Bad Rolls & Bad Play Dominates Team USA Day One Play

Day one of the 2013 Mosconi Cup was a day that Team USA would like to forget. It was a day of bad rolls, and worse than that, bad play for Team USA.

The first three of the five matches of the day saw Team USA get out to an early lead, only to allow Team Europe to grab control of the match and score easy wins for the most part.
A combination of great European shots, poor US play and the pool gods cost Team USA the first match, after leading 2-1 early. 
The second match of the day saw Earl Strickland & Rodney Morris lead Darren Appleton and a less than stellar Karl Boyes 2-0, only to lose the match 6-3 after Team Europe rallied. Any jitters shown by Boyes early were quickly ironed out as he regained his usual form, and Team Europe once again took full advantage of their chances at the table.
Match three might have been the worst loss for Team USA as Shane Van Boening - a shoo-in for player of the year - took on Mika Immonen, who has not shown his usual standard of play outside of Tunica this year. A 2-2 tie was broken by Shane taking advantage of an unforced error by Immonen in rack five and then a break and run by Van Boening in rack six to give Team USA a 4-2 lead. Van Boening had the opportunity to get to the hill at 5-3, but jarred a 9-ball that he would have made routinely any other day and instead, the score was 4-4. That rack would prove to be a difference maker as the match went hill-hill before the pool gods gifted it to Team Europe with an Immonen 9-ball break.
The fourth match followed a noticeable pattern as Johnny Archer & Dennis Hatch stayed close to Ralf Souquet & Niels Feijen early, but faded away later in the match. A 2-2 tie score was broken when Team USA scratched on the break in rack 5 - a mistake that inevitably leads to a table run for the opposition - and then missed a touchy seven ball in rack six. The 4-2 lead proved to be insurmountable for Team USA and Team Europe earned another match win.
Team Europe's Darren Appleton, fueled by the confidence of the overall scoreline, took a quick 3-0 lead over Rodney Morris in match five after early errors by Morris in racks one and three.  Morris then appeared to take control of the match and Appleton was the one making unforced errors as Morris clawed back to within one at 4-3. Morris was unable to capitalize on an error by Appleton in rack eight and Team Europe was on the hill at 5-3. That lead would be too much for Morris to fade and Team Europe completed the 5-0 whitewash to earn them the largest day one lead in Mosconi Cup history.
While Team USA can certainly point to a handful of bad rolls that happened in each match, they also have to look at their inability to capitalize on the errors that Europe has made. Team Europe has looked, for the most part, the more confident team so far. Team Europe may have received some help from the pool gods, but Team USA has given them just as much help with misses at crucial times. Without those misses, Team USA could easily be leading by at least one match going into day two. 
Possibly even worse than the overall score, Team USA looks defeated already. Their demeanor is not that of a team that looks ready to pounce on Team Europe. Undoubtedly every player on Team USA has won many matches where they trailed early and they have all won matches where their opponents got more than their fair share of the rolls. The question now is whether the Americans can do that as a team today. Team USA held a players meeting after the BCA Hall of Fame dinner Monday night, and hopefully team captains Johnny Archer & Buddy Hall found some motivational words to revive the American's confidence. If not, this could be a very short Mosconi Cup event.