How does everyone feel about this victory at home against El Salvador? Happy?, So-so?, Excited?, Maybe they could’ve done better? You may agree or disagree with what I have to say, but I think it’s needed to be said. Out of one boneheaded defensive lap that was started by Jonathan Bornstein and ended with Tim Howard over compensating the cross of the ball that was headed in by Christian Castillo in the 32nd minute I honestly thought the USA played a strong match and was hungry to correct that major mistake in their own area.
Once again Landon Donovan was in the middle of creating both US goals with a fabulous free kick in the 41st minute and a fantastic officiating job by the far side assistant as he saw Clint Dempsey was behind the defenders when the ball was played, beating El Salvador’s off-side trap. Within the two minutes of stoppage time in the first you have to give credit to Michael Bradley when the ball got deflected to him and was able to play a little keep away from the defenders till he passed it to Donovan and with a little room and using his right foot crossed the ball right into Jozy Altidore’s head and a fabulous shot off the noggin.
You can see some signs right now that Donovan is the creator of the chances, Dempsey is the rushing tank who can convert chances into goals, Charlie Davies is the speed demon who can out race and score with ease, while Altidore is the target man with alot of surprises. While you can see that at times the youth does struggle to convert, at least they are showing plenty that they are hungry enough to be the best this country can develop.
Defensively we know that Oguchi Onyewu was sorely and terribly missed out there as he was suspended with yellow card accumulation and thankfully he will be in the center of the backline down in Trinidad & Tobago this coming Wednesday. Tim Howard has shown to be a rock keeping the net & Jonathan Spector is strong patrolling the right side of the field on the backline. Yet once again something has gone wrong with the left back situation. Jonathan Bornstein has looked a bit off and has seemed to lose some confidence. I don’t know what’s been going on at Chivas-USA, but this isn’t the same Bornstein that was down with a C-side at the Copa America when he played a fabulous first half frustrating Lionel Messi till then Argentine Head Coach Alfio Basile was forced to switch Messi to the right side of the field to keep him away to start the second half. That half volley clearance was ugly and somehow you knew it wasn’t going to look good. I hate to say it but you knew that was going to be a very bad mistake.
But while the goal was the only horror show by the USA & they showed resilience to equalize and take the lead, once again El Salvador wasn’t the only opponent for the USA. Jose Pineda who was the referee has some explaining to do and I hope it’s a good one because he and the other on the field officials are from the same country that played Trinidad & Tobago on the same night. How is it possible that Altidore’s second goal of the night and the third goal of the match for the USA was taken away by Mr. Pineda when you saw no off-sides & no real foul to take it off the scoreboard? Carlos Pastana & Roberto Giron who were the referee’s assistants had an excellent match on off-sides calls, fouls & other things going on.
ESPN broadcasting this match on their classic channel showed excellent replays that Altidore was not offside when the ball was played, yet the other camera angles showed Clint Dempsey sliding down to pass the ball when #3 Marvin Gonzalez was intentionally putting himself into a situation where he hoped his tripping over Deuce would get the referee to blow the whistle and sadly that call took away a legit goal. Clint Dempsey was making an offensive play with the ball, while Gonzalez was playing the man and got that foul call to go El Salvador’s way. Let’s us not be so naive as the differential would’ve helped the USA catch up to Honduras but it really didn’t matter since they scored four on the Soca Warriors and gave up one. Pineda intentionally pulled the final nail out of El Salvador’s coffin to keep his precious Honduras at the top of the table. But still the most important thing is always this, the USA got three points and right now they are in the top three of the table to get the automatic bid into next summer’s World Cup.
But as we look ahead to this coming Wednesday’s match down at Port of Spain in Trinidad the table shows that the Soca Warriors are dead last. A wounded animal is dangerous than healthy & if this team wants to take them out quickly then it’s going to take about three quick goals in the first half to do the job. Take the crowd out of it early and make sure they never get back into it. Another three points is another step closer to make a return to South Africa next summer.