Soccer can be a cruel game. For over sixty minutes our US National Team boys looked lively and more energetic than the favored Argentines. In fact I would venture to say we looked like the better team. However, tired legs and inexperience caught up with the USA and we succumbed to a 4-1 defeat. Watching the game at my newly adopted futbol home in Cozumel, the patrons and owners were pulling for the US largely because of me. It’s too bad we were so outclassed late in the match. I found it interesting that the waiter simply assumed that without Landon Donovan, a single player the US would get smoked out of the Copa, whereas if he were playing the US would be a threat to win the event. Such is the high respect Mexican fans have for the #10 they call the “Mexicutioner.”
I would say the most disappointing aspect of the match for me was how out of position our central defenders, Jimmy Conrad and Jay DeMerit seemed to be on multiple occasions. DeMerit looked completely outclassed which is especially unfortunate considering he seems to be everybody’s favorite player these days, the guy we want to see do well. Secondly, I’m still curious about why Coach Bradley decided to pull Benny Olsen who seemed to be outworking Cambiasso and Riquelme in the midfield for Eddie Gaven, whose career has been a complete washout to this point. Bob Bradley has pushed all the right buttons this year with the national team, but this particular substitution was probably his worst moment. Even if Olsen was tiring which didn’t seem to be the case, you are subbing a World Cup veteran whose versatility is among the best in the US player pool for a low energy player who doesn’t position himself properly. Now if Olsen really was spent, I think Kyle Beckerman could have come in to the match and done a much better job than Gaven. Come to think of it, I have no clue whatsoever why Coach Bradley selected Gavin for the squad to begin with.
Our attack was very limited. Justin Mapp and Ben Olsen provided some good energy and runs, but the forwards were once again absent. Eddie Johnson did well to draw a penalty and coolly finished the goal, but otherwise his reluctance to take guys on is mind boggling. Going into last year’s World Cup, Bruce Arena made the same observation publically about EJ, yet Johnson still hasn’t changed his mentality out there. Taylor Twellman once again provided little if anything, but the more I think about it we are for the foreseeable future stuck with there guys in the attack. I was pleased with the sense of positioning and quality runs Marvell Wynne provided. Like Gaven, I thought the selection of Wynne for Copa was questionable, but his effort last night provided otherwise.
I’ll be back stateside for the Paraguay match and hope we can learn from what went wrong late in the match last night.