The US’s January Cupcake Campers took on Venezuela’s B-minus side Saturday night in Glendale, Arizona.
And while the run of play favored the States, it was unlikely former scapegoat in Rico Clark who provided the only nail in the coffin as the US opened their pair of camp-closing games with a 1-0 victory.
Let’s just break in down good, bad and indifferent-style:
• Synergy at Centerback
The Venezuelans offered too much room for the States and Bill Hamid might as well’ve been already in his Phoenix club gear, but the partnership between Geoff “The Corporal” Cameron and Michael Parkhurst was solid–but rarely tasked–in tandem last night.
Both we’re active in managing both the line and their outside fullbacks–the latter in different ways. Cameron offered covered for an unfocused Heath Pearce by merely cleaning up anything that came through or over the top while Parkhurst played the angles when AJ DeLaGarza would forage forward.
US center midfielder Jermaine Jones might’ve had some audacious plays on the evening, but five (5) turnover left the backline under the potential for duress and all were snuffed out by Jurgen Klinsmann’s pairing.
A good opening bid for more time from botH.
• A Little More Please
Hard to judge “bad” in this game, but here’s the riddle: Don’t you expect a former Champion’s League club team starter and a World Cup vet to do just a little bit more in the middle of the field.
While Jermaine Jones and Benny Feilhaber were two of the best players on field Saturday night, both still should have done more with their opportunities.
For Jones, his first touch often betrayed him and his see-saw game saw one threaded pass here and one “did he really try that play” over there. Jones didn’t take his chances well either.
For Feilhaber, his onfield hissy fits after getting dragged down in the box are not the moxie you expect of a World Cup vet. Sure Feilhaber had his customary seeing-eye passes of brilliances put too often he didn’t do enough, was reactive or was caught pouting after a no-call. It’s the same thing from rec league on up. Certain referees call it certain ways. Adapt or die. A player with his pedigree should not only know that, but also be one of the voices of reasons for younger players.
More on the reactive front. It was a common theme for a set of players not comfortable playing with one another yet.
It also started from the top where Teal Bunbury really didn’t show enough of any one skill to be considered a legitimate contender for US senior side action….if this was a single observation. Bunbury was challenged in hold-up play, late from time to time and seemed slow to comprehend what was going on. Teal will get better, but then again so will those around him.
The Indifferent Disclaimer
The level of play makes this a very difficult game to rate players. Some miscellaneous notes:
• Heath Pearce didn’t acquit himself all the well on the left keeping Venezuelan attackers onside three times. Pearce with out the ball flowing through him seemed to float in and out of the game.
• Jeff Larentowicz was a non-factor, but that’s not a bad thing. In a game like this where, the other side was posing no threat, Larentowicz did his primarily defensive job and allowed Feilhaber and Jones to get forward.
• Chris Wondolowski, the extremely poor man’s Klaas Van huntelaar. It’s clear Wondo has a tremendous soccer brain and that–and a lethal right foot when he gets a rip–should give him squad looks (top 18) time to time.
Differing opinions on Graham Zusi, but the Sporting KC man was adept at one thing. Two-touching and moving the ball quickly. Zusi’s rate of play was good. he’ll get a look with the senior team and some point this year.
AJ DeLaGarza showed the speed that has allowed him to become a central defending force in MLS. The challenge at the international level will be the position. DeLaGarza can’t cross the ball and is better playing an attacker vertically rather than confronting a winger coming off the corner. A good utility man at some level.
On to Panama.