Bob Bradley shook up the US lineup entering tonight’s must win qualifier in Nashville against Trinidad and Tobago. The squad responded with a 3-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago. But I will preface the analysis of the match with the fact that T&T created more chances than they should have considering Dwight Yorke was injured and the Soca Warriors without him are clearly the worst team in the Hexagonal. Additionally, a clear PK shout from T&T was rejected by the official after an obvious hand ball in the area. Had the Soca Warriors converted the penalty the score would have stood level at one all with about twenty five minutes to play.
It’s important to note the team the US beat did not qualify for the Gold Cup, with the likes of Grenada, Haiti and Guadeloupe qualifying ahead of them from the Caribbean. T&T is in the decline due to aging players and somewhat unimaginative tactics from Francisco Maturana.
This all having been said, Landon Donovan proved again tonight why many of us consider him the greatest field player the United States has ever produced. While players like Hugo Perez, Tab Ramos and Claudio Reyna have all been able to hold the ball in midfield for the US, Donovan is a master of improvisation and unlike many of his American team mates he is rarely ever devoid of ideas.
Donovan is a one of a kind footballer in American history. Today he played wide on the left side for the first time in his national team career and yet he excelled, embracing the new position and setting up his team mates who often times were out of ideas themselves on how to break down a weak T&T side. Donovan is simply the best our nation has produced and tonight was yet another masterpiece in his standout national team career.
- Jozy Altidore’s hat trick was outstanding. He has the quality to finish what Donovan starts. But when forced to create on his own, he still lacks the imagination a great striker at the international level needs. No worries though as it almost pre-ordained that Jozy will get there eventually.
- DaMarcus Beasley was once again woeful at a new position left back, and should be permanently dropped.
- Michael Bradley was pushing too far up into the US attack in later stages of the first half and early stages of the second half, leaving gaping holes for Trinidad’s midfield to exploit. This allowed more counter attacking opportunities to develop than should have been allowed.
- Carlos Bocanegra continues his poor play at center back often times being caught out of position on the counter attack.
- Clint Dempsey was the second best player for the US today, putting in a workmanlike effort and serving as the linchpin on the midfield when Bradley was out of position.
- The US played better in a new setup but not well enough to defeat Costa Rica, Honduras or Mexico on the road and more importantly not well enough to advance out of the group stage at a World Cup. Dramatic improvement is still needed, particularly at the back.
- Mexico was crushed tonight at Estadio Olimpia versus Honduras. Carlos Costly and Carlos Pavon shredded Mexico and scored three goals to take a 3-0 lead when Mexico’s typical chippy and unsporting play took over. El Tri was rewarded with a PK on a clear dive and got a goal back there, but couldn’t mount another reply and lost 3-1.