I felt like I was watching my favorite Premier League side Arsenal Saturday night. The United States built a 2-0 advantage over Mexico in the Gold Cup final before coughing up four goals. It was an epic collapse and now it is time to look at what went wrong for the US.
The problem is simple, and it is the same problem that has plagued Arsenal the last few seasons. The central defenders are not good enough to play at an international level. Goodson and Bocanegra just do not have the speed to cover players like Giovani Dos Santos and Andres Guardado.
To be fair, Bocanegra was forced to move from left back to center back after the 2-1 loss to Panama in the group stage. Goodson is a decent center back but struggles against the top teams. The United States need to develop a couple strong, agile center backs before 2014 or we could be in big trouble.
Tim Howard did not have his best game last night. He was beaten near post for the first goal on a strike from Pablo Barrera. If you’re a keeper, you need to cover that near post and force a tougher shot towards the far post. Dos Santos scored a cracker of a goal for Mexico’s fourth of the night. Howard was unable to secure the ball after dashing out towards Dos Santos. The back four did allow Dos Santos to get behind them but Howard should have been better.
United States allowed Dos Santos so much time and space on the ball. He was running free all over the US half of the field. Bob Bradley should have had a talk at halftime to his defenders about this. Adjustments should have been made to the back four after the first half, but instead Bradley focused on offensive substitutions.
Steve Cherundolo’s absence was glaring. After his injury, Bradley was forced to bring on Jonathan Bornstein early on in the match. Bornstein played poorly but no one expected anything different. He had not played at all during the tournament and was very rusty.
On a bright note, Eric Lichaj proved himself in this tournament. He is an attacking force down the wing. Lichaj has a great work rate, and he has shown why Aston Villa continue to stick with him.
Tim Howard was very upset after the match: “CONCACAF should be ashamed of themselves. I think it was a [expletive] disgrace that the entire post-match ceremony was in Spanish. You can bet your ass that if we were in Mexico City, it wouldn’t be all in English.”
I, on the other hand, was cursing after the match but it was not at CONCACAF. It was at the poor defending by the US men’s national team.