MON, 3PM ET
AST1
SOU1
TUES, 2:45PM ET
MCFC
BAY
TUES, 2:45PM ET
SCH
CHE
TUES, 2:45PM ET
APO
BAR
TUES, 2:45PM ET
ATL
OLY
TUES, 2:45PM ET
PSG
AJA

Post Match Thoughts

In front of what must be regarded as one of the largest and most ruckus pro US crowds in sometime, the national team drew 0-0 with Argentina, who is currently ranked #1 by the odd formula that constitutes the FIFA World Ranking. After two successive matches where the performance was subpar to be charitable last night’s effort must be considered a step in the right direction. However, still much work needs to be done.

This match from my vantage point was more exciting than any match in the European Championships if for no other reason the lack of technical skill that the Americans posses save Landon Donovan and Freddy Adu creates bad giveaways and countless good scoring opportunities for the opposition. While the US played well, all eight teams that have played thus far in Euro 2008 have shown better technical skill and organization that the U.S. However, last night the US showed some of the flair going forward that has been missing for sometime, and more in the attack than all but two sides that have played in the Euros thus far.

The Bad:

  • While Michael Bradley did more to support the attack last night than in the previous two matches he also gave the ball away 8 times in the first half. Yes, eight times. That’s simply not acceptable.
  • Bob Bradley’s decision first not to start Freddy Adu and second not to bring him on until the 60th minute. How you can continue to leave your second best attacking player on the bench when you cannot score goals is beyond me.
  • Steve Cherundolo isn’t physical enough or at times quick enough to be effective at this level. It’s a shame because he is one of the very few Americans that respectable club in a top European league counts on game in and game out. But with Frankie Hejduk even approaching 34, still in such good shape I see no reason why Cherdundolo should play ahead of him right now.
  • I still don’t get the second yellow card for Pablo Mastroeni. The official game notes attribute the second booking as being for dissent. But Pablo said very little to the official after Mo Edu picked up his yellow. Given how light the ref was being at time on Javier Mascerano (who himself was sent off fifteen minutes later) the yellow card for Edu was at the very least inconsistent by the official.
  • Clint Dempsey needs time off. I’ve said it before and will say it again. Oh and Clint those fancy moves you try and make may work against Barbados but they will never work against Argentina or Mexico.
  • I don’t think Eddie Lewis has ever been comfortable with the idea of playing left back. Necessity has dictated the best US wide player play on the back line now in various points since 2005, but it seems like Lewis makes mistakes at the back he doesn’t make in the midfield and the bite he adds to the US attack crossing from a wide position also disappears with his defensive responsibilities.
  • DaMarcus Beasley is simply put not a starting wide player at this level. He continues to have no technique despite having played for PSV (he was probably too old when he went there to learn the “PSV” way) and makes some of the most baffling decisions on the ball. As far as I am concerned for country Eddie Lewis at 34 is still a much better winger. He can still get forward down the flank and center a great ball into the box. Beasley cannot due either with regularity. (I don’t want to argue Rangers vs Derby County: Beasley may be a better club player but Lewis is a better international right now)
  • ESPN in general. I love JP Dellecamara and am thankful he is finally the lead announcer for ESPN’s National Team Coverage. But the rest of the production is somewhat substandard and John Harkes is far more of a company man than he leads on, far less willing to criticize tactics and coaching decisions about players than Eric Wynalda or even Marcello Balboa was. Relegating Allan Hopkins to the work they used to give Heather Mitts is flat out insulting. Hopkins is one of the most knowledgeable people about the American game I have encountered and he is being absolutely wasted by the network. Stick him in the studio for heavens sake!

The Good:

  • Landon Donovan’s return makes all the difference in the appearance of the US attack. Donovan also is one of only two American players with the technical skill and quality to play against the likes of Argentina: Freddy Adu is the other. 100 caps could not be more deserved for the signature player of US Soccer.
  • Heath Pearce is turning into perhaps the best left back we’ve had, a position that has been a chronic problem for the US. Pearce gets ripped in other places but I am turning into a massive fan of his. He’s positioned well, is tough and simply put is getting the job done without much fanfare.
  • Freddy Adu may not play at Benfica right now but that is no longer an excuse to not start him. Lukas Podolski doesn’t exactly play every match for Bayern, yet he can score two goals in the European Championship opening match. Freddy Adu is right now the only thing standing between the US and almost certain embarrassment either before 2010 or in South Africa. Without Claudio Reyna and John O’Brien, Landon Donovan has nobody with technique and certain flair to play off of, if Adu doesn’t start.
  • Tim Howard: what more can you say?
  • Eddie Johnson continues to be a poor finisher but a good hold up player who find space and makes the right runs at the right times. So frustrating is Johnson because after continuously panning Bob Bradley for selecting him, I now see why, even if the bottom line hasn’t changed. Johnson has the smarts as far as space and holding the ball up to be useful but still lacks the technique and finishing to be successful.
  • Giants Stadium’s grass. Seriously, awesome job groundskeepers. Now get rid of the turf below it!

Player Ratings:

Tim Howard 9

Steve Cherundolo 4

Danny Califf 6

Oguchi Onyewu 6

Heath Pearce 8

Jay DeMerit 6

Frankie Hejduk NR

Eddie Lewis 6

Michael Bradley 3

Mo Edu 6

Pablo Mastroeni 7 (“Red Card” notwithstanding)

DaMarcus Beasley5

Clint Dempsey 3

Landon Donovan 8

Freddy Adu 8

Sacha Kljestan 6

Eddie Johnson 5

This entry was posted in Leagues: Major League Soccer, US National Team. Bookmark the permalink.

About Kartik Krishnaiyer

A lifelong lover of soccer, the beautiful game, he served from January 2010 until May 2013 as the Director of Communications and Public Relations for the North American Soccer League (NASL). Raised on the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the old NASL, Krishnaiyer previously hosted the American Soccer Show on the Champions Soccer Radio Network, the Major League Soccer Talk podcast and the EPL Talk Podcast. His soccer writing has been featured by several media outlets including The Guardian and The Telegraph. He is the author of the book Blue With Envy about Manchester City FC.
View all posts by Kartik Krishnaiyer →

14 Responses to Post Match Thoughts

  1. Phillip says:

    Quick question Kartik…

    Is it just me, or does it seem that regardless of who plays in the middle (Bradley, Edu, Clark) they play MUCH better when Pablo Mastroeni is in the game? All three of those guys seem to trust Pablo much more than they trust each other.

  2. Phillip says:

    Also… no mention of Landon’s terrible giveaways? He can’t just push the ball past world class players and expect to beat them. There were three or four times where Landon tried to just knock the ball 4-10 yards away from him thinking he could easily get to it.

  3. kartik says:

    Philip, you are 100% right. Pablo is a destroyer in there and it allows our other holding mid in the bucket to play get involved in the attack and not be responsible for breaking up as many opposition attacks and counters.

    I hope BB realizes this as we’d gone entirely too long with Pablo in the starting XI prior to yesterday.

  4. RT M. says:

    The ref really killed this one with the ridiculous red for Pablo.

    Freddy is a key going forward. He has injected life into what has otherwise been a downtrodden and dispirited squad. He has to start and play in an attacking role.

  5. elopingcamel says:

    More Freddy! More Freddy!

  6. POED says:

    YES!

    A NILL NILL DRAW

    WE ARE NOW WORLD CHAMPS.

    WE ARE THE BEST!

    BRADLEY IS A GENIUS

    Hss it ever occurred to you people we didn’t score a goal and Tim Howard had to make 7 first half saves, 3 of them simply beyond superman saves for us to even be in the match at halftime.

    Naturally you play better at home than away from home.

    Right now as far as I am concerned nothing has changed and we are still in big trouble.

    The scoreless streak is now at 290 minutes.

    That’s not good by any definition.

  7. Berlin says:

    Howard was tremendous. Bradley needs to go. Not because he insists on the ridiculous bucket when even his own son doesn’t play the position it forces him in, but because when Pablo got booted he just sat there and watched. He should have been in the linesman’s ear, throwing chairs out on the pitch Bobby Knight style. He’s lost the fire and so has his team. Next!

  8. Brian says:

    Here’s my thought/question on the Freddy Adu issue . . . is it possible that Bradley knows what he has in Freddy, so he’s choosing to bench him more to look at other players??

    That’s the problem with these friendlies, we almost have to think of them in the same light as NFL pre-season games, you can’t judge a team buy the first, second, or fourth game. The third game gives some insight, but not that much.

  9. bandeeto says:

    Soccer is not the NFL where each and every step of every play is planned, and choreographed, to the nth degree. Soccer requires familiarity, non verbal communication, anticipation, and much much more at much higher levels than American football.

    Kartik,
    In choosing Hejduck over Cherundolo it seems that you are picking a hard working player over a more skilled one. Hejduck is not, and never has been, quick. He’s a marathon runner with cleats on. Cherundolo, on the other hand, makes better decisions out of the back and seems to be more comfortable with the ball at his feet. To sum up, I’d pick the more skilled defender over the hard worker.

  10. Jeff says:

    We have so many problems right now it is not even funny.

    Where is the central midfielder that can hold the ball and slow the game down/dictate play against the opposition when we are on tough central american venues for qualifying?

    Where is the rock solid right sided fullback who won’t constantly lose his mark? Sorry guys,Cherdundolo nor Hejduk make me comfortable. Hejduk still being around tells us the state of our player poor.

    Where is the wide midfielders that can deliever a cross in to the 18?

    Eddie Lewis can do that but he’s going on 35.

    Beasley and Dempsey cannot and both are worse now than they were two years ago.

    Finnaly where is our finisher? Do we have one? What guarentee do we have that Altidore will be any better than the guys we have now like EJ and Twellman? We have none.

    I think Kartik is right when he said we may not qualify for 2010. Unless if CONCACAF is even worse than its been prior, I don’t see how we could.

  11. Kiwi Yank says:

    This performance was not acceptable even though we held Argentina without a goal.

    We needed to show more defensively. Argentina got far too many point blank chances in the first half that Howard had to save.

    I’m tired of hearing “oh we played better.”

    BULL SHIT

    IT’S NOT LIKE WE HAVE NEVER BEATEN ARGENTINA BEFORE.

    WE’VE BEATEN THEM AND WE’VE IN FACT SMOKED THEM.

    This defeatest mentality in US Soccer has to change.

    Kartik, I applaud you for the last few shows but in this post you seem to reverse field back to dumming down expecations and accepting simply not being food eneough.

    That’s not the American mentality. That’s not what made us the greatest nation on earth.

    We’ve been building for 20 years now.

    After 2002 we should have been in a position to take off but instead we let our unwillingness to embrace the successes of ours and the lessons from abroad and our general xenophobia among some cloud our development and right now we are plain horrible.

    Sven will make BB his perosonal bitch and when we lose Mexico to beat up on we have zilch left positive.

  12. Lee says:

    I too have run out of patience with Bradley.

    It seems we have gotten stale and player selection is now pre ordained.

    What happened to using the friendlies to try new players? What was the point of a 33 man provisional squad if the bulk of MLS based players were simply going to be dropped because Bradley himself has become a eurosnob?

    We need a fresh approach and new ideas. We don’t have to hire a foreign coach but we need a coach from outside the immediate circle of US Soccer.

  13. Ian says:

    If you play 8 or 9 guys at the back you can nill nill anyone.

    Bradley is even worse than Arena.

    We are sinking without a trace.

    Can you imagine we’ve gone from World Cup quarterfinalists to this in six years?

  14. Ian says:

    If you play 8 or 9 guys at the back you can nill nill anyone.

    Bradley is even worse than Arena.

    We are sinking without a trace.

    Can you imagine we’ve gone from World Cup quarterfinalists to this in six years?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>