United States 2-4 Czech Republic – Final Chance To Prove Yourself
Meh. Not exactly an inspiring performance.
Honestly this game was simply a chance for players on the fringe to prove their worth to Bob Bradley, and some may have, while some certainly didn’t.
Two of those players — Edson Buddle and Eddie Johnson — partnered each other upfront to start the match and had two very different evenings. While he didn’t score Buddle was consistently involved and showed a high work rate that had to impress the coaching staff. Johnson, on the other hand, was largely invisible and did nothing to improve his already slim hopes of grabbing a ticket to South Africa.
Puebla’s Herculez Gomez was the other striker competing for a ticket and made the ultimate argument in his favor when he turned in Clarence Goodson’s header across the goal. Goodson had somewhat of an up-and-down night when following a solid first half he collected an assist and commited an absolute howler which allowed the Czech Republic to score their third goal of the night.
While Oguchi Onyewu had a night to forget, getting embarrassed on the Czech Republic’s opening goal, I wouldn’t be shocked if he was on the 23-man roster, in fact, I’d be shocked if he wasn’t. Given his level of fitness Onyewu simply couldn’t be held to the same standards as the rest of the team tonight and when fit he is still the top defender in the player pool.
Two players that did themselves no favors are Jonathan Bornstein and Heath Pearce. Both left backs put in appalling shifts as Bradley continues to struggle to find a fit for the position. One of the two is going to wind up in South Africa and judging from tonight, Bornstein seems to be the lesser of two evils. Certainly defending will have to be a central focus of the remaining pre-World Cup camps.
Another fringe player, Maurice Edu, scored the opening goal of the night when he headed home Stuart Holden’s free kick but he also committed an error that allowed the Czechs to score their final goal of the night, though it is worth noting that he was playing out of position at this point.
Overall while the result was disappointing it did answer any remaining questions the coaching staff may have had about squad selection, and may have helped some bubble players, such as Gomez, find their way into the squad for South Africa.