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Bobby McMahon

Bobby McMahon

You can see me on Soccer Central most Mondays and Thursdays on Rogers Sportsnet in Canada. I write a regular column for Forbes.com and Soccerly.com and frequently guest on various podcasts and radio shows.


TANGENTS

USA Move On In Gold Cup But….

Written by on June 15, 2011 | 11 Comments »
Posted in General, United States

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

Subs used

Alejandro Bedoya (on 64th) – 6

Sacha Kljestan (on 78th) – 6

Maurice Edu (on 85th) – NR

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11 responses to “USA Move On In Gold Cup But….”

  1. Gus Keri says:

    The US play Jamaica on Sunday.

    Here are the quarterfinals pairings:

    Saturday:
    Costa Rica vs. Honduras 5 pm EST
    Mexico vs. Guatemala 8 pm

    Sunday:
    USA vs. Jamaica 3 pm
    Panama vs. El Salvador 6 pm

  2. Gus Keri says:

    I am afraid Wondolowski is turning into another Jason Kries or Taylor Twellman. He seems not to be able to copy his form in the MLS when he is with the national team.

    It seems that some players are used to certain familiar surrounding where they can excel but when you take them out of that environment, they totaly disappear.

  3. Soccerlogical says:

    Gus – We all know the goods when we see em. Nothing about garden variety players like Taylor, Kries and Wondo ever suggested they are anything more than MLS LEGO LEAGUE Strikers.

    The talent and natural finishing ability lies only in C Davies, Agudelo and maybe Altidore if he doesn’t ride the bench next season for Villareal.

    I think Bradley used the group stages to try out several players like J Jones. I think as hosts who have won the darn thing a bunch of times, Bradley and his team looked to start the tournie in 1st and 2nd gear and make it exciting for the rest of the CONCACAF group.

    All the Bradley doubters will see a potent US attack against Jamaica and understand that it wasn’t good for the GC and minnow teams involved to have USA put 5 past a team which isn’t even recognized by FIFA (i.e. Guadeloupe).

  4. Gabe says:

    The US has a common syndrome with several mid level teams around the world. The US play up or play down to the quality of the opposition. This is simply because the US for the most part has very few players of international quality. But it has a very strong team spirit and mental fortitude. These atributes are specially in play when faced with a superior quality team or rival. But when faced with a perceived lower quality opposition, they don’t come into effect as much. Based on this I expect the US to improve over the knock out stages.

  5. alex in houston says:

    One troubling sign during the game against Guadalupe was the amount of undefended space the left back was leaving open in attack. Also, some small mistakes such as the inside mids not helping cover a fullbacks forward runs, the holding mids not knowing if to press or stand off, & finally most times dempsey & donovan were the two getting lit up. Was it the small amount of time clint spent defending & pressuring on the ball gassed him enough to whif on all those chances in front of goal? The U.S. controlled much of the tempo but it did not look or come naturally. Howard was booting long balls up the field & on several occasions started a break for the opposition. How is it that a Guadalupen striker is left to deal with Donovan as the last line in defense.

  6. alex in houston says:

    Last thing Bobby don’t you think the whole reason for Landon playing inside is to dribble to try an make into the box first & then make a decision. Was cut off easily enough by the Guadalupen centerback on several occasions. What’s with the whole mess of trying to win the backpost just cause its a lot easier to knock it from just outside the box. I know comparisons sometimes aren’t fair & don’t really count for what’s going on now, but how was Bruce Arena using Landon. Me thinks I forgot. Nite.

  7. Roberto Manita says:

    SL,

    You daft bastard, the USA could not put five past Guadeloupe if they were given five PKs!!!

    Can you spell regression’??? That is where the USA is right now. You keep that daft Sr Bradley as the man in charge and you will reap what you sow.

    I’m not impressed.

  8. Roberto Manita says:

    And Mr. SL,

    When you meet El Tri … forget about it! No matter your formation or your manager. Proctology examination in affect.

    Do not put $$$ on the USA.

    It will be a lost cause …

  9. Alex in Houston – there is also the possibility that it has little to do with tactics and Donovan is still not sharp after being ill for a few days.

  10. Soccerlogical says:

    RM – LOL

    All will be revealed against The Reggae Boyz!

    PS Really glad to see Lerner on the brink of signing McLeish… a very good match regardless of what a few thug fans may say!

  11. Gbenga says:

    The US team lacks a creative midfielder who can sort of dictate the pace of the game for them when the going gets tough. They don’t have a Tab Ramos or Claudio Reyna type player who could get things going. In the first game against Canada, they looked good and dictated the pace of the game because Canada didn’t attack them. When they run into a team that holds the ball very well like what we saw in Panama. They struggle and don’t have the players or skills to match up with those types of teams.

    The game against Jamaica will be similar to the game against Panama. This is the best the US can offer at this moment. I also believe the team is more run from a commercial standpoint, than a coaching standpoint. It seems the commercial interests is affecting the whole structure and I don’t see it change anytime soon. The whole US soccer program needs to change, but I doubt that will happen anytime soon.

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