Monday, October 13, 2008

USA 6:1 Cuba

Yes, the U.S. dominated the game, particularly in the latter stages where fitness and depth of squad becomes an issue.

Yes, the U.S. scored six goals in a feast of twine-tickling with Beasley's brace, and singles from Donovan, Ching, Onyewu and Altidore. The U.S. could have had more with Michael Bradley showing that attacking flair that made his so valuable to Heerenveen last year.

Yes, the youngsters Bradley put into the match Torres (cap-tied him--good), Adu and Altidore showed great promise for the future of the American attack.

Yes, the stalwart defense of Cherundolo, Pearce, Bocanegra and Onyewu shut everything down, well almost.

Yes, I think Bob Bradley did everything right and game us a couple of interesting looks, including a 4-4-2 with no left winger, a 4-3-2-1 with Altidore and Donovan/Adu in attacking positions. Bradley made quality substitutions with players that quite frankly, everyone at that stadium was looking to see.

But let us not kid ourselves, while the U.S. looked strong and dominant, we were playing Cuba, at home, against 10 men for the entire second half. We should have won and won big. Against stronger competition, I think maybe only three of those goals happen, Beasley's first (that was simply a quality surgical pass to put him on goal), Altidore's lone run on goal (again another quality pass that sprung him loose and let him do his speed/strenght routine) and Onyewu's (a quality header on a quality cross). Beasley would not have been abandoned on the back post against a better organized defense for his second goal (although it was a very nifty display of two touch control and shooting), Donovan would never has seen the cross that came to him. And Ching's goal--should have been Kljestan's. Maybe Kljestan would have gotten free on that late run to the back post, but I don't know.

I did appreciate the possession and I surely enjoyed the attacking mindset, but this is so very much anti-Bob Bradley that while I want to see it continue, I am not sure we will in the Hexagonal. Is Bob Bradley starting to see that his players are capable of going at other teams, of attacking and taking the game to the opposition rather than just sitting back and hoping for a counterattack or set piece success.

Here are some positive things I saw:

Midfield play was better than it has been. Beasley and Donovan looked like the pairing they used to be, they work well together and the combination of width, speed and passing make them dangerous. If Beasley stays healthy and gets some playing time with Rangers, I can see this pairing doing well in the hexagonal and beyond.

Torres looked very comfortable. He and Adu will push each other to become better and while the two are very alike in both size (small, quick, compact) and combine great ball skills with superb vision, I would just call this a like for like pair. I would call this a dangerous combination that if you could put this pair and Donovan/Beasley on the field, I think you have a great attacking midfield better than anything in CONCACAF and on par with any national team outside the top 5 (there is not a midfield around better than the Spanish right now)

Brian Ching. I know people want Altidore and I could see an Altidore/Ching combo up top or an Altidore/Dempsey combo up top, but Ching worked well with Donovan and Kljestan in the middle. Ching plays a harrying defensive role and moves well off the ball. He does not have the speed of Altidore, but they share strength and toughness.

Player ratings:

Howard--5 (not much to do, the goal is not really his fault so I fee bad for him.)


Dempsey--6 (got into the attack well, just got unlucky)
Bradley--7 (I liked seeing him attack more)




1 comment:

Brandon said...

Ching is horrible and shouldnt even be on the team
it needs to be altidor3e and adu up top
or donovan and altidore
ching needs to be out of the equation entirely
as in not playing for the national team in world cup games