The performance of the US National Team on Tuesday night in Nashville against Morocco was nothing short of embarrassing. Morocco is without a doubt the best side the US will face in the run up to Germany 2006, but Morocco had brought basically a B team to the match and it was painfully obvious that the Americans were not playing with a great deal of passion particularly after Claudio Reyna’s injury. Reyna has spent most of the last 8 months on the shelf after starting the English season on fire with his club side, Manchester City. The health of the two most creative and possession oriented American players, Reyna and John O’Brien continue to be a concern. With the exception of Pablo Mastroeni, Eddie Pope and Oguchi Onyewu the rest of the squad looked lost. Thankfully it was a friendly and the entire team came out much sharper and focused against Venezuela. I loved the energy that Bobby Convey brought to the game, and Eddie Johnson looked valuable after having looked like he’d figure in the bottom tier of the 700 plus players in World Cup 2006 after Tuesday’s pathetic showing. DeMarcus Beasley is sloppy and inconsistent, and perhaps Convey will replace Beasley as the starting left wing player?
The loss of Cory Gibbs to injury is blow for the squad. I am disappointed because he is a Broward County native and was one of only two Floridians on the squad, and also because he provided critical depth on the back line. Frankie Hejduk’s injury is also a severe blow, because Hejduk has arguably been our best player in the last two world cups.
What this squad needs to develop is some leadership. During Japan/Korea 2002, Tony Sanneh emerged as a natural team leader and besides playing every minute of every game at a high level, Sanneh was visible in organizing his teammates on set pieces and demonstrating vocal leadership on and off the pitch. Perhaps the energetic Mastroeni or experienced Eddie Lewis will emerge as this cup Sanneh? Regardless of who emerges as a leader, we need someone to step up and fill that role.