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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Not like this: US loses to Paraguay

Photo credit: Fox Soccer

Great game. Excellent attendance. Outstanding performances. Everything but the result. That's what happened tonight as the US lost 0 - 1 at home in Nashville to Paraguay. All due credit to Paraguay. They were dominant in defense and capitalized on their chance. But for the US it has to be put simply: they will not win the Concacaf Gold Cup. Not like this.

We might argue that Paraguay's goal was a fluke and even that Howard could have stopped what Hahnemann was unable to save. We can also argue that there were plenty of chances for the Americans. But at the end of the day, the key component, the positive result, was missing. Might Holden have made a difference? We will never know.

Agudelo once again showed his class, even if this time there was no reflexion of his efforts on the scoreboard. Maybe he's more suited to be a supersub? Timmy Chandler was excellent all day long winning balls, heading forward, creating chances, using his speed. He might just take Cherundolo's place at right back. And he's just as good in a defense-to-midfield switch as was done to allow Dempsey to serve as a second striker. Great versatility.

Also credit Bob Bradley on switching from a 4-4-2 to a 3-5-2 with some success. This was a procedure used after Michael Bradley's tying goal against Slovenia in last summer's World Cup. It worked except for the final product: changing the score.

What happened to our legendary players? Where were our Bradleys, Donovans and Dempseys? Clearly, for both Bradley and Dempsey, it was the finishing touch and outstanding goalkeeping that kept them from scoring. Donovan wasn't his usual dominant self, but do remember that this would be only his fourth competitive match of the year. We only hope he rekindles his magic.

In the end, it was a soccer match that went to Paraguay due to excellent defending and a bit of luck. However, Mexico was able to put 3 goals past this usually-stout defense. And this brings me to the biggest lesson for today. The Americans need to win their home games, especially ones that they dominate in. It's about pride, home field advantage, and, perhaps more importantly, because the likely final for this summer's Gold Cup will probably be against Mexico. Which team will show up? Will it be the one that played against Argentina or the one that failed to protect its house today?

Player ratings:
Hahnemann..............5.5
DeMerrit...................5
Chandler...................7.5
Ream........................6
Bornstein.................6
Dempsey..................7
Donovan...................6
Edu...........................5.5
Bradley.....................7
Altidore....................4.5
Agudelo.....................7

Subs: Yeldell (6), Lichaj (6), Spector (N/A), Kljestan (5.5), Bocanegra (6)

2 comments:

Alastair McCandless said...

Don't get discouraged by the result, think of it as an evening out of things statistically. How many more good chances did Argentina have the other night yet they only earned a tie. If we out-chance teams 13-5 (or whatever the shot distribution was)on a regular basis we will win more games than we lose. I think Bradley is doing a lot of things right - and yes Howard should be playing all the time, but Bradley does have to see who else he has and how well they perform in the international spotlight in case Howard is injured. The only beef I have is that I would like to see Diskerud get more chances with the team, he impressed me from his first touch of the ball in S. Africa. Cheers sir, all will be well in time!

rjmera said...

All very good points. A lot of experts are also hoping to see Mixx get to play but after seeing what happened today I think it's unlikely. He probably would have come in if the US was winning by a multi-goal score. Hopefully he's still included in the Gold Cup squad. With Feilhaber being in a lower division in Denmark and Holden out for certain, there is a chance he might be called for the tournament. Hopefully he shows well in the Norway league and that accelerates his time with the nats.