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CONCACAF World Cup Qualifiers

US Looks Shaky in Havana

Reuters Photo

Three points is three points I suppose. But tonight’s game unlike last months qualifier in Guatemala City has me very concerned about the state of play regarding the US Team. Against a side that in its own stadium last month gave up three relatively quick goals to Trinidad and Tobago, the US had to grind out a result again dependent on some clutch goalkeeping and quite frankly some mistakes by the Cuban team.

Right now the United States lacks the technical skill nor the clean finishing or awareness in counter attacking situations to ever put away the opposition. The bad giveaways by defensive midfielders continues to be a trademark of this team with its current lineup and the inability for the strikers to finish the chances created for them against respectable opposition is painful to watch. In the last twelve matches, the current set of US strikers, Brian Ching and Eddie Johnson have scored in only one match: the 8-0 rout of Barbados, while every US goal in the other matches has come from midfielders or defenders and typically off set pieces.

Today’s performance was substantially worse than the game many have criticized the US for in Guatemala City last month. Again thye most solid players were the keeper Tim Howard and the two center backs, Carlos Bocanegra and Oguchi Onyewu. The performances of DaMarcus Beasley and Mo Edu in particular were forgetable. Given Scotland’s loss today to FYR Macedonia in Skopke perhaps both players feature on one of the two big sides in the SPL because of the lack of Scottish talent, not because of their individual qualities. Beasley in particular is becoming less and less useful as a player as time goes on.

A word on the atmonsphere tonight: Give the Cuban players and supporters a lot of credit. Despite the political tensions which I am in particular familiar with because of where I live (South Florida) the event tonight was perfect except for the lighting, with a polite crowd, and some good sportsmanship among both sides. Football really can overcome the problems politicians and dictators cause.

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  1. eplnfl

    September 7, 2008 at 9:52 pm

    3 wins on the road! That says it all in my book. Now home for T&T. No doubt the defense saved the day but defense wins!

    True if we get to SA in 2010 we will need some real firepower, but the road to SA is paved by a strong man in the net and a rock solid line in front of him. That part of the game is looking good. Now if we can take the next step and have a midfield who can control the ball you will see the offense look a lot better and create chances for the offense.

    Looking forward to Wednesday night at Toyota Park.

  2. Lawrence

    September 7, 2008 at 6:40 pm

    This performance was worse than Guatemala, because this opponent struggled with Anguilla at home and then was killed by T&T.

    I like Kartik’s point about Vela and Gio with Mexico on the 2Gs the other day. Seriously, if qualifying in CONCACAF is such a grind why is Mexico starting two 19 year olds up top? Salcido and Guardado are both young as well.

    Honestly if the US were grouped with Honduras, Canada and Jamaica instead of Mexico, we’d be struggling to get out of the group playing like this.

    Serbia finished UEFA World Cup qualifying first last time without conceding a single goal. They finished last in the World Cup.

    Italy had to go to a playoff to qualify. They won the World Cup.

    In other words, qualifying is not a harbinger of how the World Cup goes and posting results from previous qualifying when we were grouped with Costa Rica or Mexico not Cuba or Guatemala is stretching statistics to defend a vision less coaching philosophy.

  3. Phillip

    September 7, 2008 at 6:16 pm

    And regardless of what you think another coach may do…

    how many coaches are going to throw out a lineup that consists of that many young players

    Altidore, Adu, Bradley, Edu, and Pearce are all under 25! Regardless of what you think, managers stick with the experienced players in these qualifiers.

  4. Safety120

    September 7, 2008 at 6:07 pm

    Well said Phillip….

    I’m not Bradley’s biggest fan (he’s way, way too conservative for my taste), but the man gets results.

  5. Phillip

    September 7, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    I think what most people are also missing in the incessant “I wanna see the kids!” cries is that…

    World Cup Qualifiers are a grind. You bring in your veterans to get you there and unleash the younger kids at the actual World Cup.

    Chances of Brian Ching and Frankie Hejduk being at the World Cup is around 20%.

    Chances of Jozy Altidore and Freddy Adu being at the World Cup is around 100%.

    Look at Cobi Jones….

  6. Daniel F. US Open Cup

    September 7, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    I think this was a great result against a side that we have no idea who they are. The field & stadium was fixed about a week before the match started. Sometimes you guys have to understand that just because we dominated Cuba here in the states, going there is a whole different ball of wax. The only time you know about a player from Cuba either in Baseball or Soccer is after they defect from the country. There is no domestic league in Cuba.

    I have to admit that seeing some pictures and scenes from Havana, it looks like a beautiful city and sadly it’s the control of Fidel Castro that makes me cringe for the people who live there.

  7. Stanley Villa

    September 7, 2008 at 2:02 pm

    When the Fed and Jack Warner get together to “fix” the qualifying groups in CONCACAF, do they do a good job or what? Cuba and Guatemala are just shockingly bad and two of our biggest foes out of these four, Mexico, Canada, Honduras and Jamaica are already going to be eliminated before the Hex. Unreal.

  8. Phillip

    September 7, 2008 at 12:55 pm

    2002 World Cup Qualifying: 2 wins, 2 draws, 3 losses on the road

    2006 World Cup Qualifying: 4 wins, 3 draws, 2 losses on the road

    So far… in two matches… two wins…

    More than likely… before this year… we would’ve found ways to lose these games

  9. Chop

    September 7, 2008 at 11:14 am

    Cuba didn’t apply pressure like Guatemala did and for that reason alone the US was in command in this match. How anyone can say the US played better in Guatemala is lost on me.

    It’s a bit disturbing that this team seems more comfotable in a Four Corners offense than simply attacking and putting pressure on the opponent.

    Bob Bradley is stifling this team with it’s ultra conservative tactics. It’s getting almost laughable.

    With that said, 6 road points is 6 road points. One has to think that the tempo and the urgency will increase with 3 of the next 4 at home. One would think that, but with Bradley in charge, I’m not so sure we won’t be seeing more of the same boring “keep it under control” soccer from the US.

  10. bandeeto

    September 7, 2008 at 7:17 am

    You’ve got good points. However, this type of finishing is USA’s mo. The fact that they came close today, but just missed, is the rule rather than the exception. Our horrible finishing is so common that I no longer get excited on breakaways. I used to, and still do for my club team. I just realized this as I was writing this post, and it made me sad. I need to go pet my dog for a while.

  11. Soccer Guru

    September 7, 2008 at 1:39 am

    To say I am dissapointed by the lack of purpose we played with tonight would be an understatement.

    But it is tough to argue with three valuable points.

  12. Larry

    September 7, 2008 at 1:21 am

    This was the worst performance yet under Bradley. The rain and pitch had something to do with it, but cannot be an over riding excuse for what was some terrible soccer.

    Maybe T&T will get the boys more motivated.

  13. Phillip

    September 7, 2008 at 1:21 am


    the grass was like 4″ long… it was pouring down rain… the field had holes every 3-5 feet….

    if dempsey doesn’t shank the breakaway…

    if ching just volleys that ball into the net instead of trying to bring it down…

    if beasley just puts the ball in the net instead of trying to put it far post for some unkown reason….

    it’s 4-0 instead of 1-0 and we’re tlaking about the team breaking out of their shell

  14. bandeeto

    September 7, 2008 at 12:29 am

    I am very glad that the US won tonight, but…

    1. It is disturbing to me how aimless the US, at times, seemed as a team. For large stretches of the match the US had the run of the pitch, with very little pressure, and what do they do. Pass the ball aimlessly. At times there was some good buildup, but no consistency. Am I the only one who is not satisfied with a national team which strives to do just enough?

    2. Some of the players seemed disinterested for large stretches of the match. Edu and Dempsey for example.

    3. It’s great that we’ve once again (finally) scored from the run of play. However, honestly, this was a lucky goal which resulted from poor defensive play by Cuba. All legitimate run-of-play goals were shanked… badly, and Cuba’s goalie was just so so. I’ve been replaying Beasley’s shank and see no reason for the shank. If Beasley’s defense is so great then play him at d-mid and put a real attacking/two-way mid in his place. Who? Holden, Alvarez, or Gaven just off the top of my head.

    To sum up: great we won, barely, against Cuba!

  15. Phillip

    September 6, 2008 at 10:15 pm


    maurice edu? worst performance ever for him? he was by far the worst player on the pitch for us.

  16. kevquinnc

    September 6, 2008 at 9:02 pm

    Central Il. sucks sometimes.

  17. kevquinnc

    September 6, 2008 at 9:01 pm

    I would prefer to join in a pub since I don’t get espn classic and I live in a land where soccer exists only for kids and girls.

  18. Johnathan Staring

    September 6, 2008 at 7:58 pm

    Just would like to invite those for the Cuba/USA Game to join us over on The Third Half chat.

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