER beaten for effort”. Coach Nugent’s smile could be more easily seen; “I wouldn’t have thought we would have beaten Ireland by 6 goals. We have improved significantly and this result shows how far we have come. The last few percentage points of improvement will be the hardest.”

The flow of the Revo’s game shows what can be accomplished when you focus solely of footy for 2 intensive weeks. The Revo’s play a physical game that will continue to improve over the next three years as we prepare for the 2008 version of the Cup.

In the Grand Final at the MCG New Zealand beat Papua New Guinea. PNG had the crowd behind them as they made a spirited comeback in the last quarter to get within 5 points of the Kiwi’s, but NZ hung tough to become the eventual winners.

It was a great tournament and one that the entire USAFL should be proud of what our boys have accomplished. Special thanks to all the staff that made the trip possible, especially to Mark Wheeler who had everything ready for the team when they arrived in Australia and the Alan Nugent, who coached the Revos with style and grace.

Paul “Plugger” O’Keeffe
Back in Milwaukee

- Paul O'Keeffe

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