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CONCACAF World Cup Qualifiers

US 3-0 T&T: Landon Donovan’s Masterpiece


Bob Bradley shook up the US lineup entering tonight’s must win qualifier in Nashville against Trinidad and Tobago. The squad responded with a 3-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago. But I will preface the analysis of the match with the fact that T&T created more chances than they should have considering Dwight Yorke was injured and the Soca Warriors without him are clearly the worst team in the Hexagonal. Additionally, a clear PK shout from T&T was rejected by the official after an obvious hand ball in the area. Had the Soca Warriors converted the penalty the score would have stood level at one all with about twenty five minutes to play.

It’s important to note the team the US beat did not qualify for the Gold Cup, with the likes of Grenada, Haiti and Guadeloupe qualifying ahead of them from the Caribbean. T&T is in the decline due to aging players and somewhat unimaginative tactics from Francisco Maturana.

This all having been said, Landon Donovan proved again tonight why many of us consider him the greatest field player the United States has ever produced. While players like Hugo Perez, Tab Ramos and Claudio Reyna have all been able to hold the ball in midfield for the US, Donovan is a master of improvisation and unlike many of his American team mates he is rarely ever devoid of ideas.

Donovan is a one of a kind footballer in American history. Today he played wide on the left side for the first time in his national team career and yet he excelled, embracing the new position and setting up his team mates who often times were out of ideas themselves on how to break down a weak T&T side. Donovan is simply the best our nation has produced and tonight was yet another masterpiece in his standout national team career.


  • Jozy Altidore’s hat trick was outstanding. He has the quality to finish what Donovan starts. But when forced to create on his own, he still lacks the imagination a great striker at the international level needs. No worries though as it almost pre-ordained that Jozy will get there eventually.
  • DaMarcus Beasley was once again woeful at a new position left back, and should be permanently dropped.
  • Michael Bradley was pushing too far up into the US attack in later stages of the first half and early stages of the second half, leaving gaping holes for Trinidad’s midfield to exploit. This allowed more counter attacking opportunities to develop than should have been allowed.
  • Carlos Bocanegra continues his poor play at center back often times being caught out of position on the counter attack.
  • Clint Dempsey was the second best player for the US today, putting in a workmanlike effort and serving as the linchpin on the midfield when Bradley was out of position.
  • The US played better in a new setup but not well enough to defeat Costa Rica, Honduras or Mexico on the road and more importantly not well enough to advance out of the group stage at a World Cup. Dramatic improvement is still needed, particularly at the back.
  • Mexico was crushed tonight at Estadio Olimpia versus Honduras. Carlos Costly and Carlos Pavon shredded Mexico and scored three goals to take a 3-0 lead when Mexico’s typical chippy and unsporting play took over. El Tri was rewarded with a PK on a clear dive and got a goal back there, but couldn’t mount another reply and lost 3-1.
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  1. Lars

    April 5, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    Again, it doesn’t meet the definition of a ponzi scheme. A product is received for the fee paid.

  2. Kartik

    April 5, 2009 at 10:14 am

    I know. I’m just saying it would be better for American footy if that happened. I don’t see it happening in a million years

  3. Jack

    April 5, 2009 at 4:55 am

    Kartik, there will never be promotion/relegation with 50 million dollar expansion fees. No owner would cough up that kind of money for a team with the immediate threat of relegation. I think there are lots of things that could/should be done differently with MLS but I think MLS owners are happy with running a ponzi scheme, which will cause a lot of pain for the league down the road when the league can’t rely on 50 million dollar expansion fees to operate in the black. I do believe that this topic is deserving of it’s own thread in the future.

  4. Tom

    April 5, 2009 at 3:36 am

    Dear Kartik:

    Please go away.


  5. Kartik

    April 5, 2009 at 12:43 am

    USSF and MLS HAVE TO PUT THE MONEY ASIDE AND DO THE BEST FOR OUR FOOTBALLERS. Canadian teams are only being accepted into MLS because of the money they bring in. Why should we help them? We have our own country, our own investors, keep them out of it. MLS should become a seller league for young American talent, instead of holding on dearly to the players (WHY didn’t they accept bids for Cooper?) In fact, they should make it American player only league, and all American manager league. I mean, it’s time MLS start catering to the football fan instead of the american sports fan. Get rid of the play-offs, it’s a disgrace and add promotion and relegation. I know you say it won’t be easy, and it won’t but slowly, one at a time, they can get done.

  6. Giovanni Paolo

    April 4, 2009 at 10:55 pm

    I don’t understand you guys trying to make it seem like you all know what you are talking about when it comes to football. Yes, the US will probably make the World Cup. But consider this. They recently took the Gold Cup but that is just a bs tournament because the only true competition is Mexico (btw your dominance of them still deserves respect) but think about it, Germany’s world cup you got last place, yes last place. You went to South America to Copa America and came back with another last place. The problem is not whether or not Donovan or Clint will carry the team, they are decent players. The problem is just “soccer” itself, it will never be successful here because there are no timeouts, there are no stats or RBI or Rebounds per game or blah blah blah. I mean, the US beat T&T and the newspaper (Daily News NY) didnt mention shit about it, isnt that disrespectful?. Dropping the name soccer and luring a player on Europe to come over and play here while on his prime. And pay him the money. It will be worth it.

  7. Joey Clams

    April 2, 2009 at 9:43 am


    We still don’t know what Donovan’s true or best position is. We don’t know what our best formation is. We have no left back. The answer at right back first played in a World Cup in 1998. The team on the field last night had no one who could play a decent dead ball. And the scoring comes from a guy sitting on the bench in the Spanish second division.

  8. Kartik Krishnaiyer

    April 2, 2009 at 9:23 am

    Honduras performance against Mexico was so dominant and convincing, I left the night feeling worse about our team than I came into the night. As Joey Clams mentions Bradley still is using the bucket and playing too many guys out of position. In a hostile road atmosphere that will not work.

    Truthfully as poorly as Mexico has played, the US is unlikely to get points from the corresponding fixtures: at Honduras will be a loss as will at Mexico. The real question is whether Mexico will drop points against El Salvador. For some reason, I doubt it. So seven points owes itself to a soft opening schedule more than a sign of our superiority.

  9. Joey Clams

    April 2, 2009 at 8:53 am

    And the team that took the field against Czech had no right midfielder.

    We can’t have that anymore. Put Donovan in the hole as part of a diamond and consider sitting your son, Bob. Or is the empty bucket all about accomodating Mikey?

  10. Joey Clams

    April 2, 2009 at 8:51 am

    The problem with Beasley is that he faces competition at his true position. The problem with the team is that Bradley is overly true to incumbents, as was Arena. Is Beasley as three World Cup player? Of course, he isn’t. He was a daring but smart choice in 2002 and he was effective. It’s time for more daring choices. And how about a bit of poise in the central defense? Or shall Bradley reward Bocanegra just because he didn’t really turn to anyone else?

    Hey, Bob: Identify the best American center half out there and go with him. OK? And don’t be afraid to use left backs at left back.

    The 2006 team had no dedicated right sided midfielder and no dedicated left back because Arena didn’t have the heart to cut O’Brien, Lewis, Convey or Beasley. He brought two decent guys, Albright and Olsen, who were way over their heads. He refused to start the most in-form player, Dempsey.

    Pick the right guys, Bob. Use the right guys.

    I’m sorry but putting Donovan and Beasley on the left reeks of cluelessness.

  11. Lars

    April 2, 2009 at 8:02 am

    Didn’t get to watch the game. Spent most of the night watching Chile and Uruguay. One sided reffing cost Chile a chance at the win, but they eeked out the draw they needed to avoid being surpassed by Uruguay.

    In other news, Argentina lost 6-1 to Bolivia. Who woulda thunk?

  12. eplnfl

    April 2, 2009 at 7:39 am

    Eric, right on Beasley, he had a different role last night and an excellent header on net. Watch his game film and you will see a better game then you saw on TV.

    No doubt a great game by Landon Donovan. We have for years asked him to do too much as the only offensive threat on a consistent basis. We saw last night that in the context of a team offense with the defense having to control a player like Altidore that Donovan will shine and lead the US effort.

    I thought the opening comments where a bit harsh on the American team. Except for a slow spot at the start of the 2nd half The US were in absolute control. The score at halftime should of been 3-0 and game over. Yes, I was unhappy at the 60 minute mark but it’s a 90 minute effort and the USA was excellent and it had to be. On to South Africa!

  13. kyle

    April 2, 2009 at 5:02 am

    I still think we lack the creativity to break down teams. How many times did we try long balls into the box? Are centerbacks do not have the skill to push forward with the ball or distribute creatively. Also what does it say about are talent pool that it is either Heath Pearce at left back or Damarcus Beasley.

  14. Eric

    April 2, 2009 at 2:06 am

    Knock on wood, pre-ordained seems true. I haven’t been as excited about a US player since 02, with Donovan, Beasley and Mathis, as I was after seeing Jozy play. As long as he has a Donovan or an Adu to work with him, he should become a great player for whoever he plays for.

    Beasley didn’t look that bad to me. A few times he was heavily involved in some nice interchanges only to be let down when other players mishandled his passes in the box. He did get burned quite a few times, but he played end to end, literally. Additionally, Beasley did something very few US players can. He beat players with the ball, several times. Even if you don’t like Beasley as a starter, I don’t think you can drop him entirely from the squad.

  15. Jack

    April 2, 2009 at 12:23 am

    How does Adu not even make the bench for either game? I think Bob Bradley has sent a strong message that if Torres is available, Adu won’t even make the bench. Bob Bradley can get away with this when we play concacaf competition but when we are in the world cup I think we will need Adu to help break down opposing defenses. After tonights performance Altidore is clearly our best finisher at striker and needs to be starting from here on out. I don’t think Bob Bradley sees Adu as someone even making his bench come time for the world cup. Unless there are some more changes I don’t see this team doing much in the world cup.

  16. Kartik

    April 1, 2009 at 11:20 pm

    btw, the day gets better as Honduras scores again to make it 3-0, but mexico has just scored on a penalty.

  17. Kartik

    April 1, 2009 at 11:18 pm

    I think that’s a bit too harsh. I’m, of course, not jumping on the “bob is the bet coach ever boat”, but the formation was well tailored to the situation. Beasley showed his attacking instincts, but his one on one defending was pretty awful, it must be said. I think this is a well-balanced formation, and probably the most attacking we’ll see under Bob, which is a shame, because it really wasn’t too attacking, T and T simply handed us the space. If we switch Torres for a (solid) Mastroeni, find a decent leftback, and get Adu on the bench at the very least, we’ll have a decent team

  18. Arnie

    April 1, 2009 at 11:18 pm

    Ah, Landon. I think that his sixth sense for soccer is better than any I know, but it has taken him 7-8 years to finally figure out how to effectively play with everyone else that DOESN’T have the same instinct. Clearly, he has figured it out.

    Good things are coming for USSF.

  19. Phillip

    April 1, 2009 at 11:03 pm

    I like the moves Bob made tonight.

    Mastroeni added that physicality that was needed in the midfield to deal with the strength of the TandT team.

    Beasley had the speed to not be burned every time by Richards… though he was burned 3 times.

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