A little late, but “quick reaction” on the United States 2-1 loss to Ghana today:
• The Yanks Tempt Fate One Too Many Times with Fatal First Frame Error
While a lot “went wrong” for the States on the first goal, the root of the goal comes down to a failure to protect the ball in the midfield by starter Ricardo Clark.
As soon as Clark made the giveaway and before the result, my mind immediately harkened back to Clint Dempsey’s June 6, 2009 turnover against Honduras in the qualifier last June in Chicago. On that play, Deuce tried to make a move in midfield, got dispossessed by Carlos Costly and the counter was on for Honduras….and successful.
In a game dominated by a tug-of-war in midfield, the Clark’s error proved costly as Kevin Prince Boateng blew through the States’ “defense,” worked a slow Jay DeMerit and shot near-side post beyond Tim Howard who, out-of-position, looked like he was expecting a pass.
It’s the type of play that the Yanks had seemed to eradicate from their play. It’s the type of play that the Yanks defense always has difficulty contending with, but there it was again today wreaking havoc on the Yanks’ World Cup continuation plan.
• No Space Down the Flanks, The Yanks Lack of Forward Movement & Finishing Stifled the Attack
TSG posed the question in our preview, “Can the Yanks Get Loose Down the Flanks?”
The answer, a unequivicable “No.”
Whether by design or not, the Yanks’ starting forwards, Robbie Findley and Jozy Altidore, could not gain space or, perhaps more importantly, clear and open space for Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey to attack Ghana’s defense.
In fact, it appeared that both Findley and Altidore were too narrowly focused in attack, lacked sophistication in their movement, and therefore compromised opportunities from the get-go.
With John Paintsil pinching in centrally, the Yanks desperately needed to work the outside flanks with their strikers–not the interior–to push Ghana back and create chances. Didn’t happen.
Altidore, as well, appeared to be running, or not running, on half a tank from the start.
Findley lack of final ball creativity and execution once again did him in.
This–and a poor time to cite this–was the game that Charlie Davies was missed sorely.
• Bob Bradley Got This One Wrong
If you credit Coach Sweats with the comeback against Slovenia and the line-up that enabled the win against Algeria, then he must be condemned for some of his selections today.
Obviously, Bradley realized his Clark error–about 20 minutes or so too late–when pulling the former Dynamo player from the pitch in a rare 1st half substitution. The claim may be made that Clark was pulled because he had earned a yellow card, however it’s in Clark’s DNA to make poor tackles after making errors. The first mistake was having Clark in the starting eleven in a match that absolutely demanded that midfielders be able to play both ways.
Bradley also erred, in my opinion, in keeping a spent Jozy Altidore on the field. While Altidore thrilled and earned chances, too often his stagnation in the front of the pitch clogged the middle and helped Ghana shutdown U.S. possession.
Finally, the Herculez Gomez selection was poor in my opinion, against a physical and disciplined defense, Gomez does not possess the 1-on-1 game to create chances for himself against superior competition. There is no doubt in my mind that Edson Buddle should have been tried.
Bradley can be commended upon his insertion of Benny Feilhaber who–despite missing an outside-footed chip chance–played a phenomenal and calm game in possession. One can continue then with Feilhaber’s impact on the game in the midfield, that Stu Holden, able to play the middle or the outside, could have helped as well.
In fact, this game demanded Holden, however Bradley was out of substitutions.
Bob Bradley’s World Cup will be judged ad nauseum over the next few weeks, this game won’t be the highest rated.
• Clint Dempsey Shined
The Deuce from London had a stellar game from the States today. Needing carriage in the middle of the field, needing chances and not possessing world class speed with the ball, Dempsey was a revelation for the Yanks when they were out of ideas.
His efforts kept the Yanks in the game.
Michael Bradley also continued his world beater status. Steve Cherundolo came back down to earth on his wing, but Jonathan Bornstein was solid on his.
• The Yanks Got Bossed In Central Defense
Ghana has not scored from the run-of-play in World Cup 2010 coming into the game, the Black Stars ran right up the middle of the Yanks’ defense today, once on a fatal error and another time on beautiful piece of skill by Asamoah Gyan to account for their scores.
Beyond this the Yanks’ defense was surviving, but two errors were too much on the day.
• A Lost Opportunity, But Solid Effort
The World Cup. Every four years. The States had a beatable opponent today and they let a game slip. That said–and this may be the fan in me–the Yanks controlled the game for stretches and did their country proud.