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Clint Dempsey

Random Thoughts on USA 2, El Salvador 1

landon celebrates

The US did not play particularly well, but three points is three points. After the loss at Azteca, the most important thing the US needed to do was put a W up on the board, and they did that. There passing was poor, their link-up play was stilted, and their defense of the wings was a constant worry, but they got that vital win.

Landon Donovan looks fearsome. Beyond his two assists, Donovan unbalanced the El Salvador defense all game. His probbing runs, ball control, ability to reverse the angle of attack, and fantastic fitness caused problems for El Salvador all night. For years Donovan had the reputation as a great player who never played his best when it really mattered. You can’t make that argument with a straight face any more.

Are Dempsey’s goals obscuring poor performances? Clint Dempsey has gotten on the scorer’s sheet a bunch over the last three months. Some of them have been great poacher’s goals like the one against Spain. Others have been great timing runs like against Egypt and El Salvador. All of them have hidden the fact that, for long stretches, Clint’s passing and link-up play has been completely off. He has looked slow in possession and has tried to force a lot of passes that were never there. Nobody has given the ball away more cheaply lately than Dempsey. Clint really needs a good all-around game in T&T.

Michael Bradley looks run down. It is easy to forget that he just turned 22, but a full season in the Bundesliga, followed by the Confed Cup, followed by the trip to Azteca, followed by a new season in Germany, and all of the sudden Bradley looks like he is losing a little bit of sharpness. I was a little perplexed when I saw that Bradley did not even make the bench last week for Borussia Mönchengladbach after a dismal performance the week before. I have every confidence that he can get his engine back, but at the moment, he looks a step slower than before.

Jozy has a lot to learn, but….. boy, does he have potential to shine. Physically, there was nobody on El Salvador that could match up with him, his goal was like an absolute powerhouse, and his other goal (which was disallowed for reasons not yet explained) was a man against boy moment. He still seems to get tangled in his own feet and needs to learn how to hold up the ball and control it better in tight spaces, but his game has improved tremendously over the past year. His physical weapons are apparent for anyone to see, and he is beginning to learn how to deploy them to greater affect. Hopefully he will get enough minutes at Hull to be able to realize his massive potential.

Bornstein and Spector. Ugh. Bornstein looked out of his depth. His botched clearance led to the El Salvador goal, and he looked a step slow all night. Spector seemed unsure of where to go and what to do once he got there. Spector played well in South Africa this summer, so I will not make any global judgments based on this one game, but Bradley needs to give Edgar Castillo a long look at that left back position now that his FIFA papers are approved. Bornstein simply does not cut it at this level.

The US needs a road win. The US will now travel to T&T and try to do something they have not yet done in the Hex – win on the road. Their two losses and a draw away from home have not been reassuring for a team that is supposed to be the class of the region, and they will never have a better opportunity to get three on the road than Wednesday at Port of Spain. Three points on Wednesday will mean that they can almost purchase those non-refundable tickets to South Africa next summer.

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  1. WLAC

    September 8, 2009 at 12:57 am

    Torres needs more playing time. More, Bob. More.
    Bradley may need a break indeed. Too bad Jermaine Jones is hurt. Edu and Clark would be nice, but I’m not sure how much sure thats a risk Bob will likely make.

    We need Castillo, like yesterday. He’s in top form right now in Mexico. speaking of which, if Spector is going to look like crap and Marshall look lost, wh not call up Michael Orozco and give him an HONEST chance?

    Oh yeah, I forgot. We’re talking about Bob Bradley.

  2. Eric Altshule

    September 6, 2009 at 11:17 pm

    A few replies-

    first_place – I like Beckerman, but he has almost no shot of going to South Africa next summer. If everyone is healthy (which is not the case at the moment), he is in line behind Bradley, Feilhaber, Jones, Edu Torres, and Clark. Frankly, given how young that list is, I have a feeling that an old hand like Mastroeni may rate above Beckerman.

    Oliver Rosenkranz – Thanks so much for the insight from your end. Of course, this is a classic club vs country dilemma. With Maurice Edu injured and Jermaine Jones not yet available, the US is thin in the central midfield at the moment. Once they qualify, the European players will probably skip North American friendlies, but until then, there are be no good answers for tired European players.

    eplnfl – that is a good point about the first game of a two-qualifier set. They do tend to play better in the second game. A solid win over T&T would validate your thesis and be most welcome. Also, while I agree that Dempsey has been able to use the space that Jozy and Davies are creating for him, it still does not change the fact that he has had some really bad possessions lately. He was lousy at Azteca, and gave the ball away way too easily yesterday. I know he can do better, and I hope he will on Wednesday.

    • eplnfl

      September 8, 2009 at 7:30 am

      Dempsey does remain a mystery. Maybe it would be best not to start him but would you go with Torres instead. Can he be of real value coming into a game with the lead? His club coach seems to have found the right role for him.

  3. eplnfl

    September 6, 2009 at 7:15 pm

    A few more comments.

    Bornstein looked bad and thats being nice about it. Why Spector looked unsure of himself who knows but he did come around and one would think he has his spot for South Africa assured. The defenders unable to play where certainly missed.

    The US team in it’s first game of a sequence always looks a bit slow and in need of sleep. I for one think that given that most of the US team is coming from Europe and then thrown into action on just a few days rest is a big problem. Teams like England, Germany, Italy, the players are playing in the home league and need no time to adjust to a`different time zone. If you ask me the MLS guys seem a bit more energized all the time. The Mexico game was a terrible travel game, think that many players came from Europe had a couple days in Florida and then where of the Mexico. Enough said right there. More thought should go into how the travel effects the team with so many players coming from overseas.

    After reading Jamie Treckers wonderful book on the last WC, I gained a great deal of respect for Clint Dempsey. Yes, he makes mistakes but he normally makes up for it. Is he a offensive player with defensive liabilities, it appears so, but he seems to work well with this current US mix of players.

    That brings me to the US strike force lead by Donovan and now starring Altidore and Davies. With Donovan and Spector being able to feed balls to Altidore and Davies the US does not lack chances. Dempsey has made a good living recently of taking advantage of the defenses reacting to the presence of Altidore and company and finding an opportunity to score. This should continue to spark the US offense. Another reason to keep Dempsey on the pitch.

    A must win vs. T&T. Everything else must remain secondary. Pull out all the stops here. 3 points next week means most likely needing only 1 point from the remaining games and we can hope for Bear weather in DC v. Costa Rica.

  4. first_place

    September 6, 2009 at 6:35 pm

    An opportunistic forward is a bad thing? The more goals you score the better your odds of winning, remember.

  5. Rob

    September 6, 2009 at 6:23 pm

    Why was Bradley wearing number 4? Bornstein had first dibs on 12? My new Michael Bradley #12 jersey got some heat last night at the bar because of it, and I was not happy to say the least.

    Any ideas people?

  6. Oliver Rosenkranz

    September 6, 2009 at 6:04 pm

    Greetings from Germany,

    do us Borussia Moenchengladbach fans a favour and tell Bradley Senior that it’s best for anybody if he allows Bradley Jr. a break.

    Michael Bradley had no chance to recover from a very hard last season this summer. Borussia had a hard time to stay in the First Bundesliga and Michael was one of those hard-fighting “Fohlen” who helped keeping Borussia in that league. Instead of going to holidays, he played for the national team in South Africa. He was one of the last players to join the Borussia team during pre-season, so he is not in a very good condition right now. Only five rounds of the Bundesliga have been played in the new season and this is – after the Mexico trip – already the second trip to the U.S. team during that time.

    During this time, the German trainer has no chance to bring Michael Bradley into a good shape as he’s not in training. If the U.S. trainer doesn’t allow his son to miss a few U.S. games, he will be in bad shape during the World Cup at the end of the current season.

    Moenchengladbach almost always played on Sundays this season. Michael flies to the U.S. team on Monday, then stays with the national team and comes back only one day before the next league match. He’s sitting in a plane more often than getting a training day with Borussia Moenchengladbach.

    He missed two games because of this (well, one time he officially paused because he was suspected to be infected with Porzine Influenza) and the other games he played sub-standard.

    As he’s young, he wants to play as often as possible. So he got in trouble with the new “Fohlen” trainer who suspended him for the last match only.

    He definitely needs to miss a few U.S. games! Trust me with that or you will not get a very good Michael Bradley during the World Cup 2010…

    With best regards,


  7. eplnfl

    September 6, 2009 at 5:39 pm

    On target comments. Well said. The sky is falling crowd should take note of your comments.

  8. SSReporters

    September 6, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    I wish we could focus off Donovan just for once and not fuel the hype machine.

    He’s supposed to beat up on CONCACAF opposition. Granted I thought the 2nd goal was set up extremely well but I think we’re focusing way too much on the “star” player and not enough on how well Altidore and Davies worked together.

    Donovan this, Donovan that, it drives me insane.

    Dempsey is opportunistic. His goal was pure luck and it overshadowed 3 horrible misses in the 1st half alone.

    In other news: Borenstein should go the Kljestan Route and never start a NT game again.

  9. Eric Altshule

    September 6, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    Did I ever lay into Beckerman?

  10. DA in LA

    September 6, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    We look like a team with no tactical plan. Once the other team scored, we abandoned Bob’s long ball game and hit them hard.

    He’s just a bad coach.

  11. first_place

    September 6, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    The question is, can Bradley père do to Bradley fils what he did to DaMarcus Beasley after a series of underwhelming performances. It’s not like there aren’t other options.

    And lay off Kyle Beckerman! He’s good. You can’t judge whether he can play international soccer from a few garbage time plays.

    • Kevin_amold

      September 7, 2009 at 12:37 am

      The minutes Beckerman had were hardly garbage time minutes, but I agree with your general point. He is good, but didn’t prove much last night.

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