With the United States fielding a virtual “B” team for yesterday’s full international versus China it was imperative for the two most experienced American attackers in the side to step up. Both DeMarcus Beasley and Clint Dempsey answered the call. Operating with more confidence in Bob Bradley’s 4-3-3 formation than in Bruce Arena’s 4-5-1 formation (which played like a 4-3-3 when Dempsey and Beasley pushed up) both veterans made daring runs, great crosses and created countless opportunities for the US tonight. They gave a virtual clinic on how to play on the flanks. The match began with the US swarming forward with numbers and signaling their intent to spend the night attacking. The first American goal came when Beasley dribbled around the Chinese keeper and was then taken down.
Hamburger’s SV Benny Feilhaber scored the second US goal with some nice team play combining with Sacha Kljestan, but it was Dempsey and Beasley who continued to create countless chances, which China’s goalkeeper did a very good job of reading. In the second half Dempsey finally scored after having been denied from point blank range twice and then Oguchi Onyewu who is currently club less and hoping suitors come his way scored the fourth US goal. The 4-1 final was a fitting result for a dominating performance with so many non regulars playing for the U.S.
The following American players received their first senior national cap in this match:
Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA, MLS)… Kljestan has been a key player for Chiavs USA
Charlie Davies (Hammarby IF, Sweden)… Davies has been getting regular playing time in Sweden whose season overlaps with MLS
Kamani Hill (VfL Wolfsburg, Germany) … Has fought for playing time at Wolfsburg and shows promise
Lee Nguyen (PSV Eindhoven, Netherlands)… Nguyen is among the most polished Americans and has become a regular for an outstanding club
Bob Bradley has to be pleased with the play of his youngsters and with the leadership both Beasley and Dempsey demonstrated. Bradley must hope that the MLS based players coming into the National Team camp this week feed off of this result and the energy Dempsey and Beasley have shown and have a successful Gold Cup. This was the fifth match for the United States under Bob Bradley and with the exception of the disappointing stalemate against Guatemala, the US has used pushing the ball down the flanks to create countless opportunities in the other four matches. Even though Bruce Arena professed a faith in wing/flank play to often the ball seemed to be floating in the middle of the pitch with the wing players coming inside. Arena perhaps had too much faith in Claudio Reyna and John O’Brien both central midfielders to truly give his wide midfielders the freedom to create opportunities with the regularity they have under Bradley. Which style is preferable for the US is debatable. Using O’Brien and Reyna as target men, the US were unlucky not to advance to the semifinals in the 2002 World Cup. However, the number of good chances the US has been creating under Bradley against respectable opposition seem far greater than any point during the Arena era, but the real tests are coming this summer.