Today’s friendly in Krakow against Poland, was exactly that: a friendly which should not be considered some sort of great conquering victory of the US National Team. Sure you’d rather win than lose these sorts of matches, but realistically I still saw some of the same issues that have worried me about the United States since the end World Cup 2006 in this performance.
One thing I was overly pleased with was the outstanding play of Landon Donovan. For all the criticisms of Donovan from some quarters of the American soccer community, he continues to be hands down the best player the United States has produced in this particular generation. Those who criticize him and make up silly nicknames do not understand soccer in this country and the types of quality Donovan brings to the field.
Donovan’s set piece taking in the Poland match was reminiscent of his early days on the national team. Even better was to watch Donovan’s breakaway. While he didn’t finish the goal off, my point to so many critics of Donovan and of MLS in general has been consistent: Landon Donovan is more fit and has greater pace than almost any player on the planet. While many of these same fans are obsessed with speed and feel MLS is somehow inferior to leagues in Europe simply because it is slower paced (by that logic the Mexican league which is hands down better than MLS would be in an even lower tier because it is even slower than MLS) and by extension Donovan is inferior to any player in Europe need to watch the Poland match. Having been returned to midfield along side Clint Dempsey, the two played well off one another and linked together well with a rather inept striker tandem.
On his day nobody does it better than Donovan. The loudmouth critics can climb under a rock for now, as Landon Donovan has once again fired a statement across the bow as to his quality and pedigree. Thank goodness the US National Team, deficient in so many other areas has his services whenever needed.
- I’m pretty disappointed Bob Bradley continues to call Eddie Johnson into the squad and worse yet, starts him. I don’t care if he isn’t as disoriented at Fulham as many of us thought he would be. Johnson has now proven over the better part of three years he doesn’t belong in international football. Despite his pace the game moves too quickly for him and his absolute brain cramp in what should have been an easy goal is the final proof that he cannot hack on this level. You cannot keep calling someone in who has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that he cannot think himself through these situations.
- I know I’m going to catch hell for this but I really believe Heath Pearce is substantially better than Jonathan Bornstien. I’ve always thought that he had more quality but felt Pearce was mentally a mess. Now that Pearce has fought his way back into the Hansa Rostock setup after being told he’d never play again for the club and is now showing a technical skill and flair severely lacking a year ago, he’s got to be the first choice left back.
- Carlos Bocanegra had his best game for the U.S. since the 2003 Gold Cup.
- Oguchi Onyewu continued his strong recent form for both club and country with an outstanding game
- Good to see Josh Wolff back on the national team. I still would take Wolff in a heartbeat over Eddie Johnson or Taylor Twellman.
- The linkup between Michael Bradley and Rico Clark which was so poor against Mexico was outstanding today.
- To my co-host Dave Denholm: a reason exists why I like Eddie Lewis so much even at his advanced age. He still is a better crosser of the ball than anyone we have and proved once again today he has a better left foot than anyone we have. Great goal for Lewis and despite being almost 34, he has to be part of the qualifying campaign for the U.S.
- Didn’t like the new uniforms? Blame Nike. Check out this gem from Phil Mushnick about my favorite College Basketball team’s Nike uniform for the NCAA Tournament:
“So all these years you thought Miami’s school colors were green, orange and white. They are, even though yesterday its basketball team wore – What else? – its Nike-issue black uniforms.” ——-Phil Mushnick, NY Post 3/24/2008
In fact it’s not just Miami. Oregon, Florida, South Carolina and Duke also have black issued Nike uniforms for “big games” in Basketball while Florida State, Oregon and Georgia have black Nike issued uniforms for “big games” in Football. So we should have all seen this coming. At least Nike hasn’t developed the glow in the dark uniforms it did for Oregon Football yet for the US National Team!