The US isn’t good enough to throw away games even if they are assured of advancement into the next round of a tournament. But that is just what they did yesterday.
Yes, a confident blast from Stuart Holden in the dying minutes salvaged a tie. Yes, six guys got their first cap. Yes, a number of players gained international experience. But you have to question the mindset going into and coming out of the game.
We caught a glimpse of overconfidence in the pre-game comments by Brian Ching. The striker was asked what aspects of their game the team needed to work on following their wins over Grenada and Honduras. His response, “Nothing.” Really, Brian?
Then there is Bob Bradley after the game. “When you begin the tournament, the goal is to win your group and advance. So the first thing that we said after the game is, ‘We’ve accomplished that goal.”
Where’s the hunger to get better? Where’s the determination to fulfill the higher expectations following the miracle finish at the Confederation’s Cup? Where’s the desire to defend the home turf?
The US should have beaten Haiti. Period. I believe the poor result came from a combination of a coach looking past a seemingly inferior opponent along with a squad that thought they could turn it on whenever they wanted following an early goal. And that’s dangerous, especially for a team who consistently struggles finishing inside the opponents eighteen.
Am I reading too much into one game that was about getting experience for the kids? Perhaps, but I also believe that for the US to be a consistent factor on the international stage they have to fight for every inch, every game with an unyielding focus on winning every contest. They didn’t do that yesterday.
I haven’t forgotten how pathetic this team looked a few weeks ago against world class competition in the first round of the Confederations Cup, but it seems like the team and its coach may have.