A quick note on the title…”boom goes the dynamite” is a reference to one of the all-time best YouTube clips. The classic line comes at the 2:29 mark.
No “W” for the USMNT and not even a “D” as a listless second half saw a 1-0 US lead go by the wayside in the span of about 7 minutes for a 3-1 win by the Danish Dynamite.
Since it is a friendly and everyone knows about the USMNT absences due to injury, MLS playoffs and other things (Cherundolo / Dempsey), there is not much to glean at a team level other than the fact that the USMNT doesn’t look all that deep.
Perhaps one observation of note is that the US seemed to struggle in the one area where they fielded the most regulars, the mid-field. This shouldn’t be that surprising since the Junior-Rico combo out there today has struggled for some time.
Overall, it was a forgettable performance that saw the US on its heels most of the game with short stretches of possession that rarely crossed into the offensive-third of the pitch.
(Note: In the unlikely event you want to watch a replay, it is available on ESPN360.)
Best Play of the Game — Jeff Cunningham’s goal: Sure it was gift pass from the Danish keeper that set-up the chance, but Cunningham kept his composure and buried it with his left foot! (He’s a righty.) Given that the 33-year-old’s strike was the only goal in 180+ minutes of play on this European vacation, he’s deserves some recognition.
Most Unheralded Play — Jonathan Bornstein getting a boot on the ball to stop the Danish counter in the first half: After a turnover in the mid-field the Danes tried to feed an outlet pass to their right winger. Bornstein managed to get his left boot on the ball and control. If the outlet pass had gotten through, the Dynamite winger had acres of real estate in front of him to set-up a great chance on goal.
The Golden Shin Guard — Benny Feilhaber: Played inspired ball in-front of his hometown fans. Benny made smart passes (including a beautifully slotted ball to Cunningham), drew fouls, took a few shots and limited the turnovers as he went the full 90.
♦ Edgar Castillo.
As expected, Señor Castillo collected his first cap for his country of origin. Castillo entered in the 61st minute at left-mid (with Feilhaber shifting inside). The lack of any semblance of possession or rhythm down the stretch severely limited his touches, although he did have one nice feed into Altidore that set-up a shot for Rogers at the top of the area.
As a projected left fullback by most (except TSG Matthew) it was certainly interesting to see Castillo play in the mid-field in his debut. Only time will tell if that is Bob-O’s long-term plan for Castillo.
♦ Okay, what’s going on now with the RB situation? Or should we call it the Specs situation?
TSG assumed Spector would man the right side, however he stayed in central defense with Frankie Hedjuk getting the starting nod. While Hedjuk is a fan favorite in part for his frenetic style, today’s start may have been his swan song for the national team as he looked over-matched all day and was borderline reckless at times. If Hedjuk’s 85th cap is his last, consider the captain’s arm band given to him when Boca subbed-off kind of like the gold watch at his retirement party.
While there is no additional clarity at the top of the RB depth chart with Cherundolo and Spector sitting 1-2 in some order, it should be noted that Heath Pearce didn’t even make it on the bench for either friendly.
♦ Will a woeful attack see a new strategy…..
Bob-O did switch up the strategy today which was both a product of the personnel he deployed and the 4-3-3 Danish formation. Bradley and Rico formed a holding tandem in the mid-field and the US generally attempted to push the ball wide to take advantage of playmakers Stu Holden and Benny Feilhaber on the wings. You also saw the central backs spread a little wider and work to get more involved in the attack to take advantage of Spector’s service abilities.
♦ ….or a new entrant?
Looks like the preview piece should have read “and / or” as both the strategy was changed and a new striker was deployed. The aforementioned Jeff Cunningham was awarded the start while Conor Casey didn’t even make the bench. Aside from the goal and brilliant hold-and-cross, Cunningham’s day was rather uninspiring although the lack of a cohesive attack plagued his chances.
C: Bob Bradley – 5.5
Probably closer to a 5 here, but I am being generous because he trotted out something different just to see what would happen. Different, however, doesn’t mean better
GK: Brad Guzan – 4.5
Beat three times, but didn’t necessarily give up a bad goal. A positive was that he was more vocal, but a negative was the couple of clearances out of bounds including one off a goal kick that led to the second Danish goal
DEF: Jonathan Spector – 4.5
Certainly not as strong as Saturday, but was decisive even if he came up empty on the challenge that led to goal #2. Still looks like he could man middle in a pinch or for longer stetches if given more time to get comfortable at the position.
DEF: Carlos Bocanegra – 4
Not the best game for Captain Carlos. Got caught looking on the third goal
DEF: Frankie Hedjuk – 3.5
It’d be easy to pile on Frankie here, but in deference to his years of service we’ll just say we expected more both as player and representative of the US. The communication was lacking with Spector and some rough challenges led to a stern warning by the official late in the first half
DEF: Jonathan Bornstein – 4
With the Danish attacking focused at Hedjuk, Jonny B didn’t get a tremendous amount of action right at him in the defensive third. He seemed out of position on some long diagonals in the first half to the Danish wingers, but didn’t give up much when he caught up to the play
MID: Benny Feilhaber – 5.5
Benny was jacked up playing at NRGi Park which led to him being all over the place in the early going. The man of the match acquitted himself well, but should expect a lot of grief from his Danish mates when he’s back in the AGF locker room
MID: Michael Bradley – 4.5
Up-and-down game with some deft touches and head-scratching plays. But get this…Junior actually didn’t go the full 90…first time in a while
MID: Ricardo Clark – 4.5
Played with a lot of energy, but unless he was instructed to insert himself into the attack consistently, got caught up-field too much
MID: Stu Holden – 5
Has Holden had a bad game since he’s been called up to play with the big boys? He was not spectacular against Costa Rica last month, but wasn’t bad either. Today he played well on the wing and gave maximum effort all over the pitch. Iceman also had a sweet pull-back maneuver near the end-line that shook his defender and then he fed Clark for a great chance that sailed high.
ST: Jozy Altidore – 4 / Incomplete
It is entirely possible that Jozy was eating a danish (the food, not the people) in the offensive third most of the game. That’s how little we saw of him.
ST: Jeff Cunningham – 5
Stays in the discussion at striker by virtue of a near-gift wrapped goal and not making too many mistakes. (That makes me sad.)
SUB (61): Eddie Johnson – INC
Touched the ball somewhere between one and three times in 29 minutes on the field. However, that is more a reflection on the (non)attack of the US then his personal performance
SUB (61): Robbie Rogers – INC-plus
Made a positive impact and showed some nifty footwork with the ball. (Hey Matthew!…I am slowly coming around on Mr. Rogers…slowly.)
SUB (61): Edgar Castillo – INC
He was on the field…that’s about it.
SUB (70): Jimmy Conrad – INC
Nice haircut…looked sharp.
SUB (70): Clarence Goodson – INC
He was the tall one, right?
SUB (80): Dax McCarty – INC
And that’s cap #2 for the youngster.