Playing alongside Pavel Nedvěd in the attacking positions of a midfield five, Rosický and the Czech Republic dominated the game and took an early lead as the towering Jan Koller headed the ball past goalkeeper Kasey Keller inside the opening five minutes. The goal set the tone of the match, and it was Rosický who doubled the lead on 36 minutes with a superb long-range strike.
Koller had to be replaced through injury before half-time, but his departure provided Rosický with the attacking space he needed to take control of the game. The new Arsenal signing scored his second of the game after 76 minutes, and he more than deserved the man of the match award that he collected as his side celebrated their incredible start to the tournament.
“It was really one of the best matches from this team,” said Czech Republic manager Karel Brückner after the victory. Although four of his starting line-up were over the age of 30, the experienced tactician could only find positives in every aspect of the performance from his team. “Our players are not growing old, they are in the most productive age.”
However, it was a very different story for the United States. “It was embarrassing,” said striker Landon Donovan in the New York Times. “A little bit lifeless, a little bit unlucky. I didn't get the ball enough. When I did get it, I made some decent plays, but not enough. And maybe just a little more aggressive. I don't think I had a shot on goal. And playing 45 minutes at forward, that's not good enough.”
Despite the manner of the opening group stage victory, it proved to be the last celebration for the Czech Republic on their brief stay in the competition. In fact, they would fail to register another goal as respective 2-0 defeats against Ghana and Italy followed in Cologne and Hamburg, and only the United States would keep them off the bottom of the group table as Bruce Arena's team failed to win a single match.
But there was more to come for Rosický as he was named Czech Player of the Year in 2006, and he would spend the next decade at Arsenal, winning the FA Cup in 2014 and 2015. He returned to the Czech Republic with Sparta Prague in 2016 and called time on his playing career two years later having made 105 appearances for his country. That June evening in Germany still proving to be the most memorable of them all.
Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now