I’ll have much more later but today the US showed that we have a lot of depth on the backline, but that the loss of Charlie Davies up front could be a fatal blow to our chances to advance deep in next summer’s World Cup.
Brad Guzan made some big saves, and Slovakia looked disinterested at times in the game after coming through a very strong UEFA qualifying group.
The US showed some attacking intent early against a Slovakian team that seemed to be more focused on their respective European clubs than actually playing for the national team. I’ve watched Slovakia a half dozen times this year in UEFA Qualifying and they have never looked as disinterested and dysfunctional going forward as they did today.
While the Slovaks executed the counter attack well, their quality was lacking in the final third. Players making the wrong runs and deciding to play the wrong balls into the wrong area. Had this been my first view of the Slovakian side, I would be unimpressed. However, having watched them in qualifying, I realize this was simply a bad day at the office.
The US defending was outstanding even without the injured Oguchi Onyewu and Jay DeMerit. Johnathan Bornstein, in particular was quite good and made some interesting overlapping runs down the left sided flank. Bob Bradley can take pride in knowing his depth at the back and in the holding midfield positions is outstanding.
But going forward, the US has problems. Jozy Altidore’s performances have gradually gotten worse for the national team. Much like Eddie Johnson, a few years ago, Altidore was not able to capitalize on a successful international start and has become a distinctly average player.
Having tracked both players since they were young (they are both from Florida), both forwards seemed to grow lazier and less ambitious after being hailed as a savior by US fans. Neither has proven to have the work ethic to be a truly useful international.
Going forward, Bob Bradley must find another striker to replace the injured Charlie Davies or consider moving Clint Dempsey into an advanced attacking role.
Ultimately, the US could not break down a decent Slovakian side. Slovakia as I mentioned above has looked far better than this performance would indicate in the past several months, and did not seem interested in the game. The US held a great deal of possession in the midfield, but as we’ve seen before in games involving the US at both the senior and youth levels, this statistic means little if anything. Good possession which entails constantly putting the opposition on the back foot is more important and while the US was patient in midfield, it was largely impotent in the final third.
With the US facing a good Danish side in Copenhagen, on Wednesday, what we want to see is improvement in the final third. Jozy Altidore, in particular needs to get his head on straight. American fans have made excuses for him, but a player that has been tossed around like a hot potato in Europe the last year after commanding an eight figure transfer fee, is in a bad place regardless of how much US Supporters try and build him up. With Brian Ching written in ink as one of the strikers for the US, and the possibility of Landon Donovan or Clint Dempsey being moved up front if Bradley continues to use a 4-2-2-2 formation, Altidore could be written off for this cycle if his play and attitude do not improve dramatically, in the very near term.
NOTE: STUART HOLDEN, RICO CLARK, EDGAR CASTILLO AND JOSE TORRES HAVE BEEN ADDED FOR THE US FRIENDLY VERSUS DENMARK. CLINT DEMPSEY AND CHAD MARSHALL HAVE LEFT US CAMP.