We dream of football and the world is full of dreams

Saturday, June 9, 2012

First step: US vs Antigua and Barbuda

 Photo credit: Getty Images

We had wished for at least 3 goals in favor. And we got it. Today, the US Men's soccer national team had an underwhelming performance against the national team from the Caribbean islands of Antigua and Barbuda. It was a 3-1 win, yes, but it could and should have been much more. Instead, after Herculez Gomez sealer, team USA was left scrambling and overly cautious of a side made up of mainly USL (3rd tier) players.

What was unsettling today was mostly the sloppy plays by Maurice Edu, Steve Cherundolo and Oguchi Onyewu. Edu is surprisingly nowhere near his level with the Glasgow Rangers. Meanwhile, Cherundolo was being overlapped and outrun in another glaring display of talent misrepresentation. This is because Steve has been a de facto right back for the United States for many years and has done so stunningly, at points, and thankfully unnoticed at others. Tonight, his diminished pace was clear and his passes were intercepted more than once.

For Onyewu things are different. "Gooch" is nowhere near the dominant center back that signed with AC Milan in 2009. A patella tendon tear in the final 2010 World Cup qualifier derailed his progress as a player and he never quite recovered for the international level. This has been the scenario starting with the World Cup in games against England and Slovenia, and most recently against Brazil and tonight's match. His athleticism and desire are unquestionably there and he remains successful at the European club level in Portugal, but his place as a starter for the United States is no longer a lock.

Aside from some of the negatives, there were a lot of positives: Donovan and Dempsey hooked up and created chances, even if they did not come to fruition, Gomez continued his scoring ways, there was good possession and Bradley and Jones continued to forge their box-to-box roles. We have to hand it to the AB defense and the goalkeeper because there was more than one goal-line clearance and over a dozen corner kicks.

The main questions remain: Who starts at left back versus Guatemala if Johnson is not available? Does Edu and/or Onyewu continue as starter? Will the attack produce goals in a 4-4-2 formation? This next game is perhaps the most important because it lets us know just how well the team can do away from home and earn points to advance to the next phase of the qualifiers. They won at Panama and Italy under Klinsmann, can they repeat the feat in a meaningful match?

Player ratings:


Subs: Onyewu (3), Boyd (N/A), Altidore (N/A)

No comments: