If you missed this match, you missed something special. The US with their backs against the wall in a hostile atmosphere came through with two incredibly skillful goals to draw in El Salvador 2-2. This match had everything for skeptic of football or the eurosnob who looks down on CONCACAF.
A great crowd, fired up home side and a talented away side made this an exciting match. I applaud those of you who went to support your local MLS teams tonight but pity the fact you couldn’t cheer our national side on in a critical qualifier, and hope you were able to DVR this game.
Tonight left us with so much to be proud of and yet so much to be concerned about. to quote Charles Dickens,” it was the best of times and the worst of times. ”
The truth is that this is a good result for the US. El Salvador now has gained two points at home in the Hexagonal, erasing a two goal lead in one match and coughing up a two goal lead in the other. Who said CONCACAF isn’t competitive? Oh, that was your local eurosnob so obsessed with England’s friendly with Slovakia or UEFA qualifying they hardly noticed this match was taking place.
- The second I found out Gooch was a scratch tonight I began to adjust my expectations. A draw on the road in qualifying given the absence of two of the US’ four best players is a good result.
- Bob Bradley’s tactics were simple and disturbing tonight. Bradley didn’t make adjustments either to his tactics at halftime and the US came out in the second half flatter than the first. Finally some adjustments were made which sparked the US, but the coaching was poor, and the comeback was thanks to the grittiness and determination of the players.
- Notice the Miami FC signage on the side of the pitch? I certainly did and believe it is because of Traffic Sports relationship as CONCACAF’s match promoters. I will be meeting with the Miami FC brass early this week and will ask about it, but as far as placement for promoting a club, those are some of the best ads I’ve seen in years. USL-1 had advertised in a similar fashion at another qualifier but with 11 club names scattered around the pitch it was hardly noticeable. Miami FC’s ads were much better done.
- Heath Pearce had a nightmare of a game on the left side of defense much as he did in Guatemala last August. He is clearly a better player at home than away from home.
- Sacha Kljestan was borderline awful in this game. I don’t want to get our MLS/USL fans upset but Kljestan and Brian Ching were the only two US players in action tonight who have never played outside MLS (Kljestan) or MLS and USL (Ching). They were also the two least effective American players on the pitch tonight. That could be a coincidence, or a sign of both domestic leagues stagnation.
- DaMarcus Beasley and Landon Donovan did some nice things in the first half to try and break down a stubborn El Salvador defense, but were unsuccessful. Same for Clint Dempsey early in the second half.
- Brad Guzan’s command of his box and brilliant saves kept the US from being three or four goals down when the comeback began.
- Jose Fransisco Torres had a huge influence over this match. He should be a regular at central midfield.
- Jozy Altiodre is almost un-markable in CONCACAF. Either his markers are too small, or less athletic than him. While he may be stuggling on the club level, that should not stop Bob Bradley from relying on him going forward.
- Franie Hejduk is still the one. The best US player in World Cup 1998 and one of the best in World Cup 2002 is still one of the best. His grit and heart personify US Soccer.
- Carlos Bocanegra as he so often is when Oguchi Onyewu is not there to cover for him was absolutely woeful at the back. Danny Califf played better than Bocanegra although he had some issues communicating with Brad Guzan.
- Michael Bradley gave the ball away too much today. That tends to be the pattern for Bradley on the road, while he plays brilliantly at home.