Perhaps the only two things that everyone can on agree on when it comes to this game is that the USA missed a ton of chances and that Jozy Altidore scored a very un-Jozy like goal. In many ways it was a very strange affair.
For starters the “ask” of the US had changed based on the final few moments of the game that preceded them. Panama’s added time equalizer against Canada had put top place in the group beyond the reach of the USA and a draw was all that was needed in order to reach the knock out stage.
It was apparent in their games against Panama and Canada that if Guadeloupe were allowed to play at their pace then they looked like a decent side. The US didn’t allow that to happen and they maintained a pace to the game that kept Guadeloupe on the back foot for much of the match. For that the US deserves some credit.
However, it can also be a little bit misleading as well. In many cases the physical attributes of players – generally a strong point of the USA – overshadowed their technical contributions.
The full-back pairing of Cherundolo and Lichaj was a good example. They played essentially as wing-backs and they thundered up and down the pitch all night. But rarely did they have an attacker to bother about and with only a couple of exceptions the final ball they played was either poor or one that just shifted responsibility to a teammate.
Another was the USA defensive unit’s proclivity to push forward aggressively and to catch the Guadeloupe forwards napping and offside. It worked repeatedly but it is doubtful that it would have been so successful against more aware and astute attackers.
The midfield pairing of Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones got the job done but the duo has yet to gel as a unit. Bradley seems reticent to surge forward to support the attack while the lack of pace from Jones is going to be a problem against more fleet-footed opponents.
Jozy Altidore’s abiding memory of the game will be his stunning strike from 25 yards that flew past the Guadeloupe keeper Grandel. It really was a cracking shot.
However, for most it will be a game remembered for wastefulness. From around the 25th minute it was very much a shooting gallery but one where the USA had trouble hitting the target.
Clint Dempsey will rightfully come in for the most criticism has he missed a number of gilt-edged chances. Fortunately it did not come back to haunt the USA.
The question now is can the USA place a poor group stage behind them as they get ready to get down to the real business of the knock out stage. Up on Saturday is Jamaica.
Player Ratings (1 – low, 10 – high)
Tim Howard – 5
Steve Cherundolo – 6
Clarence Goodson – 5
Carlos Bocanegra – 6
Eric Lichaj – 5
Jermaine Jones – 5
Michael Bradley (off 85th) – 6
Landon Donovan – 4
Clint Dempsey – 4
Chris Wondolowski (off 64th) – 5
Jozy Altidore (off 78th) – 7
Alejandro Bedoya (on 64th) – 6
Sacha Kljestan (on 78th) – 6
Maurice Edu (on 85th) – NR
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