Guadeloupe 0-1 USA: Missed Chances Overshadow Jozy’s Blast

Jozy Altidore, from 2009, via European PressPhoto Agency

The US Men’s National Team knew they needed a quality performance against a lesser side on Tuesday night. They dominated the match, but only managed a 1-0 victory over Guadeloupe, after squandering countless chances to put the match out of reach.

Livestrong Sporting Park in Kansas City was filled to capacity, and the gathered watched Bob Bradley’s men advance to the knockout stages of the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup. Entering the tournament as the favorites in Group C, a substandard match against Panama had put them in a precarious position heading into the Guadeloupe match. The victory assured them of a disappointing 2nd place in the group.

Jozy Altidore netted the lone goal for the Yanks, a 25 yard strike that had eyes for the upper right corner. It was the second goal of the tournament for the forward who plays club football for Turkish side Bursaspor. While his outstanding shot set the tone for the entire match, the storyline became the number of wasted chances by the Americans.

The best chance to double their lead came in the 76th minute, as 2nd-half substitute Alejandro Bedoya laid a perfect pass to Clint Dempsey inside the 6. The goal was all but certain, but as Dempsey tried to control and guide to the net, a Guadeloupan defender swept in to clear the ball from his feet. The chance typified night for the Americans, who managed nine shots on goal and many quality chances inside the 18 yard area, yet the only tally came off Altidore’s long-range missile.

The US side had a few personnel changes from the Panama defeat. The most notable change was Carlos Bocanegra moving to center halfback from the left. This meant Tim Ream was not in the side for this match. He was replaced in the starting XI with Eric Lichaj, the Aston Villa fullback who finished the 2010-11 campaign on loan at Leeds United. The only other change came up front, with San Jose forward Chris Wondolowski getting the start in place of New York’s Juan Agudelo.

Tactically, the one large change that I noticed was that the duties in the double-pivot had shifted. In this match, Jermaine Jones appeared to take responsibility for more of the incisive passes into space. In the Panama match, one concern had been the poor passing regimen laid by Michael Bradley. In last night’s match, Jones showed a knack for playing through balls and also finding open teammates in the area.

With all of the positive play that came from the US, the scoreline still frustrates American fans. It’s easy to draw a conclusion that the current version of the National Team lacks the killer instinct to put teams away. There is a stark contrast between the way the Mexican National Team has easily dispensed of every one of their inferior competitors, and the US squad which seems to struggle in rising above weaker opponents. Last night’s Canada-Panama match was a classic example, where Panama was clearly not as strong as the Yanks made them look on Saturday. It took a late equalizer for the Canal Men to assert themselves as Group C victors with 7 points, one ahead of the US.

For the US, they now will face Group B winners Jamaica in the quarterfinals, to be held at RFK Stadium in Washington DC. The match will be played on Sunday afternoon at 3 PM, and will be televised on FOX Soccer. The other match from DC will feature Panama and El Salvador, Group A third place finishers. If the US can overcome the Reggae Boyz, they will likely have a chance at redemption against Panama in the semifinals. Perhaps the best news from last night’s match was that no cautions were given to the US. Six Americans were in danger of a match ban if carded last night. Instead, their disciplinary record will now be wiped clean, and Bradley will enjoy the full complement of players against Jamaica.

24 thoughts on “Guadeloupe 0-1 USA: Missed Chances Overshadow Jozy’s Blast”

  1. I know Dempsey is a good player, but that missed opportunity 12 inches from the goal line typifies so well the reason that I have never liked him: Sometimes his attitude sucks. Bad.

    There was absolutely no reason not to one-time that ball with the left or the right foot. He was dicking around like he always does and it could have cost us the points.

    It’s not all the time. But I notice it gets worse the longer a game goes on, and it’s especially crappy when BB moves him into that striker position after he takes Jozy off the field.

    Bottom line is if an attacking player can’t finish because of attitude or just because he’s having a bad game, it’s time to give him a rest and give someone else a chance.

    Also, is it just me or is Kljestian a lot better than he used to be?

    1. I absolutely hated that Kljestan was named to the squad, but he has impressed me. He’s not exactly world class [understatement of the century], but he made the most of his appearances.

  2. The misses Dempsey had last night were mind boggling it was like he was on the take when he didn’t score with no one in front of goal in the 76th minute. Are we sure he doesn’t have any debts to pay back in England, I kid. That shot by Jozy was amazing would have been cooler if Ian Darke was annoucing the match when that happend. I just hope Jozy shows up against Jamacia.

    I wonder if we had lost last night would the USSF have fired Bradley?

    1. How long will we continue this coach?

      Surely with the population size and financial support this national team can develop a more consistent organization and playstyle, as well as find a starting 11 that is quick and in shape, and strikers that create action in thier vacinity?

  3. First half was splendid, if not for some poor finishing by Dempsey and truly fantastic saves by Guadalupe’s goalie. Passing was sharp. Transitions through the midfield were excellent. The energy of the team was great.

    In the second half we languished and I’m not sure why. Jones, Lichaj, Cherundolo, and Donovan were the only players who I felt really gave it everything they had to the very end. Dempsey’s misses? Well, sometimes it’s just one of those days. But I hope he learned his lesson on the value of putting it away instead of playing with the ball in front of an open goal.

    I give us a 40% chance of winning against Jamaica, and a 10% chance of beating the likes of Mexico if we make it that far. We just don’t have enough consistency.

  4. Wondolowski needs to be dropped from the national team. permanently.

    Dempsey’s misses will propel him to play much stronger against Jamaica. Wondo’s misses just reiterated how completely inept he is.

    1. I disagree, Wondo was good last night. Granted he missed the equalizing sitter against Panama, but he was making good, dangerous runs all night.

      1. Agreed, his performances have been better than Agudelo so far. He is much better at getting into a good position. He just needs to settle his nerves a bit.

  5. Earl, you seem like a very nice, well-meaning young man, despite our last skirmish. And you also seem to have a good grasp of the game — more tactically oriented than I would like, but still good. That said how can you continue to ignore the obvious deficiencies of BB’s team!!! You make comments like, “With all of the positive play that came from the US, the scoreline still frustrates American fans.” My god man!!! We were playing Guadalupe, not Germany. Jeff Maurer in the Wash Post blog raised the issue that no one has even approached — what was it with all the long balls?? Guadalupe is an inexperienced minnow yet time and again they ran rough-shod through OUR midfield. You talk about Jones’ “incisive passes”. How about their crisp passing through the midfield which unfortunately for them consistently fell apart when they approached our box. They tried to do too much with the ball but when it comes to judging which team looked more comfortable on the ball, it had to be Guadalupe!! Defensively they gave us acres of space and yet we had to resort to long balls constantly. J Jones did indeed have some nice passes but if you give ME that much time and space I could do it too. NO, I don’t require that you constantly say “this team sucks” but a little constructive criticism is certainly in order — and not just on the finishing. I can actually live better with that than the overall lack of skill.

      1. The good thing about longballs is you only need one pass to succeed. If you try to play like Spain then you need 20 passes to succeed. I though Jones long incisive passes were a high point for the US. I agree with Short Passes that GPE’s chances have been ingnored- this team could easily have got a few goals on us. We are still weak defensively, especially in the first halves of games.

        1. T o T — a few questions: first — are you serious?; are you an English coach? or do you have your US “A” license?; does the term loss of possession ring a bell?; does the term “beautiful game” sound familiar?

          1. Short passes, in answer to your questions. Somewhat, no, no (do you have an “A” liscense?), yes, yes.

            When I was growing up, the trend was to play like Brazil; now everyone tries to be Barcelona or Spain. I didn’t think Spain was good to watch, too many short passes in the midfield with too little actual penetration. They were the lowest scoring world cup winner ever (6 goals in 7 games). I agree Barcelona are marvalous, but most teams don’t have those players. But it is also fun to watch quick counter attacks and deep penatrating balls to fast strikers and outside midfielders.

            The Rapids for years had this coach Fernando Cliejvo, his teams were all about possession so they never tried to counter attack; whenever a player won the ball he’d turn to his own goal and find an open defender to pass to and keep possession. IT WAS SO BORING! Variety of tatics and players is one thing that makes this game great to watch.

        2. Overusing the longball is lazy soccer. It might be effective at times like a lot of EPL teams that use it, but it is not entertaining to watch and just shows a lack of skill. Kicking it down the field and sprinting to make a shot is crappy soccer, or “physical” play as some people would say it. Entertaining football is passing and possession, technique, tactics, and beauty.

          1. But don’t you think risk is also entertaining? A long cross field ball can be thing of beauty, but sometimes it is intercepted and their goes your possession. A quick counter attack can also be great to watch. Put aside the persona and celebrity, the young Beckham with ManU was a great player to watch, those long pin point balls, the swerving crosses- weren’t those “longballs?”

            One of my favorite US goals of all time was the one against Spain in the confederation’s cup. I think it was 4 total touches between the Spanish corner and the back of the opposite net.

          2. So…. Passing it back to a defender and trying to create something is boring, but a long ball (no matter who does it) is entertaining? I would disagree with that a million times. A long ball is a good tool for anyone to use once in a while when appropriate, but relying on it is VERY boring and leads to garbage play. Maybe this explains my disconnect with everyone’s love affair with English football.

  6. I did not say it does not matter who does it, I am the only one in this discussion who has named actual players and teams. And yes, repetition of anything, especially if it is not effective, is boring.

  7. Long ball scored Guatemala’s only goal against Mexico. I don’t harp on any tactic, besides deplorable dirty tackles. It’s a team’s prerogative how they play. It’s about players, and it’s about your opposition. Barcelona was on track to lose to a defensive-minded Arsenal until a suspicious 2nd yellow put the Gunners down a man. It’s this type of narrow-minded thought that says a team like Inter Milan in 2010 was illegitimate for their defensive pragmatism. Fine, that’s your choice. Possession against a lesser team should be a necessity, I’ll give you that. But if you try to “out-Barca” Barca, you’re going to learn a tough lesson in frustration and losing. That’s why Arsenal played defensively against them, and might have won.

    1. I like defensive-style play too. I just don’t care for the overuse of long balls. Not everybody needs to play like Barca, nor would I want them to. Arsenal are a skilled team, and even though they didn’t play like Barca, they also didn’t use long balls. I don’t think that is narrow-minded at all to like more skill in my play, and less “physical” play as people like to call it.

      1. I think we’re on the same wavelength. Direct play is a tactic, and can be somewhat effective if you have size up front.

        There is a mixture in most matches, realistically. You end up having the Barca’s and Stoke’s who go to a high percentage of one or the other, but most teams are most effective when they do vary from their normal route of attack in order to keep a team honest. Look at the 1st US goal vs Jamaica. Even with all of the nice through balls that were being played, the goal was scored because Bradley played a lob cross to Lichaj on the wing. It wasn’t exactly what they had done, but it spread out the defense which allowed for a clearer shot for Jones on the rebound.

        My point is…sometimes you have to keep the opponent on their toes and not allow them to get comfortable playing specific defensive tactics.

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