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Gold Cup

USA 2-2 Haiti: Smiles All Around in Turf Debacle (UPDATED)


With a desperate Haitian team coming to Foxborough to face a USA “C” team any result was on the table. But sadly when a match of this magnitude is played on artificial turf, it is difficult to make evaluations about the play and specific players with much certainty. While fans of MLS or USL often defend turf, those games are played at a slower pace which is less affected by the odd bounces of turf and are quite frankly more often than not, less important than this game was to the Haitians.

The USA started about as well as could be expected given the makeshift lineup and the odd bounces of what appeared to be a worn out carpet in Massachusetts. Stuart Holden set Davy Arnaud up beautifully with a vintage through ball which Arnaud took calmly with his weaker foot to score the type of goal American struggle to finish typically at the international level.

Haiti seemed to lack composure all game long and couldn’t find their feet on the turf. Their squad made up of USL players and some semi professionals showed little quality or tactical awareness but some freaky moments of great skill. USL players Fabrice Noel, James Marcelin and Leonel Saint Preux all played key roles for the Haitians.

Bob Bradley got his tactics almost perfectly today. His substitutions were outstanding as well. But the turf cannot be controlled by the coaches. The US achieved a remarkable result tonight playing with reserves against a Haitian “A” side and yet doing what it needed to do to win the group. This will as always be construed as a hateful statement, but MLS is simply not a good enough league to take an entire team of player from and expect to have any success internationally.

As I was reminded yesterday in the press box at FIU Stadium, Canadian media and fans are concerned about having too many MLS based players in their first team, and despite the remarkable success of Toronto FC in selling the league to the Canadian public, many fans of the Canadian National Team would like to see as few MLS based players on their team as possible. When you consider Canada has missed the last five world cups while the US has made each of the last five, you understand reliance in any form on MLS players is simply something Bob Bradley isn’t going to do in a serious match that the US needs to win. Thus Bradley cannot in any way be held responsible for the results tonight in what he clearly saw as a throw away match.

Bradley set up his team well and gave them excellent tactical guidance. That is all he can do with a group of players who had, at most three starters who would even be selected in a 23 man squad for the USA in a serious match. I have seen Haiti in person as many times as I have seen the USA in person since the 2006 World Cup (5 times each in both cases). For many an MLS/USMNT fan to simply assume any assorted group of MLS based USA players are more talented than the Haitians smacks of ignorance. I quite frankly am tired of American fans assuming any group of players from a poorer CONCACAF nation can be beaten by a C squad or a squad of players with little or no experience outside the relative bubble of MLS. As it turns out I think Haiti’s side yesterday may actually be more talented than the side the US put out (this is based on actually having seen this Haitian team in person with the same players a few times) but home advantage combined with a good tactical setup by Bradley given the team selection salavged a draw for the USA, which after all was the result the US needed to win the group.

As readers of this site know, I do not believe that there is a huge gap between MLS and USL. Playing a group of MLS players on an unnatural surface against a team whose top players are from USL is bound to result in a tight game. Throw in an inexperienced goalkeeper for the USA and four players making their first ever international appearance and a draw was always in the cards.

While it will be noted by skeptics that the USA had only previously drawn one match in the Gold Cup group stage, remembering most of those matches as I do (in fact having attended several of them) the US had never fielded such a weak team against a decent side who could advance with a draw before. So this was a game that based on the squad selection and the level of the opposition that was always going to be difficult to win. I believe this is the type of result in a competitive match that Haiti may need to build their program for the 2014 World Cup cycle. Surrounded as I am by Haitians in South Florida, I have taken a keen interest in their football fortunes.

Regular readers of this site know that I am very critical of the USMNT even in wins if the performances based on the circumstances are subpar. I still maintain the first two matches in the Confederations Cup with the US playing an “A” squad were embarrassing.  The 1-0 wins the US recorded at Cuba and Guatemala last year were also poor. But this Haitian team needing a result facing a “C” US side is not an equal circumstance to those matches previously mentioned. This game is quite frankly a throw away especially when played on such a horrible surface.

The US left it late, which is the one concern. Were it not for an unfortunate Haitian touch and the magic of Stuart Holden one of the most skilled Americans currently in MLS, Haiti would have achieved a momentous upset. But the US did what it had to do to win the group as did Haiti to advance. Credit all around for this one, except to the Krafts who insist on keeping turf at Gillete Stadium.

Other Thoughts:

  • Being a star in MLS doesn’t translate to anything when it comes to international play. Of the players who have never played club football outside the US in the current player pool, only Jimmy Conrad, Brian Ching and Davy Arnuad are worth any sort of consideration after this tournament ends.
  • Michael Parkhurst looked poor in the Olympics last year and has looked completely lost in this tournament. His transition from a 3 man backline which he is used to playing to a 4 man backline accounts for some of the difficulty.
  • Without Jimmy Conrad, the US loses, perhaps handily today. I know Conrad is getting long in the teeth but his work ethic, tactical discipline and general good natured personality as well as World Cup experience need to be incorporated for the next year by Bob Bradley.
  • Kenny Cooper looked poor but the technically gifted striker struggles often on turf in MLS.
  • Stuart Holden has the energy, skill and enthusiasm to make the World Cup squad. But he still makes some mistakes similar to his fatal one last year in the Olympics. My advice (sorry Dynamo fans), get to Europe in January and convince Bob Bradley that you deserve a World Cup spot.
  • The Minnesota Thunder have been a disgrace thus far in USL-1 this season, but Leonel Saint-Preux tonight showed that the Thunder have one player with an incredible amount of class on their squad. Too bad for the Thunder he’ll be gone for another week at least with Haiti’s advancement.
  • James Marcelin played a key role for the Puerto Rico Islanders in the CONCACAF Champions League and is now using that experience to bring Haiti to a new level.
  • Luis Robles looked confused and didn’t organize his backline well. Too bad, because he’s a good keeper with great instincts. But today was not his night.

















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  1. ODST Recon

    July 16, 2009 at 10:05 pm

    USA cant beat Haiti that easy

  2. Terry

    July 14, 2009 at 8:24 pm

    Yankee Hooligan, perhaps he simply wasn’t good enough. Guy who come back to MLS at a young age, aren’t good enough. They aren’t mentally strong enough or whatever. Look, I happen to agree that the coaching in USL for whatever reason is better than MLS. Would you rather have Adrian Heath coach your player or Curt Onalfo?

    Yankee Hooligan has more in common with Kartik than he thinks. Kartik likes to blame any attack on the USMNT or MLS even if it is done by people who want to see the products improve as being done by the English.

    We can learn alot from English coaches like Adrian Heath who have actually had some success in Europe. But Kartik says any hiring of an English coach or signing of a British player, or calling of the game by a British broadcaster (Kartik is the only person who hates Derek Rae which in itself should condemn him to a mental institution- his problem with Rae was the brutal honesty Rae has portrayed about MLS’ level of play in Press Pass and other ESPN shows- everyone else thinks Rae is the best) is somehow a loss of our self respect and self esteem.

    Kartik, and Yankee Hooligan you answer why you hate the Brits so much? Kartik is at it again in his all star post- why would the British press report on pre season friendlies?

  3. Yankeehooligan

    July 14, 2009 at 7:05 pm

    Szetela’s trip overseas has gotten him squat and now he might be coming home. Should he stay and get some of that wonderful UEFA licensed coaching during practice sessions with Santander’s women’s team.

  4. Yankeehooligan

    July 14, 2009 at 7:04 pm

    For the record I’m a former soccer journalist who covered world football for two global soccer web sites over the past 10 years, but whatever, I’ll take my “angry rants” elsewhere. For a site called, there seems to be a blatant bias and a hope-it-fails attitude toward MLS here. Sigh. I’m not looking for MLS cheerleaders. I’m as critical of their missteps as anyone, but too many soccer fans in this country have adopted the European (particularly the British) attitude that anything made in America is subpar. It’s the same attitude that American basketballers had toward their foreign counterparts until they started getting drilled in world competitions. Bottom line: the U.S. has a better national team today than it did prior to MLS. The league doesn’t deserve all the credit, but they do deserve some.

  5. Savannah Silverbacks Fan

    July 14, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    The fact that we even have the MLS/USL discussion tells me all we need to know about MLS, which should be all means miles ahead of USL.

    It’s salary/team structure and the leadership of the league. Kartik can claim USL produces no young talent to appease the angry rants of Yankee Hooligan, but then why did so many MLS teams at the end of last year feel the need to raid USL rosters to get the likes of Janicki, Kandji, Khumalo and Mbuta if USL produces no talent? If USL produces no young talent, Mr. Kartik, why are you applauding the performance of the Haitian national team with a largely USL oriented talent base? Did Charlie Davies develop in MLS or a USL league? Why would Everton sign Anton Peterlin instead of some young MLS talent (Stuart Holden perhaps?) if USL produces no young talent and the talent is in MLS?

    What happened to that list you posted a few weeks ago, K with all the current and former USL guys in the Gold Cup? A few weeks of being bashed by MLS fans, most of whom know zero about world football and get defensive every time anything critical about their league is mentioned has you scared to lose readers. Normally you are on the money, and this was a good initial post game summary of USA-Haiti, but now in your desire to appease angry readers you are spinning out of control. Heck, you even went through the impact of USL on the Gold Cup during your USL live broadcast the other day.

    I agree with Kartik on the coaching. You are very biased or insular if you think someone with a UEFA “A” license is simply a better coach than one of these MLS guys whose qualification like Jason Kreis was being on the team when the coach was fired. Do you know how hard it is to get a UEFA license? Do you realize how much harder it is than getting a USSF license? Do you realize MLS doesn’t require its coaches to be licensed?

  6. Yankeehooligan

    July 14, 2009 at 11:12 am

    I think you’re splitting hairs. I’ll concede that USL may attract coaches (some better, some not just because you have a passport doesn’t make you a good coach) that pass on MLS because of the pay structure. But really if you look at the payscale, USL.1 isn’t an option for truly talented coaches, some university jobs pay better.

    I was not suggesting that USL.1 or MLS alone develops players better than playing in a good euro or SA youth system, but the key is PLAYING. I do not buy the argument that training with a decent Euro club is better than playing competitive matches every week in MLS. I agree with you that USL isn’t building young talent, but MLS’s ever-expanding slate of international competitions/friendlies (SuperLiga, CCC) and I would argue more quality play (I’ve been watching since the beginning and it has gotten much better) is improving the depth of the usmnt.

    Generation Adidas

  7. Todd Boss

    July 13, 2009 at 9:44 pm

    all good points in the piece, K but as joey said the time to bitch about the turf was before the tourney started. now we’re stuck with it, make the most of it.

  8. CleartheBall

    July 13, 2009 at 7:56 pm

    The Haiti match was a good friendly. It was a meaningless game that let us reward some practice players. Holden looks like the real thing and Conrad looks like he still has it. By seeing that, we got more out of this game than I was expecting. I agree that it would have been nice to see a few more of the very young players, but it was fine. If this team had been able to practice and play together as a unit for a few games, we might be able to judge the talent level. Superior teamwork generally surpasses talent. Unless RSL is substantially more talented than Club America? Overall, I’m enjoying watching players not normally seen in a USA kit play hard. Lastly, turf is bad for everyone. The result may very well have been the same, but the game is not as fun to watch.

  9. Skeez

    July 13, 2009 at 11:33 am

    I’m tired of reading what US fans have to say about Haitians soccer….. I’d like to tell that there’s a difference between politics and sports. On the field any team can lose a game it doesn’t matter if the team’s from United States or elsewhere. It’s talent that counts… If you’ve watched the US/Haiti game you’d notice that the Haitians had more styles of plays than the US players…. So don’t tell me about MLS/USMNT players are more talented…. Come on!!! Have you checked the facts…. Soccer is the number sports for Haitians and for the the US… I don’t even know if it’s not the fourth or fifth sports…. Yes US programs are better because…. yes the money is there to develop players…. but for the Haitians the love to play soccer is natural….. they don’t have to learn the sports… the US does. Show some respect for the National Team….

  10. Kartik Krishnaiyer

    July 13, 2009 at 10:16 am

    Yankee Hooligan, In fact USL is a league that in some ways isn’t even semi professional: it’s flat out amateur for some teams even though the players are paid. (I’m not getting into which teams I consider “amateur operations until another day). So the fundamental problem with young players being in USL-1 is that they will never learn how to conduct themselves as professionals except in rare cases.

    But the point about coaches I’ve made before. USL-1 actually hires coaches for the most part that have experience abroad and in some cases the highest UEFA license. MLS tends to hire former players. Nicol was actually a USL/A league coach who fit the type of coach the teams in that league tend to hire before moving up to MLS. The intricate system of allocations, trades, etc in MLS is a deterrent to hiring coaches with any sort of European football background. USL-1 as I said has it amateur elements, while MLS is a top tier professional league, but from a tactical standpoint simply watching a game, and noting tactical/coaching changes it’s more sophisticated than MLS.

    MLS has of course developed players but fewer good ones recently. Altidore is the wrong guy to hold up as a poster child. When he left Bradenton at 16 he was already very far along in his development. Most anyone who knows his situation will tell you this, and the only thing Red Bull did for him was give him competitive games, which is important but his skills really only improved naturally while there-he was developed by the USSF at the Academy level and his youth club prior in Boca Raton.

    A better case for MLS/College Soccer development would Mo Edu who wasn’t even on the radar of the USMNT or the US Youth Teams until he played well in MLS. Edu also plays a position which truthfully is much more difficult to excel at in a really competitive environment.

  11. Yankeehooligan

    July 13, 2009 at 9:54 am

    Adam is a shill for douchebags. Look, no one is saying that MLS is a top league. I agree that over-expansion is becoming an issue, but no one would have heard of Jozy Altidore without MLS. And talk about taking a step backward, Villareal loans him to a glorified pub team that won’t play him. Maybe he’ll get some PT is Greece. All I’m saying (and I don’t get a check from MLS for it either) is we can’t go back the old way of filling the team with university players or the occasional European-based benchwarmer/reserve or we can use MLS as a kind of farm system. Isn’t clear by the lack of American players ACTUALLY PLAYING in Europe that there is a bias against the American player. And continually trashing MLS just reinforces that bias. MLS simply provides a competitive atmosphere where the cream occasionally rises to the top and then gets to go to Fulham or the Dutch second division. Is it perfect? No but it’s a start. Plus, MLS has gone after more Pro-40 and U.S. U-20s than over-age stars. It’s a young league (mainly because salaries are so crappy). And you left off Steve Nicol whose been one of the most consistently good coaches in MLS. So with the exception of almost half the coaches in the league, the coaching is bad? USL is better? Now whose a shill? You said, “taking guys from MLS is a serious serious risk at this level.” But if not MLS, where? Our guys can barely get a sniff overseas from serious clubs.

  12. Daniel Feuerstein

    July 13, 2009 at 2:48 am

    Steve Said: You complain about the turf an awful lot…you realize that MLS is the reason turf was installed at Gillette I hope. It was a grass field initially, but the Revs game on saturday night, followed by the Pats game Sunday made it impossible for the grounds crew to fix it in time for Sunday. The city of Foxborough and the Pats made it fairly clear in 2006 when it was installed that the turf would be replaced with grass if and when the Revs moved out.

    You are so wrong about the turf story at Gillette Stadium. That was the cheap excuse Steve. The real reason the turf was installed was that Robert Kraft’s New England Patriots lost to the New York Jets in a torrential down pour at Gillette. Eric Mangini’s first year as Jets head coach practiced in those same conditions back in Long Island all week long. Mangini beat the Revs at their own game and then decided to install the turf. This wasn’t about the Revs, this was about the Pats. The Revs had to suffer for this.

  13. Lenny

    July 12, 2009 at 8:13 pm

    Good stuff from Haiti- good article from Kartik- let’s move on and focus on Panama.

  14. TR1

    July 12, 2009 at 7:26 pm

    I have really enjoyed Kartik’s articles and have become a regular listener to his podcasts.

    However, this article is simply bizarre to me. I was at the game yesterday almost in a front row seat, and the Haitian team were simply more aggressive, better on the ball, better intelligence on the ball and faster than the USMNT yesterday. Their only tactical mistake was falling into a defensive shell the last 20 minutes of the game which deservedly proved their unfounding. Without that, they should have dervedly beaten a often dazed US side (I am a US fan).

    The Haitian’s showed surprising nouse in both their tall defenders and cutting out the long ball US attempts, keeping their formation when they needed to, and attacking mericilessly as well. Many of the US players were well beaten quite a few times.

    Haiti certainly surprised me and have my respect going forward; some brilliant soccer played by them at times.

    The turf was very nice and looked like a very well groomed field; and I was feet away. I don’t think it had an impact and I would like to hear the players complain (i donlt think they will) before I buy it as a detriment.

    #9 looks like a player that should be in the MLS

  15. Brad

    July 12, 2009 at 6:53 pm

    Holden performed well and has put himself ahead of Kljestan in my opinion. He has his faults but he gives you something unlike Sacha is doing right now.

    These extra spots for Bradley is hurting him. It’s just a grab bag lineup for him. He only has players for certain games and he wants to give everyone a look. The lack of continuity is showing my opinion.

    Certain players like Adu and Torres should have gotten a good look but they aren’t on the team (or left). Bradley should have picked his 23 players he thought might make the 2010 team and stuck with it. Some of the guys out here shouldn’t have gotten a call up and stayed with their club team.

  16. Roger

    July 12, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    Sometimes you and the other writers here write some stupid crap but this article is so spot on I cannot even criticize one point. It’s amazing that after the Italy and Brazil games I disagreed 100% with your assesments and now agree after this one. Scary, huh?

  17. Les

    July 12, 2009 at 5:31 pm

    There are exceptions to the MLS rule like Donovan, but for the most part I wouldn’t ever rely on a core of MLS players in a major competition. That’s what K I believe is talking about. Besides Hejduk played 5 years at one of the top clubs in Europe, so he’s not an MLS lifer like the other guys mentioned above.

    The sentiments are clear and sadly K as usual spotted a trend before it happened. He pisses me off sometimes but as usual he proved to be right in the long term in his assesments of the USMNT and MLS. We get pissed off and then months later say, “He was right after all.” Another good piece here.

  18. jimsakeeper

    July 12, 2009 at 4:26 pm

    Karthik, this is my first time on your site, I’m impressed. I am watching a replay of the Haiti game as I write this and wanted to comment that you grade Heaps a 3, but didn’t mention him in your assessment of the game. Criticism is easy, defense is hard, but I have to agree with the posters who note that he looked really bad on both goals and a couple of other plays as well.

    Robles is criticized in USAToday and soccernet (might be a copy) for being “out of position” but if Heaps didn’t clear the ball away from him, the second goal doesn’t happen. And, the way it went in the top 90 we don’t know if the GK could’ve made the play regardless.

    In summary, I agree with your review of the match, and calling out the artificial turf is insightful. Players know it’s not the same, anyone who says differently has an interesting perspective that makes me wonder if they’ve ever played this game at any significant level. Robles was a revelation to me, if he’s good enough for Kaiserslautern, he’s good enough for a cap, I’d say. He looked bad on the first goal but I am undecided on the second.


  19. eplnfl

    July 12, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    Kartik you said nothing bad at all about the Haitian team or it’s players. You have praised the talent of the Haitian players when even the informed soccer fan has little knowledge or respect for their talent our of most peoples lack of knowledge.

    Peter brings up and interesting point about why have older players in a national team game at all. Well, even in a player pool as large as ours you have a limit of young players you may want to give a look at. So, use a few vets that may never get a chance to be called up except for this Summer of Soccer when the USMNT will be in action all summer and have games at home in the Gold Cup where we can easily bring players in and out.

  20. Rick1977

    July 12, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    Lack of team chemistry, not lack of individual skill (save Heaps) was the biggest thing I noticed about the US team in the match. Were Bradley to train this C squad with any sustained time whatsoever, they beat your beloved USL Hatians 10 times out of 10. Stop beating the dead horse.

  21. Kartik Krishnaiyer

    July 12, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    Will Lee……….from your mouth to gods ears (or Bradley’s!) on Conrad. I think he’s still solid and the weight loss observation is right on. We need him for depth and leadership in 2010.

  22. Will Lee

    July 12, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    Solid article Kartik.

    Conrad seems to have lost weight since I last saw him and he’s still very solid. I think he would be a nice sub for DeMerit or Gooch in 2010. I’m glad he still has it.

    You’re on the mark that we can’t just roll out a C team, most of whom barely have any caps (first one for Heaps), don’t have much chemistry with each other, and expect to roll 4-0.

    Robles looked as jittery as any goalkeeper I’ve seem this year. He looked as indecisive as Barthez. My goodness Heaps got used, as he got turned around twice. That’s the C team for you.

    The match wasn’t a big deal – it was a time to try some things. And give a local boy some time to shine. That’s all it was and to get a draw was nice, especially in added time.

  23. Joey Clams

    July 12, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    The time to have complained about the turf would have been before the tournament.

  24. BC

    July 12, 2009 at 1:46 pm

    I get fatigued reading these articles/comments that always bash MLS. Why spend 3/4 of an article about a great Gold Cup game trashing MLS? USL is not far behind MLS in quality, but it is a clear second place. To cite the Haiti game or US Open Cup games against MLS B sides to prove MLS’s failings or USL’s superiority is tiresome. Of course MLS isn’t a top world league, but why not appreciate it for what it is and offer some constructive criticism instead of constantly putting it in the dumpster. Every problem it seems is somehow always related back to MLS:

    Gillette Stadium Turf
    Canada’s crappy national team
    The tie vs Haiti
    The struggling economy

    Is Holden’s great strike in the 90th minute the fault of MLS too? If so, I’ll take it. I didn’t see any MLS bashing when Robbie Rogers and Quaranta were putting up great performances this tournament either.

    Saying to Stuart Holden: “Go play in Europe and you’ll have a chance to make the WC Squad” is puzzling. Is being in Europe helping Freddy Adu? Is being in Houston crippling Ricardo Clark’s chances for 2010? It’s easy to make these sweeping generalized statements, but they aren’t always correct.

    “…you understand reliance in any form on MLS players is simply something Bob Bradley isn’t going to do in a serious match that the US needs to win.”

    Some MLS players sure looked good in the Confed Cup. I guess that means guys like Hejduk, Clark, and Donovan should forget 2010 huh?

  25. peter osgood

    July 12, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    Dont apologize KK, I completely understand how you used “freaky” and it was not disparaging in the slightest.

    It references 7O’s and 8O’s culture for momentary, extreme displays of talent. Simple as.

    It was perfectly used. When the Haitian side’s buildup was generally awkward and unsophisticated to all of a sudden unleash a perfect technical blast is hilarious and breathtaking. Which also is precisely what happens on fucking shitty turf. Turf doesnt negate a player’s technical skill, but it makes a flowing game of futbol or buildup impossible. Exactly what futbol can be at times. Why it offers underdeveloped sides a chance in big matches if the manger gets his tactics right and the players rise to the occasion.

  26. Kartik Krishnaiyer

    July 12, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    fair points KP from Indiana- next time I’ll use a better choice of words. 🙂

  27. peter osgood

    July 12, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    Surely the most intelligent argument on the web post last night’s match, and first off Kartik should be applauded for it.

    He’s thesis is sound, he breaks it down thoroughly and offers supporting evidence for his views.

    Several here want to take issue with it, and that’s fine. Without Kartik’s post to begin with their isn’t a forum for debate.

    There are plenty of astute and passionate viewpoints in this thread, and there is only one major point I can see that is missed in the lively debate: that the basic problem highlighted by this match is that why waste any international opportunity for caps to mid twenties – or older – players who will never affect the USNMT program?

    Any other major major footballing side would have given their under21 or under 19 or under 17 stars with promise, a runout in this match.

    In fact there are several hugely promising players on the under 17’s I would MUCH rather have seen get the start with at least 5 or 6 semi-experienced/capped players supporting them.

    It would be a fantastic opportunity for BB and his staff to evaluate first-hand where their development lies. As well it would show the truly outstanding younger players int he system – or trying to break in! – that they should fight in every single traning session to advance their position in the program, and that when the opportunity arises for BB to give young players a shot on the full internationl stage – they’ll get it. It also shows players holding multiple passports or who have grown up in football in other countries but who hold a US passport that they will get a shot in this program in contrast to more established first-rate national sides.

  28. kpfromIndiana

    July 12, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    Kartik, I’m sure you’re capable of in depth analysis. And on a certain level, I do agree with you that the haitian players do have major issues to work out. As I previously posted; when you’re analysing a game, even if your loyalties are known, there is a certain measure of sportsmanship that is required. I do understand this is for the US and Canadian audiences and is written from those perspectives but when the results are not what you expected or what you would like them to be, don’t overly criticize your apponent because it makes you seem immature and a sore loser which I’m sure you’re neither.

    I do agree the pitch was under par to say the least but saying the haitians showed freaky skills at times is simply saying the skills they show are out of the ordinary and should not be expected or were unexpected. That statment is patronizing at best and in my opinion demeaning. I as a haitian and also a soccer FANATIC( I will support the US in 2010) find it insulting not only to other haitian fans but also to the game.
    I do agree the haitian federation has some answering to do. As far as I know, they should all be fired but what do I know. As for your supporting caribbean teams over c. america teams, we play a much better brand of soccer than they do in my opinion.
    And just one last point, I agree with the talent level being comparable although not equal but for a team with vastly more resources and a much larger talent pool, it should not be.I do agree that US fans think the talent level of american players are such that any US team should be able to beat any team from the Caribbean which is a false sense of greatness, the US team was still the upper echelons of US soccer and therefore still more than capable of winning the game.
    The result was as much a haitian team effort as it was a confused US team mentality.
    Moral of this long, uneducated manuscript;don’t overly bash your apponents even when they should be bashed. Especially if you didn’t win. 🙂

  29. Frantz

    July 12, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    I think Haiti is el equipo del momento. we’re black nego.

  30. Love-b

    July 12, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    We don’t have problem with the turf, we can champion in the next round we gonna s
    see what is Haiti. Respekte. nou se bagay male a!
    Remenber we’re black we can give suprise in another moment.

  31. Kartik Krishnaiyer

    July 12, 2009 at 12:13 pm


    I give the Haitians credit for freaky skill at times and also know this team very well as I follow USL as closely as I follow MLS and have watched many of these Haitian players often- I venture to say that I know more about this Haitian team than the vast majority of American commentators. In fact I have seen this Haitian team in person in recent friendly more recently than I have seen the USA in person. I also state I am very happy for the Haitian nation by achieving this result. Haiti may have flat out won the game if not for the turf. The USA may have won the game if not for the turf. The overall premise of the article was twofold- the surface negates any real analysis, and that taking a squad full of tactically unaware MLS players makes it difficult to achieve anything. As I said and in response to those posters above who say the US is still more talented- I don’t know how you make that assumption without knowing zilch about Haiti. I really disdain tha fact that so many American “fans” simply assume the talent level in MLS is at a high enough level to where ever other CONCACAF country should be easily defeated even when the US trots out inferior players. Going man for man yesterday I could and will argue based on seeing Haiti in person as many times in the last three years as I have seen the US that the teams on the plastic pitch last night were almost equal in quality. Haiti’s problems with this team have come from a lack of tactical awareness and on the ball quality and we saw those same problem last night. Based on the quality of individual players, Haiti should have beaten out El Salvador and made the Hex from their semifinal group, but they did not for some of the very same reasons we saw them let the game get away yesterday.
    This is a US/Canada oriented site so those national teams are our focus and I was writing this from a USA perspective. But following and having some knowledge of the Haitian team as I do, I know their limitations and why they have not reached the level yet their talent would indicate and yesterday’s game was another indication of their talent level being high but their tactical skill and composure totally being shot as usual at the wrong time.
    I do like Haiti and tend to support Caribbean nations over Central American ones, so I hope their development continues and the issues that have dogged them not the least of which are a corrupt federation and political juntas at home cease and they can be successful on the pitch so long as it is not a plastic pitch.

  32. rgman

    July 12, 2009 at 12:12 pm

    mwen panse pa gen equipe pou nou nan konpetition sa because we strong
    we are the first black of independence yes we can champions.haiti is the best

  33. kpfromIndiana

    July 12, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    Adam. And I guess there were no real US players at last nights game.I do have my facts straight.My point being that if you beat or tie a team who should be superior to yours, you should be proud of the achievement no matter what. I’m not taking issue with the authors facts Adam, I’m taking issue with his sportmanship. You should always give your apponents some kind of credit. That is what soccer is all about! The author claims that the haitian team had no quality or vision but yet they tied a much better apponent. If he still believes that non-truth then he should stick to ‘turf’ issues.

  34. Jason

    July 12, 2009 at 11:25 am

    I agree as composed this US team last night represented a B-/C+/C team. But I don’ think the main issue was a talent difference. Man for man the US team was probably just as talented as Haiti. The difference in the match was one team at least had an understanding from each other having played together at least the last week and for the occassional tournament in the Carribean. The US team clearly showed that they did really understand each other. This is not a talent issue. This is an 11 guys being thrown together issue.

    Also, I am assuming you are including Stuart Holden’s time in England as a youth player in the comments about American club only players making an impact on next years roster. Stuart will be somewhere between 20 and 26 next year.

  35. adam

    July 12, 2009 at 11:21 am

    KP from Indiana, that Brazil team featured Romario and Zinho. That was not anything like this US team. Not even close. Get your facts straight and sense of proportion before shooting your mouth off.

    I happen to think Kartik is right. I come to this site because even though he knows s#$t about Euro football compared to others he follows and knows just about every team and league in CONCACAF better than anyone out there. You can take that to the bank. He knows the Haitian players probably better than all the posters including myself. A reason exists that people like me come here and appreciate the commentary even if it seems at times somewhat warped.

  36. eplnfl

    July 12, 2009 at 11:11 am

    Guys: to view last night as anything but a glorified friendly when advancing was assured is wrong. Bradley has shown a ability over his tenure to play to the level of the goal. That is what does it take to qualify. If it does not take much you aren’t going to see Donovan, Howard, Spector, etc. . He has also shown a willingness to play games and enter tournaments to give new and younger players a try out. That is something Bruce Arena did not seem interested in. If you would recall that Arena said in a press conference at the time of his leaving that the future was not good for US Soccer since he knew he what was coming up, well then Bruce how did we beat Spain!

    So if it’s USL, MLS, or Euro league players let Bradley see` what we have and how a player will react under fire.

  37. kpfromIndiana

    July 12, 2009 at 11:09 am

    That was a crappy article all around. I understand trying to save face and make last nights game seem less important but saying the Haitians ‘showed little quality and tactical awareness’ and then blaming everything else for the tie is comparable to that DTV commercial where they do that blame storming. You can say the other team sucked and then say it was the turf that made your team sucked. That make it seems like the haitians were playing on a different field. And by the way, check the budget for the US national team and check the budget for the Haitian national team.It’s about a million for the haitians. I betting the farm the US puts alot more money in. It’s a miracle they still have soccer down there and they should be applauded for pulling off a tie and qualifying.
    Oh and one last point, it doesn’t matter what letter you put in front of your team(a,b,c,d,e,f,g…), real soccer players are always happy to score goals and win games. I remember a certain US team that is still talks of beating a certain Brazil team some time ago. Well, that Brazil team could have been considered a ‘d team’ but that didn’t make the other team less proud. So appreciate good soccer, but be mindful in trying to keep the US audience engage we dont start BLAME STORMING sessions. I personally BLAME the author. 🙂

  38. adam

    July 12, 2009 at 11:08 am

    Yankee Hooligan is a shill for MLS.

    Most of those players were either cannot misses or developed before the coaching and dilution of talent due to expansion took MLS into a nose dive.

    I’m of the strong belief that MLS at least from a player development standpoint has taken a huge step backwards the last few years with the decision to start spending money on overage foreign players and the decision to allow younger squad players to defect to second tier European leagues.

    While MLS once served the USMNT well, with the exception of a handful of guys which would develop their skill set effectively in any league under any coaches, taking guys from MLS is a serious serious risk at this level.

    The league is full of bad giveaways and defensive breakdowns. Taking attacking players from MLS into internationals shows their limitations. They give the ball away way too easily because of the speed of the game and they don’t get all the easy chances late in games due to giveaways or coaching tactical errors they get in MLS. The reason MLS has so many draws is because other than Arena, Kinnear and Sigi , most MLS coaches are completely incapable of making serious tactical changes in game. Okay Onalfo may also be an exception. So the only time you have serious tactical game that may in some small way resemble internationals even at the weak CONCACAF level is if you have Houston play Seattle or LA play Houston, etc.

    USL is even worse than MLS for player development and quality. But the coaching is no doubt better. Adrian Heath could run circles around any MLS coach but would probably find the stupid league rules annoying and like every other foreign coach leave after half a year or get fired.

    MLS is producing less component internationals for good national teams now than 10 years ago even though Garber and Co. claim the league is better than ever.

    Even worse, how dare ESPN show an MLS game at the same time as the USMNT. Couldn’t that game been pushed back an hour or two, or does MLS and its clubs simply not care about supporting the flagship national team?

    Kartik, your analysis as usual is sound although please come off the Beckerman love. I know you like his technique but he is slow and typically MLS in some of his classic giveaways.

  39. Lenny

    July 12, 2009 at 10:57 am

    Kartik, you are a smart guy but your the same person who said losing to Italy and Brazil was embarrasing and beating Cuba 1-0 was to quote you “unacceptable.” Yet tying Haiti is okay?

    I truly sense you’ve been beaten down because you’ve been told over and over again that your too negative and probably had you credentials yanked by the USSF. I’m guessing that’s what has happened and that now you are being forced to “support the cause” at all costs.

    Again, I love the podcast and this site, buit if my theory is correct you should disclose it.

  40. Skeez

    July 12, 2009 at 10:51 am

    This article is not only an excuse it’s a disgrace to soccer…. there is no such thing when it comes to play a game.. turf or not, the outcome will be the same. If a team is going to lose, the turf cannot be a factor. So now don’t tell me that the US didn’t win because it was the turf. Come one!!!

    Talents win games… not turf.

  41. Yankeehooligan

    July 12, 2009 at 10:50 am

    Ok, turf sucks, but you must be watching too much Haitian soccer there in South Florida (where btw two MLS franchises were scrapped due to poor attendance) because MLS is building talent for the national team. “any form on MLS players is simply something Bob Bradley isn’t going to do in a serious match that the US needs to win.” Last time I checked the starters against Spain featured three MLS players and five former MLS players (And Jozy is basically an overseas rookie). Is it true that are better players will go play in Europe eventually? Sure. But last night’s game wasn’t an indictment of MLS quality as much as an indictment of Bradley’s failure to recognize the young diamonds in the rough that are playing in MLS. With the exception of Stuart Holden, Robbie Rogers and Brian Ching, none of the other MLS players should have been given caps. Jay Heaps was (is) horrible. He should be thankful for his cap, resign and go home. Steve Cronin? Colin Clark? Brad Evans? These guys aren’t even the best on their crappy MLS squads. As far as I’m concerned your ratings were too generous, turf or no. The only players that acquitted themselves well last night were Stuart Holden, Davy Arnaud and Santino Quaranta (who was inexplicably subbed for Beckerman who couldn’t stay on his feet even when it was clear that the ref was calling it loose). And of those three only Holden should be a lock for the full MNT.

  42. HJAORM

    July 12, 2009 at 10:36 am




  43. eplnfl

    July 12, 2009 at 6:50 am

    Turf talk is of value but maybe bested saved for it’s own post. Just a thought that we know we wouldn’t get perfect turf as we travel about Concacaf to qualify so better to get used to it a bit.

    As to the game itself I’m not sure this was even a “D” team more of a rookie and free agent squad to borrow a term from another sport. Haiti was inspired if tactically lacking from the start and the US 11 were trying to figure out who they were playing with. Holden saved the day and a few red faces but the game was a throw away game for the US and I presume Bradley will play at least a C+ group in the next match.

    Davies again looked like an engine out there for the US or maybe we should steal a nick name from the NBA and call him the microwave. Parkhurst does look lost and it wasn’t the first time as has been noted. Robles was a disappointment. A keeper is often left out to dry by his defense and Robles can make that statement truthfully about part of what took place. However at other times, too often he looked completely confused.

    I do not think there is much we could or should take from this one. Bradley got the job done, got us through. Let’s not judge players alone on this performance. The thing that did make headlines is our great finish to advance. The sports writers and producers seem to love last minute come
    backs no matter what the rest of the story line was. So, the real best result was the headline in the general sports media which is paying attention now!

  44. J.V.R.

    July 12, 2009 at 2:10 am

    As always, Kartik has sharp and strong analysis.

    Too often I find myself with one opinion before reading his national team wrapups and then leaving the article saying “you know Kartik made sense and changed my mind.”

    But tonight he’s simply stating the obvious about the game from the US and Haitian perspectives and also the HORRIBLE ASTROTURF!!!!!!!!!

    So today he didn’t change this mind, (sorry kartik) because he did nothing in this piece but state the obvious and give generic player ratings in what was a forgettable night of turf induced poor football.

  45. Ian

    July 12, 2009 at 2:02 am

    I tend to agree with Kartik that bitching about the performance of a B team on turf is counter productive. But we have learned from this game and the poor performance against Honduras’ B team that any squad based around MLS players simply isn’t good enough at this level.

    Even the MLS guys on other CONCACAF teams are of marginal importance. Segaras seems to be a weak link in Costa Rica’s back four, and without Serioux, Canada is actually stronger defensively.

    Guerrero has fallen out of the mix with Honduras while Espinoza is a clear “B” squad player. Jamaica is relying on Cummings and ADdlery (USL) in this tournament but they cannot finish, while Dane Richards and Shavar Thomas cannot even see the field.

    Truthfully Haiti’s USL contingent has made the strongest contribution of US based players other than Rogers and Holden (both of whom started their careers in Europe keep in mind) and perhaps Beckerman who I like but not as much as Kartik.

    Now to the turf. I do not believe this turf was any different than Rice Eccles or Giants Stadium. Watching the hops and skips today said alot about the way supposedly better carpets play for soccer.

    If this was a so called better turf, then all turf must be banned. Truthfully how can anything short of astro turf be worse than what we saw in the two games tonight?

  46. Karl J

    July 12, 2009 at 1:54 am

    Holden is a perfect # 10, him and Arnaud are a bright spot for the future. Holden’s two shots were awesome, and a nice assist as well. Even being the coach’s kid is going to be hard for little bradley to keep his spot.

    When the US puts together a power squad for the Mexico game with a healthy Bocanegra and Howard in goal it’s going to be long siesta for Mexico. US wins 2-1.

    Haiti has a lot of talent but little tactical sense and clearly no clue how to play on turf. Doesn’t USL have a ton of turf stadiums? Yet all these USL guys struggle on turf despite playing on it regularly. Same for the MLS guys especially Cronin and Evans who always play on turf.

  47. GO USA

    July 12, 2009 at 1:50 am

    i am a huge usmnt fan and i support the guys on the pitch no matter what, but i will say that no matter how poorly the mexican team is playing right now, they are one team that ALWAYS scares me…its like bedlam college football…when two teams get together to play and they are the biggest rivals in the region, the tension will always be high, and even the team that has not been playing very well will come to play…i am not too concerned with our play in the gold cup because i know that we are giving many guys who either will not be on the 2010 squad or will be on the end of our roster a chance to get some experience, maybe for the future…i mean, we’re playing like our 4th string goalkeeper…i see some good stuff from a few guys though…i have to say that the more i watch kyle beckerman play i like his vision in the midfield..he is very creative but he plays extremely simple and i like that…that is something the u.s. has never really had in the midfield..i keep saying that he reminds me kind of like a carlos valderrama type of center midfielder…i say this because he does not dribble alot..he mostly plays one, two, or three touches, no more than that…and he doesn’t ever look like he changes is funny because he looks like he is just pacing himself through the game…no too fast, not too slow; but he is always making himself availble for the ball to flow through him in the middle..and some of his attacking through balls are precise and very usefull especially when him and davies hooked up a couple of times…you can say how inexperienced davies is, but when he came on the pitch tonight, u saw the pace of the game totally change in the offensive third of the field…he may be inexperienced but he is definitely talented…i think he will be great for us next year especially if he keeps getting quality time up front…france will help him out now too…he says that he was offered a starting position, so he should get some quality playing time…this tournament is going to be fine though…the young guys are getting some good time so that is a positive

  48. Jack(Vegas)

    July 12, 2009 at 1:39 am

    Holden had two amazing shots from distance that any soccer player in the world would be proud of. I also believe that we shouldn’t be taken so much by suprise when this starting lineup of players that only had a few days practice together performed as they did, considering all the other various variables that came into play.

    As for the turf vs. grass argument. I think that it will take a serious injury to a very talented player before anything of note is done. Sadly, until that happens the situation is what it is and the beautiful game will suffer because of it.

  49. Matt in MA

    July 12, 2009 at 1:38 am


    One quick comment: Bob Kraft didn’t willingly choose to have turf in Gillette. About three years ago, during the latter stages of the Patriots’ season, the NFL forced them to put in turf because the condition of the grass was so poor. The Patriots, of course, weren’t happy about this because the grass was helping to slow down their opponents (most notably, the high-flying Colts, who complained).

  50. erp

    July 12, 2009 at 1:09 am

    Look, these guys are professionals. They’ve all played on turf. Most of them have played a lot on turf. It’s not a reason. It’s not an excuse.

    Robles wasn’t the only confused player out there. Conrad, Arnaud, Davies and Holden are the only reasons we didn’t lose.

    In international play, you might get only one chance, especially if you’re a goal keeper. Mistakes are mistakes, and we can’t afford to have players who don’t produce.

  51. bq

    July 12, 2009 at 12:39 am

    That comment as the Thunder finally win their second game of the season 3-0 against Montreal and move out of the cellar.

  52. John

    July 11, 2009 at 11:53 pm

    No shame in forgetting Cooper. I wasn’t aware he was on the field either.

  53. kyle

    July 11, 2009 at 11:02 pm

    I cant really be to bothered about the results in the gold cup. Theres only what 2 or 3 players on the entire roster that might play at the world cup. The rest are just there to prove that MLS players usually are not good enough to play at the international level.

  54. Kartik Krishnaiyer

    July 11, 2009 at 10:55 pm

    True, MLS is to blame. I do know Kraft wanted to roll the turf every 9 months or so when they pulled the grass out and was willing to bring trays of grass in for big games- but shamefully they didn’t do it today.

    Playing 3 games in one day on the same carpet was too much. In the KC-NE game the hops weren’t as exaggerated. Then in the US-Haiti game the hops got worse and this current game has been simply horrible.

    CWebb, I understand what you are saying but our guys do not like turf. They mentally aren’t prepared to play in it. Maybe it’s an excuse but our guys hate the stuff and it affects their performance. People know I am generally more critical of Bradley and the program than most, but tonight I’m not going to do it. Haiti needed a result badly, and we didn’t want to play when we saw that junk. Canada had the same situation last night- as noted in my write up earlier I spoke to Canadian players, media and coaches about after the game in the press area. When you know you’ve advanced in a tournament and your opposition is desperate and you are playing on a surface where you are scared to get hurt or are unfamiliar with these things happen. Certain performances were bad today- Heaps was given the start because it was his home stadium. He’s not a national team player and we should not fret over his play. He won’t play again for the US. He got schooled in the corner twice by a guy who is very good in USL, and thus their is no shame in that. Parkhurst has consistently shown he cannot play at this level for the last year. As CWebb said being an MLS star does not translate to this level in many cases. Holden is a keeper. Arnaud a useful squad player. Otherwise this game is over and done, chalk it up to experience and move on.

  55. Chris

    July 11, 2009 at 10:52 pm

    I don’t think you understand soccer too well. Stop making excuses for your boys.

  56. C Webb

    July 11, 2009 at 10:34 pm

    When considering making excuses for Turf fields, one has to have a sense of what kind of Turf field one is playing on.

    The Turf field at Foxbourough is one of the best, alongside the field in Seattle. Just like with grass fields, some turf surfaces are better than others. clearly the turf in Giants Stadium and Rice-Eccles Stadium are about a snails hair above the old concrete fields we use to see in the old multi-use facilities like Three Rivers or Riverfront or for that matter Giants Stadium again.

    I think making excuses for today’s match based on the quality of the Turf is a pretty shallow argument. The Haitian’s didn’t seem to have too many problems with it.

    as for the match itself, at least we got confirmation tonight of two things. One, Michael Parkhurst does not belong on the National Team. Playing well in MLS is one thing, international soccer is another and he makes too many mistakes.

    Two, this should be the last cap for Jay Heaps, thank God. It’s funny how the FSC duo of Rogandino and Dunseth (whom I usually like) never even said a word about how Heaps was screwed into the ground on the first goal and then they decide to blame Robles when it was clear that cross was heading over the goal box and to the far post where Parkhurst simply watched the Haitian player head it home.

  57. Lars

    July 11, 2009 at 10:03 pm

    The US, D Team or not, has no excuse for a tie, regardless of turf. American depth should carry the day…

  58. Steve

    July 11, 2009 at 9:57 pm

    You complain about the turf an awful lot…you realize that MLS is the reason turf was installed at Gillette I hope. It was a grass field initially, but the Revs game on saturday night, followed by the Pats game Sunday made it impossible for the grounds crew to fix it in time for Sunday. The city of Foxborough and the Pats made it fairly clear in 2006 when it was installed that the turf would be replaced with grass if and when the Revs moved out.

  59. ricardo

    July 11, 2009 at 9:43 pm

    i dont think u know 2much in soccer,cause i cant belleive u wrote this about this match.

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