US U-23’s vs. El Salvador: Will The Past Be Prologue?

Will the US get ahead tonight?

The US U-23 squad is not truly in trouble today….yet.

A win against El Salvador and the States (likely) faces Mexico a game earlier than they wanted to for the right to call London home this summer and to play for a shiny plate to put through the medal detectors on the way back.

The US finds themselves in this predicament because of either a bullheaded or stubborn approach against Canada.

Faced with a rested Canadian team on Saturday, the US elected to test their own offensive prowess and impose their will upon Canada. With the scoreline reading 2-0, bad guys, the approach is thus labeled, “Stubborn.”

While Canada played well, the US was certainly not up to the task.

The match may not be a bad thing if the U-23s make it to the Olympics.

In fact, it’s a good thing–an awareness and game tape of where the team needs to “do work” in order to be competitive in London is at least one outcome of the loss. The book is out on how to beat the Americans and Caleb Porter and now Porter must adjust.

Now, if the US loses, the reflection on the Canadian match will be one of myopia–how could Coach Porter and the plan be so staid, so static, so….arrogant?

Monday will prove is that dastardly single observation and result against Canada is a hiccup or symptomatic or a bigger ill.

Some things we recognized against Canada.

♬ "Stuck..not even close to the middle...with you"♬

• Outside Back Recognition & Positioning

The skinny: Canada did a fantastically well-disciplined job Saturday of positionally defending the United States–in fact it was near brilliant against how the US likes to attacks under the new regime.

Canadian coach Tony Fonseca sent the Maple Leafs Canucks Tophats out in a formation as mythical as Santa Claus on the international stage, the 4-3-2-1 or as it’s deemed, “The Christmas Tree.”

Fonseca dared the US outside backs (Zarek Valentin and Jorge Villafana) to advance up the pitch and be a focal point of the offense. They didn’t get very far.

Canada's team defensive disposition forced Porter's fullbacks into attacking purgatory on the flanks...

With Valentin and Villafana spread wide (see diagram), Canada capitalize defensively and offensively.

Regarding the former, the US fullbacks were caught in no-man’s land with and without the ball.

With the ball Valentin and Villafana struggled to link with (typically late-arriving) Mix Diskerud, Jared Jeffrey or the forward players on their side (Adu, Corona or Shea).

This completely negated the US attack and left the US typically up to one or two devices: (1) swing in a cross from a less than ideal location (Valentin choose this route more than Villafana) or (2) force Shea, Corona and Adu to attack in tighter quarters (Villafana tried to pinpoint passes and occasionally–both usually without bearing fruit.)

Here Canada's collapses with their 4-3-2-1 on Valentin with the ball. Poor interplay between Corona and Adu typically forced Valentin into a negative pass to Opara--sometimes under duress or to negative pass to Diskerud. Diskerud would swing the ball wide--typically to Villafana--the speed of play and Canada's smart positioning typically allowed them to recover.

On a turn, Canada’s defensive deployment left Ike Opara and Perry Kitchen exposed with Jared Jeffrey struggling to cope with the central space created. Both Opara and Kitchen were exposed for positioning flaws by media reads afterward, but really the attacks they conceded were only half their fault. The two weren’t put in a position to succeed.

Porter and the US needed to do a much better job of in-match recognition and adjustment. The sub of Amobi Okugo–not because he’s better than Jeffrey, but because of game tactics and tempo–should’ve happened much earlier as well.

Which conjoins us to our next point….

• Linking and off-ball movement centrally.

The skinny: Said Caleb Porter about Canada’s formation….

“They set up in a Christmas tree – a 4-3-2-1. That’s not a shape they’ve used. That’s a shape you use to really stop a team, and they did that to shut us down. Essentially we were 3 versus 5 in the middle. Also, it allowed us to have a 2 versus 1 advantage on the flanks. We talked about exploiting that, and I didn’t think we exploited that well enough.

When you talk about the potential of a player like Juan Agudelo, you recognize it after the US’s display on Saturday.

Where Agudelo excels is at cutting effectively away from goal and to the ball to create passing lanes and channels. The US sorely lacked this with both Teal Bunbury and Terrence Boyd Saturday night.

That was a one issue–the movement of the striker–and one has to think that Porter will go with Terrence Boyd this evening if merely because Boyd is a much better hold-up player than Bunbury.

That lack of striker movement made “being Mix Diskerud” that much more difficult. Diskerud resorted to making “possessionally-effective” switch passes. What needed to happen though was for Diskerud to work the ball internally to collapse the defense more and have more options forward to move the ball.

Better striker movement should enable those passes this evening and that’s something to look for.

• Defensive responsibility

The skinny: Youth prevailed Saturday night as Bill Hamid’s reticence and skittishness got the best of him and the centerbacks toppled under the weight of Canada’s counter attack.

The game was a great defensive lesson in both keeping shape and taking responsibility on the field.

And while Hamid and his defensive line were left out to dry by Porter’s lack of tactical adjustment, the players still need to organize better and deal with situations on the field.

With Opara and Kitchen made doe-like by Canada’s attackers, that’s where Hamid needs to step up–with line calls, direction, prioritization (“1st priority is Edwini-Bonsu guys!”…or whatever the call should be….)

There is really no quick fix to commanding a game and this is something that Hamid has been challenged with both at the club and international level. What is likely happening in practice leading up to tonight is a dialogue amongst the centerbacks and Hamid to better understand and communicate during the match.

Some things to look for this evening:

• Will Terrence Boyd start?

He should, but because he’s the next best forward with Agudelo out and because he’s got just about one game here to get another and improve the US’s attack cohesion against Mexico.

• Will Bill Hamid start?

He will and he should for now. As much as TSG is a big fan of Sean Johnson, the communication issues at the back necessitate improving a language that is already developed, not introducing a new traffic cop and shot stopper.

• Should Joe Gyau start?

Only if Porter needs to give Shea a rest. Mexico is up next and the US should have enough attacking prowess to rest Shea.

Porter will likely try to give a rest to starters, but only once a lead has been built.

• Should Okugo start?

Tough call here. Jeffery was more a casualty of formation rather than the lone dolt in the system. That said, what will Porter want to do against Mexico? Provide cover or dictate the game. (Note: Whether Jeffrey’s or Okugo plays the US should beat El Salvador; in our opinion the personnel at defensive holding mid will not be determinent.)

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196 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by cpjuengel on 2012/03/26 at 10:50 AM

    throwing game 1 in order to beat the US leaving only CUBA to beat is the smartest thing ive seen done in a while.
    good thing El Salvador and mexico are and likely will be just as tired as the US

    Reply

  2. Posted by crow on 2012/03/26 at 11:00 AM

    Excellent write up. Can’t wait for the game tonight and how sweet it would be to keep Mexico from going to the Olympics!

    Reply

  3. Posted by crow on 2012/03/26 at 11:11 AM

    Lineup wise- I’d like to see Okugo, Williams, and Boyd start. As much as I like Gyau I still think he is better coming off the bench.

    The wingbacks have offered nothing either game. These next few games are huge for Freddy and Brek.

    Let’s get a good lead at halftime and shut it down in the 2nd half. Mexico awaits!

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/03/26 at 11:16 AM

      Crow: I think Canada did a tremendous job of styming any fullback play last time–not sure you can put that on Valentin or Villafana.

      Shea I though was alright but Corona and Adu should’ve had much better offball movement and linking.

      It’s up to Adu, Corona, Diskerud and a checking-back target man to create space for passes.

      That said, I don’t think El Sal tries the same thing tonight…they’re not prepped to.

      Reply

      • Posted by Crow on 2012/03/26 at 11:42 AM

        I thought you explained well why the fullbacks didn’t do well vs. Canada, but I was disappointed with them vs. Cuba. That is more what I was referring, too.

        Canada’s D on the wings was almost like Virgina Commonwealth’s (sorry for the poor basketball analogy)- double team trap on the wings as soon as the ball is across “midfield”…. and you get turnover after turnover.

        I know I’m just a Sheannon Williams fanboy but I really think that you could use someone like him bombing up the pitch to offer some more help on the wings (although I know Porter’s style is different than Williams normally plays). Williams has been almost a poor man’s Maicon for the Union lately.

        Sarkodie I think is better offensively than the other two but he did disappoint me vs. Cuba. I just think that the wingbacks have to offer something more for the system to work against better competition. Porter somehow has to rotate his players, though, so maybe Sarkodie will be back in if Williams isn’t.

        Reply

  4. Posted by Union on 2012/03/26 at 11:14 AM

    I haven’t followed the other games, is it cemented that Mexico wins their group and thus plays the winner of today’s game?

    In a way, this is a good thing for the US. If they can’t beat El Salvador/Canada, they don’t deserve it. And after beating Mexico in the Feb friendly, and annhilating Cuba, they were in need of a humbling experience.

    If Boyd doesn’t start, I’ll be pretty upset. He can be erratic at times, flying all over the place to get the ball, but he is a freakish athlete and simply a much better player than Bunbury. Boyd can hold up and score goals. I’m not sure Bunbury can do either, a this point. I’m not sure what happened to Teal, but his game is too sluggish for my taste, especially as the single striker.

    Its great having the options of Gyau/Shea/Adu on the wings, but all 3 of them really need to be in the game. This is the problem with Adu. He’s by far the most skilled player on the US, and no one can match him in terms of putting the ball in dangerous positions in the final 3rd, but he still doesn’t really HAVE a position. He’s too slow on the right wing, plus he tends to move inside anyways. And he’s too passive as a CAM. We need him on the field, but the guy should really be a central midfielder when you look at his skill set. I’ll never understand why he has yet to blossom in that role.

    I think its the same lineup as last week, except for the following:
    Boyd for Bunbury, Okugo for Jeffrey (if for no other reason than Jeffrey’s fatigue), and possibly for Sarkodie for Villafana. This is the downside of having Agudelo going down and Caleb not calling in a replacement…they only have 19 guys to rotate through instead of 20. So 7 positional players. And no offense to Stephens, Taylor and Williams. But I don’t have a huge desire to see them in a must-win game. This is the problem with not having Morales (who likely would have been on the team instead of Stephens) and Gatt (who was on on the team, obviously, instead of Williams) on the roster. Both players would have given Porter HUGE flexibility in that Gatt can play defense and RW and Morales can play holding mid and right back. Don’t let this go unnoticed if they don’t qualify.

    Reply

  5. Posted by PanchoMiguelMoralesdeConejo on 2012/03/26 at 11:17 AM

    3 games in 6 days was always going to be rough. If the bench is as deep as Porter claims and I think that it is, he should go with fresher legs than Mix in the middle. Perhaps start Adu there with the plan to split the game with Mix, IF all things go well. Perhaps go with Taylor in place of Shea to start the game and save Shea for a late game surge.

    The boys get 5 days off before Saturdays Semi-final IF they win. But make no mistakes about it, El Salvador will be a test for this weak back line. They will not have the ‘fresh-legs’ that Canada had, as they need a tie to ensure they make it through.

    I’m disappointed in the lack of grit on the field. I’d like to see Williams get the start on the right, if only to offer some toughness in the tackles. Maybe Stephens at holding mid-field for the same reason.

    This will be a big game for Adu & Boyd; they’ll have to prove their pedigree…looking forward to it.

    Predicting a 3-1 win for the U.S.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/03/26 at 11:20 AM

      Agree with getting Mix some rest…and bringing Adu central.

      I’ve not been impressed with Adu from a “captain by example” thus far. he needed to do a much better job without possession on Saturday.

      Reply

      • Posted by Union on 2012/03/26 at 11:27 AM

        This would be a good option and also allow Gyau into the game. In fact, I’d really like this. Mix coming on in the 60th minutes for Corona or whoever is playing holding mid (if the US is desperate for a goal), can’t hurt.

        Note that El Salvador only needs a tie to advance. The US (obviously) needs a win. That is a scary thought, in that the US CANNOT afford to go down early. Theoretically, this should be a much more open game as El Salvador doesn’t play the bunker down and counter game that Canada used to beat us. And even if they decided to play it and go for the tie, well, its just not in their DNA. Either way, the US needs to go for the kill and go for the kill early. Getting the first goal will open up the game dramatically and change the entire dynamic.

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  6. Posted by dude on 2012/03/26 at 11:46 AM

    Jeffrey Definitely needs to sit and think about what he didn’t do.

    Okugo is rested and ready.

    I think a more interesting question is whether Opara should start, or if we should shuffle the backline. I think Valentin and Kitchen could form a decent duo, at least enough to stop counter attacks.

    Mix has got to do a much better job, and if he’s tired, suck it up.

    Reply

  7. Posted by Crow on 2012/03/26 at 11:46 AM

    One other thing- I don’t know how the U-23 team compares to the senior team, but Panama ate El Salvador alive at RFK this past summer on over the top balls. Panama really dominated them physically and El Salvador ran out of gas in the 2nd half.

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    • Posted by dth on 2012/03/26 at 12:14 PM

      El Salvador is quite small, yes. One element that Sheanon Williams might add that hasn’t been discussed a lot: his long throw-ins. The more set pieces El Sal has to defend, the better, really.

      Reply

  8. Posted by dth on 2012/03/26 at 12:15 PM

    I think your diagram captured quite well part of what made Bunbury frustrating: he needed to be much more central, and much more active. Boyd should’ve been out there from the beginning, really.

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    • Posted by Union on 2012/03/26 at 12:59 PM

      Yep. I don’t understand the Bunbury start. Only explanation is that Porter felt more comfortable with Teal bc a) he knows him from Akron, b) Teal knows how Canada plays c) Teal was in camp from the beginning, whereupon Boyd only just arrived on 3/21.

      Regardless, Teal’s form for KC and the USMT has been pretty bad recently.

      Reply

  9. Posted by matthewsf on 2012/03/26 at 1:04 PM

    Using the 2nd diagram, Mix would often find Villafana on the left in the scenario where Valentin gets pinned in.

    Canada would account for Shea, but proactively Bunbury and/or Adu/Corona would need to flash central. That never happened.

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  10. Posted by julien on 2012/03/26 at 1:43 PM

    Does any1 knows where could I see this interesting game??

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    • Posted by Scott on 2012/03/26 at 2:35 PM

      concacaf.com has it. you just have to register but I’m pretty sure it’s free.

      Reply

  11. Posted by julien on 2012/03/26 at 2:39 PM

    The game will be in channel Mun2

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  12. Posted by julien on 2012/03/26 at 3:01 PM

    El Salvador wins by 2, they have a strong team…some of them already play in the golden cup and eliminatories….so they have enough expirience

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  13. Posted by scweeb on 2012/03/26 at 3:45 PM

    is there any streams for this game

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    • Posted by dth on 2012/03/26 at 3:56 PM

      concacaf.com is a free stream that requires registration. There’s also Universal Sports’ stream of the game.

      Reply

  14. Posted by Union on 2012/03/26 at 4:07 PM

    AHH!! Okay, I know he is a friend of the site, and I know he likely reads this site, so apologies Steve. I’m sure you’re a good dude. But this http://prosoccertalk.nbcsports.com/2012/03/26/predicted-lineup-and-a-prediction-for-tonights-olympic-biggie/ analysis drives me nuts. Steve is unapologetic about his reservation over German-Americans getting capped for the USMT, a point I fundamentally disagree with on a number of levels. But come on, Bunbury gets the start over Boyd bc Boyd is young (Boyd is 21, a full two years older than Agudelo) and bc Boyd isn’t even starting on his professional team. Steve, its not like Boyd is playing on some scrub side. He is scoring goal after goal for the reserves of one of the elite clubs in the world. I’m not saying that Boyd is a future super star, and I’m not saying that he was super impressive against Canada, but I am saying, that this is a half-assed analysis. Rant over.

    Reply

    • Posted by dth on 2012/03/26 at 4:13 PM

      Ordinarily I’d agree with Davis–it’s more impressive to be scoring (as Bunbury did last year) for the first team of a reasonable league than it is to be a reserve with no playing time as Boyd is. Yeah, sure, he’s scoring a lot for the reserves but it’s the fourth division of Germany. All of the guys on the u-23 team would be excellent players in the Regionalliga.

      But we’re not evaluating in a vacuum. We’ve seen what Bunbury has given the team the first two games, and it was terrible. Boyd needs a shot, unless he’s been unspeakably awful in training or something.

      My preferred lineup: Hamid; Villafana, Opara, Kitchen, Williams; Okugo, Diskerud, Corona; Shea, Boyd, Gyau.

      Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/03/26 at 4:21 PM

      Will put out a (hopefully interesting) half segue here. Ever wonder why the US can’t really develop target strikers?

      The US have really had three somewhat solid *target men over the past ten years. Ching, McBride, and Casey. (FWIW, Casey gets the most out of his talent and is a decent hold-up guy). (Agudelo might make it here….)

      Ching is the only one who developed his game in the states. A brother-argument-counter here (in favor of Boyd) is….target guy is the *only* way that Boyd would excel in Germany. So he became better at it…though he still has a ways to go.

      here, Agudelo, Bunbury, Jozy…all guys that *should* be good target guys are used as a true #9 because the competition for that role isn’t as aggressive stateside.

      Anyway, my rant over…

      Reply

      • Posted by dth on 2012/03/26 at 4:27 PM

        To me, I don’t want forwards who are either #9 or target. I want both. Give me Llorente or give me frustration, or something like that.

        At any rate, I think Altidore is developing in that direction. Game winning assist last Saturday.

        Reply

        • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/03/26 at 4:39 PM

          Until Jozy can consitently bring down the marble in traffic, control and drop a pass, IMO he’ll always be the “best resort” instead of a leading striker for the natioanl team in this set-up.

          If we’re looking for that all in one guy, it could be Agudelo, but let’s remember, those guys: Contemporaries like Lewandowski and Van Persie or past primes like Torres and Llorente are few and far between.

          BTW, I think it’s great that Boyd will learn from/pair with “The Big Lewandowski” — his coming out party is happening right now.

          Reply

    • Posted by Jared on 2012/03/26 at 5:16 PM

      I’d rather have a guy scoring goals at any level than a guy who isn’t. When was the last time that Bunbury looked good at any level?

      Reply

  15. Posted by Union on 2012/03/26 at 4:10 PM

    Also this: http://prosoccertalk.nbcsports.com/2012/03/26/predicted-lineup-and-a-prediction-for-tonights-olympic-biggie/#/2012/03/26/missing-players-are-undercutting-u-s-olympic-effort/.

    Every single federation deals with this problem. No one ever expected Williams, Chandler, Altidore would participate in qualifying. To suggest that Porter anticipated getting them into a U-23 camp is crazy.

    Reply

    • Posted by dth on 2012/03/26 at 4:16 PM

      That’s pretty dumb. Literally everyone around US Soccer knew this; Porter knew this because he talked in the press about it.

      And it’s not as if the U.S. is the only country in this tournament missing players due to European commitments. Mexico could call upon the services of dos Santoses, Ulises Davila, etc. Canada could call on the two Hoilett boys, theoretically, plus Ashtone Morgan from Toronto FC (he’s out due to CCL). And I’ve got news for Davis: Junior Hoilett might well be the best u-23 player in CONCACAF.

      Reply

      • Posted by dth on 2012/03/26 at 4:20 PM

        The dumbest part of this point, by the way, is that the game emphatically wasn’t a talent problem. Look at the Canadian roster. Really look at it, I mean. Now look of the American roster. Do you prefer the Canadian roster to the American one? If so, I would like to involve you in my financial scheme. You see, I can guarantee a return of 8% on your money EVERY SINGLE YEAR…

        Reply

      • Posted by dth on 2012/03/26 at 4:32 PM

        One last hammering on how dumb this point is. There’s a linked-to Soccer America piece within Davis’s article claiming that part of the problem is that the team is soooo inexperienced (http://www.socceramerica.com/article/46117/u-23-basket-emptier-than-imagined.html).

        This point could not possibly be more false. The team is more experienced than the qualifying team of 2008 (measured by first-team appearances in competitive games), and, at 979 appearances to Mexico’s 978*, marginally more experienced than Mexico’s team.

        *(Numbers a mix from Wikipedia, MLSsoccer.com, etc.)

        Reply

        • Posted by Union on 2012/03/26 at 4:56 PM

          Exactly. My frustration is the misinformation. Its a very misleading article. I get that NBC is trying to insert soccer into mainstream sports discussion, and Steve is being pressed w/ taking this on in a “Mike Florio” type of way (the american football dude who has an opinion about everything and rights for NBCs football website). But you want to paint an accurate picture, no? He’s right that Morales/Gatt would have been huge assets and would have been on the squad in a perfect world. But if you can get away with only 2 players not being released for an Olympic qualifier, that aint bad.

          Reply

  16. Posted by matthewsf on 2012/03/26 at 4:46 PM

    Possible starters vs. El Sal

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    • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/03/26 at 4:53 PM

      More for discussion fodder here as line-up out shortly. Can see Gyau and Shea flip-flopping some as well.

      Reply

      • Posted by Antonio Henry on 2012/03/26 at 5:59 PM

        If we had another Striker I’d say we go 4-2-2-2, although technically we can play a Dunga-esque Brazil 4-2-2-2 with 1 striker and shea cutting in

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  17. Posted by Union on 2012/03/26 at 5:08 PM

    This is actually a pretty great lineup. Sadly, in the released lineup, Gyau is still out. Somehow I was almost correct with picking the changes. It was Boyd for Bunbury, Okugu for Jeffrey and Sarkodie for Valentin.

    Would have preferred Matt’s lineup, but again, it shows Porter (like many coaches) does not think Adu does well as CAM.

    Reply

    • Posted by Jared on 2012/03/26 at 5:22 PM

      If Adu can’t play in the middle then I don’t think he belongs on the wings in a 4-3-3. He cuts inside too often and doesn’t have the pace to beat his man to get in crosses. Give me two out and out wingers in Shea and Gyau or change the formation.

      Reply

  18. Posted by Union on 2012/03/26 at 5:24 PM

    Cuba tied Canada. Lol.

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    • Posted by dth on 2012/03/26 at 5:28 PM

      Can I enter my “I told you sos” in already? I can? Good. Canada basically gave us all of their emotional and tactical concentration. Unsurprising. It may work for them in the sense that they’ll qualify…but what a missed opportunity if we beat El Sal and win the group after all.

      Reply

  19. Posted by Union on 2012/03/26 at 5:29 PM

    Yea I was just going to say…dth called this. Said that Cuba was going to give Canada all kinds of trouble, much in the same way as our senior team beats teams like Spain and lost to teams like Panama.

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  20. Posted by julien on 2012/03/26 at 5:29 PM

    Green go’s El Salvador will kick some ass

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  21. Posted by dth on 2012/03/26 at 5:29 PM

    Interesting listing of the lineup–maybe I’m reading too much into it, but it would seem to have Okugo at the #8 spot and Diskerud at the #6 spot. I think I would prefer Okugo as the pivot in the formation, but I still think Porter’s a smart guy despite his mistakes against America’s Tophat.

    Reply

  22. Posted by julien on 2012/03/26 at 5:31 PM

    El Salvador vs USA in channel 887 mun2

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  23. Posted by james on 2012/03/26 at 5:44 PM

    what time is the game

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  24. Posted by james on 2012/03/26 at 5:46 PM

    what time dose the game start????

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  25. Posted by dth on 2012/03/26 at 6:09 PM

    Salvador unchanged since last go-’round? That seems…foolish.

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  26. Posted by Union on 2012/03/26 at 6:11 PM

    BOYD

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  27. Posted by Jared on 2012/03/26 at 6:12 PM

    Now that’s how you start a game! Great finish by Boyd on a play where Shea just owned a bunch of smaller guys.

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  28. Posted by dth on 2012/03/26 at 6:12 PM

    Natural finish from Terrence Boyd. Luv it.

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  29. Beautiful stuff. Shea to Boyd. Men amongst boys. Great ball, composed finish.

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  30. Posted by Crow on 2012/03/26 at 6:12 PM

    BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE!!!

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  31. Posted by dth on 2012/03/26 at 6:15 PM

    that was .less than reassuringly defended by Opara.

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  32. Posted by Crow on 2012/03/26 at 6:17 PM

    Amobi Okugo looking so good early on

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  33. Posted by dth on 2012/03/26 at 6:17 PM

    Okugo’s second yellow card this group stage. Very foolish. We lose him for the semis.

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  34. Posted by Jared on 2012/03/26 at 6:17 PM

    That was a Redcardo Clark style tackle for that yellow.

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  35. Posted by dth on 2012/03/26 at 6:24 PM

    Kofi Sarkodie looks awful in defense.

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    • Posted by Jared on 2012/03/26 at 6:27 PM

      The entire defense looks pretty shaky. If the US makes the Olympics I think we’ve seen that this is the area that needs the most help from overage players.

      Reply

      • Posted by dth on 2012/03/26 at 6:34 PM

        Well, just getting the full complement of players should be helpful. For example Tim Chandler would lock down the right side just fine. Preferably we’d have one CB we can count on to start so we can do a Fabian Johnson/Tim Ream combo in the backline. Then bring someone for the front six.

        Reply

      • Posted by dth on 2012/03/26 at 6:35 PM

        Actually, Villafana looks OK to me. Other than that…

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  36. Posted by dth on 2012/03/26 at 6:27 PM

    Going to need to take a chill pill and hold some possession. Very disjointed.

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  37. Posted by dth on 2012/03/26 at 6:36 PM

    Who knew Brek O’Shea from DC United was originally a defender? WHO KNEW?

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  38. Posted by Antonio Henry on 2012/03/26 at 6:41 PM

    Joe Corona finally starts working and moving off-ball

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    • Posted by Antonio Henry on 2012/03/26 at 7:24 PM

      Oh wow look for the second time in the match Corona acts like a number 10 instead of a number 9 and checks back to the ball. Unbelievable. Talent alone does not equal success. Hard work is also part of the equation.

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  39. Posted by Antonio Henry on 2012/03/26 at 6:44 PM

    Now El Salvador is doing the same thing Canada did. WHY HAVE WE GONE AWAY FROM SHEA

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  40. Posted by dth on 2012/03/26 at 6:45 PM

    Yeah, could see that goal coming. This has been way too loosey-goosey.

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  41. Posted by Jared on 2012/03/26 at 6:46 PM

    The US is terrible on set pieces and corners. What exactly did Porter spend time on with the defense during the camps? Is he coaching from the Arsene Wenger book of set piece defending?

    Reply

  42. Posted by dth on 2012/03/26 at 6:47 PM

    WOW. This has been awful.

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    • Posted by Paul on 2012/03/26 at 7:00 PM

      (Starting climb up on ladder to hang poster)

      Now Panic
      and
      Freak Out*

      *Only after the next 45 minutes. But what the fudge…

      Reply

  43. Posted by Jared on 2012/03/26 at 6:49 PM

    What happened to the team that smoked Mexico a few weeks ago?

    Reply

  44. Posted by Ufficio on 2012/03/26 at 6:51 PM

    I wonder if Mix will switch to Norway now.

    Reply

  45. Posted by Union on 2012/03/26 at 6:55 PM

    If Mix will switch to Norway after today, we won’t miss much. Also, thats a ridiculous comment.

    As for the game, is as simple as our defense and goalkeeping being well below average.

    Reply

    • Posted by dth on 2012/03/26 at 6:57 PM

      Don’t think Hamid was at fault for either goal. Defending most at fault, really.

      I put this half 100% on the players. They aren’t executing.

      Reply

      • Posted by Crow on 2012/03/26 at 7:04 PM

        He should have had both or at least made one of the saves but the greater fault was the porous defense. I feel like I’m watching some monstrous combination of the USA Gold Cup Final defense mixed with Philadelphia Union set piece defending.

        Reply

    • Posted by Ufficio on 2012/03/26 at 7:00 PM

      Right, because my tongue wasn’t at all in my cheek. Also, the previous sentence contains not even a hint of irony.

      Reply

  46. Posted by Union on 2012/03/26 at 6:59 PM

    Boyd’s goal was beautiful. Everyone else…they are getting pushed around by a smaller team.

    Reply

    • Posted by Ufficio on 2012/03/26 at 7:04 PM

      Yeah, we know the problems are serious when El Salvador is scoring on corners off us.

      Reply

  47. Posted by Crow on 2012/03/26 at 7:03 PM

    Wow

    If Bill Hamid was injured he needs to say I need to come out or Porter should have made the switch. That is on both of them. No matter what I’m getting tired of Bill Hamid. I’ve always thought he was overrated and that Sean Johnson was the better keeper. Oh well, too late now.

    Anyway the defense looks just as bad as the Senior Team defense under Bradley.

    And WTH Freddy Adu? Invisible in the first 25 minutes and clueless with the ball in the last 20. He needs to have a huge 2nd half or I don’t know if I ever need to see him again.

    A little charged right now.

    I want to see Williams and Gyau right off the bat. Switch things up and emphasize moving the ball up the right- then switch to the left when necessary.

    Reply

    • Posted by Crow on 2012/03/26 at 7:09 PM

      And what is Mix Diskerud and Joe Corona doing? I guess they only look good against Cuba.

      Reply

  48. Posted by dth on 2012/03/26 at 7:04 PM

    This has really been beyond analysis. Just…whoah. Weird.

    Reply

    • Posted by Paul on 2012/03/26 at 7:46 PM

      Reminds me of the 3-2 road victory over Honduras that sent us to South Africa. Just looking for Conor Casey and his brace…

      Reply

  49. Posted by Crow on 2012/03/26 at 7:05 PM

    Where’s Landon Donovan to put a rocket into the top of the goal when you need 2 goals in the 2nd half?

    Reply

  50. Posted by Union on 2012/03/26 at 7:12 PM

    Very bizarre performance. They are playing very afraid. Won’t be able to watch the second half. If there is a miracle comeback..well….I’d love it.

    Also, I missed the last 10 minutes bc I’m at work. But judging from twitter, there were a few missed chances. The achilles heal of the US? Finishing. Boyd is a product of a system where if you are a forward…you simply FINISH goals. The US has never been able to pull this off consistently. And I wouldn’t put Bunbury near the goal, but I’d pull a CM for Gyau and hell, I’d put him up top w/ Boyd.

    Reply

    • Posted by dth on 2012/03/26 at 7:17 PM

      Missed chances not really the problem. What were missed were really half-chances, to be honest.

      It starts with defending and loosey-goosey play with the ball.

      Reply

  51. Posted by Union on 2012/03/26 at 7:18 PM

    You know what will really end this game? If Adu tries to win it on his own.

    Reply

  52. freddy trying to strike gold too much. Needs to play the simple ball and get it out wide.

    Reply

  53. Posted by Union on 2012/03/26 at 7:21 PM

    You know who was overrated in this tournament? Brek Shea.

    Reply

    • Posted by Jared on 2012/03/26 at 7:23 PM

      That seems a little harsh. He’s been involved in a lot of the goals they’ve scored. This game seems like Adu is going to hog the ball and Shea won’t have the chance to do much.

      Reply

      • Posted by dth on 2012/03/26 at 7:30 PM

        Correct. Shea’s play hasn’t been perfect but he’s played fairly well and his want-to is the best on the team. Not that that’s saying a lot but…

        Reply

  54. Posted by Jared on 2012/03/26 at 7:25 PM

    Can we all agree that the college system is killing the growth of the US in soccer both in terms of coaching and playing? Porter looks out of his depth and so do a lot of these players who have come through college ranks.

    Reply

    • Posted by dth on 2012/03/26 at 7:27 PM

      No, that’s silly.

      Reply

      • Posted by Jared on 2012/03/26 at 7:34 PM

        I guess I should say that Akron is killing the growth of US Soccer because they are the ones supplying the players who look out of their depth.

        Reply

        • Posted by dth on 2012/03/26 at 7:38 PM

          That’s a more sensible hypothesis, though I think the entire team has been so out of sorts it’s hard to blame the troubles on any one factor, in my opinion.

          Porter’s tactics were bad against Canada but I don’t think they were the problem here. If I were to blame one thing above all others, I’d go for “mentality”–and Porter is only partially culpable.

          Reply

          • Posted by Jared on 2012/03/26 at 7:44 PM

            I’d say he’s more than partially culpable if you just saw the shot of him on the bench. It looked like he was about to piss himself.

            Reply

            • Posted by dth on 2012/03/26 at 7:48 PM

              That’s overjudging from one shot. I see this problem as more baked into them–these are the guys that, by and large:

              1) got dumped upon in the 2009 u-20 world cup
              2) got in fights with Wilmer Cabrera in the 2009 u-17 cycle
              3) lost to Guatemala in the 2011 u-20 world cup qualifying.

              Whether mentality was cause or product here–or whether, in Orwell’s formulation, “A man may drink because he thinks himself a failure and become all the more a failure because he drinks”–I can’t say. But I think it’s what’s at play.

            • Posted by Ufficio on 2012/03/26 at 8:51 PM

              Who from this squad was involved in the Guatemala debacle? I only remember Gyau, Kitchen and Okugo being there.

            • Posted by dth on 2012/03/26 at 8:54 PM

              Gyau, Kitchen, Okugo, Valentin were Guatemala.

  55. Posted by Antonio Henry on 2012/03/26 at 7:25 PM

    I smell Bunbury for someone, not sure who, Mix getting dispossessed, Corona is chill in like beer, and Okugo has a yellow

    Reply

  56. Posted by scweeb on 2012/03/26 at 7:28 PM

    The play seems way to forced! It just seems like the are trying to push the ball up instead of trying to develop some sort of play

    Reply

  57. can we take the goalie off here and get on with it : )

    Reply

  58. Posted by Ufficio on 2012/03/26 at 7:34 PM

    Alright, now DON’T EFF THIS UP!

    Reply

  59. Glad I jinxed Freddy. Dude is dangerous in distribution. Wow….what a game either way.

    Reply

  60. Posted by Ufficio on 2012/03/26 at 7:38 PM

    So if Shea just goes down there, does he get a PK call?

    Reply

  61. Wondering that as well. Almost looked like the ref was preparing to make a call. Ultimately, I think it needed a little more force to get a call though.

    Reply

  62. Posted by dth on 2012/03/26 at 7:40 PM

    God this ref has been terrible.

    Reply

    • Posted by Jared on 2012/03/26 at 7:46 PM

      I don’t watch enough games in other regions but I’d be surprised if there were many regions with worse officials than Concacaf. The refs are just so bad in so many different ways that it’s hard to even determine the way any game will be called.

      Reply

      • Posted by dth on 2012/03/26 at 7:51 PM

        To be fair to CONCACAF refs, I don’t think any other region’s games get quite as nasty.

        Reply

    • Posted by Paul on 2012/03/26 at 7:49 PM

      Nasty match. Bloody Boyd=the new McBride?

      Reply

  63. Villafana with a Bornstein.

    Ref has been terrible, but have grown to except that in CONCACAF.

    Reply

  64. Think it might be time for a tactical sub…or two

    Reply

  65. So adu gets a yellow for a scrape of the fingernail, and this other guy gets away with a clothesline?

    Reply

  66. Pains me to say this, but I get a little cynical when there’s a Mexican ref calling a game like this.

    Reply

  67. Posted by dth on 2012/03/26 at 8:01 PM

    If that doesn’t take the fucking cake.

    Reply

  68. Posted by Jared on 2012/03/26 at 8:02 PM

    When did Robert Green become American? Of all the ways to lose this game a goalkeeping error is just unAmerican.

    Reply

  69. Posted by Nate on 2012/03/26 at 8:04 PM

    What a way to lose the berth. Two USA players go for the steal opening up the back and Johnson just plain flubs it. Ugh.

    Reply

  70. Posted by Cory on 2012/03/26 at 8:09 PM

    Goalkeeper’s Union blah blah blah, that is a horrendous mistake and he clearly takes his eyes off the ball in the biggest moment of the game. Well struck ball, but a routine save.

    Reply

  71. Posted by Ufficio on 2012/03/26 at 8:11 PM

    So can someone explain to me why we were able to hold the ball the entire second half until we got the lead, and then we couldn’t get it out of our half? Honest question: I have no idea what the answer is.

    Reply

  72. Posted by Berg on 2012/03/26 at 8:11 PM

    Well…bye.

    Reply

  73. Posted by dth on 2012/03/26 at 8:11 PM

    Johnson sucked there, but, uh, what the hell guys on the killing the game? Would it kill them to hold the ball, close down on guys, etc.?

    What a sorry generation. A lot of pretty boys. One hopes the ’93s through ’95s are made of sterner stuff.

    Reply

    • Posted by Crow on 2012/03/26 at 8:17 PM

      Shea should have just booted the ball up field instead of making that crap pass to Boyd that was intercepted- then as TSG tweets said- two overpursuing mids get beat and the D doesnt close down the shooter. As soon as the D didn’t close down the shooter I felt a goal before I even saw the shot.

      I don’t think its all Johnson’s fault- the ball deflected off of Opara’s thigh and took a weird spin towards him.

      Reply

    • Don’t be so harsh man. Our young inexperienced back line just couldn’t handle the pressure. We’ve got some great attackers coming up in Shea, Corona and Boyd. Mix is going to be a much better player than Edu and Gyau is going to be the next DeMarc, if not better. I would have rather drawn 3-3 than drawn 0-0.

      Reply

      • Posted by Crow on 2012/03/26 at 8:20 PM

        what’s scary is how old and mediocre the US Senior team D already is…. and there is NO ONE waiting in the wings. I was excited about Opara until this tournament. Hopefully Ream, John, Gonzalez, and Cameron can overachieve or I worry about Brazil 2014 (although our D has been better under Klinsi)

        Reply

      • Posted by dth on 2012/03/26 at 8:25 PM

        Yeah…no. Sorry. Mix, maybe. Boyd hasn’t made a first team debut and he’s 21. Feel free to name the number of great attackers who have debuted at the same age or later.

        DaMarcus, when he was Gyau’s age: 70 first team appearances; just about to make a major impact at the 2002 World Cup.

        Gyau: a tunnel-visioned kid who’s made all of one first-team appearance, in the DFB Cup.

        There’s no one on this team who compares to Donovan and Dempsey at an equivalent age. No one. The crisis of who replaces them when they reach their thirties remains…a crisis.

        Reply

        • Posted by Jared on 2012/03/26 at 8:33 PM

          At the equivalent age for a lot of the young attackers, Dempsey was still in college at Furman. He wasn’t close to what he is now.

          Plenty of time for Gyau or Boyd to improve.

          Reply

          • Posted by Crow on 2012/03/26 at 8:36 PM

            I think Boyd is about the only positive to take from the tournament. He wasn’t fantastic at times with movement and hold up play but he took two nice goals well when needed. It will be hard to break through at Dortmund but if he can or can go to a smaller team I’m sure he can become a valuable member of the Senior Team. I wonder about the rest of the guys though.

            Reply

          • Posted by dth on 2012/03/26 at 8:39 PM

            Well, except the moment Dempsey stepped on the field he was a star. He improved from there, but he was great from the word go.

            Gyau? Please.

            Reply

        • Dth, I usually agree with you on stuff like this man, but not on this one. There is a big difference in playing significant 1st team minutes with the 2001 Chicago fire and breaking into a Bundesliga squad. I love beasley! He’s one of my favorite US players of all time so don’t think I’m underestimating what he did. But come on man, I’m heartbroken by the losses but don’t throw everyone under the bus because the back line couldn’t hack it. As a US fan it’s hard to watch goals like that go in. We’re used to having our goal keepers bail us out of situations the defense makes for it self. Boyd hasn’t played in any significant matches other than in a US shirt. That kid plenty of time to settle his game. He looks very promising, when he doesn’t get overly excited over the fact that he’s actually playing. Shea is going to be a star believe me. His crosses keep getting better and better and when he gets his confidence back in front of goal he’ll be a monster.

          Reply

          • Posted by dth on 2012/03/26 at 9:41 PM

            Sure, there’s a difference.

            DaMarcus Beasley made a big impact in the 2002 World Cup. Do you think, honestly, that Gyau could make a big impact in a World Cup? If you honestly believe that, you’re a very optimistic and faithful guy.

            Reply

      • Posted by dikranovich on 2012/03/26 at 8:31 PM

        drawing 3-3 gets us the same fat seat on the couch as 0-0. dont be flipping ridiculous.

        Reply

  74. Posted by julien on 2012/03/26 at 8:12 PM

    Jajajajajaja Told u guys El Salvador kicked ur asss!,,

    Reply

    • Posted by dth on 2012/03/26 at 8:14 PM

      Uh…yeah. What happened there? Not you guys kicking our ass. Congrats on going to the semifinals, but…no.

      Reply

      • Posted by julien on 2012/03/26 at 8:20 PM

        Thank you, I mean you guys though it was a piece of cake

        Reply

        • Posted by Crow on 2012/03/26 at 8:22 PM

          I didn’t think it would be a piece of cake- not only because of how bad the USA has been playing- but the El Salvador/USA World Cup qualifier games are always wild and crazy. El Salvador always reaches the final round of World Cup qualifying.

          Reply

    • Posted by Crow on 2012/03/26 at 8:19 PM

      Congrats. This is a gut-wrenching defeat. I’m glad it was to El Salvador and not someone else. I met alot of awesome El Salvador fans at the Gold Cup in Washington DC last summer. I cheered when El Salvador played Panama and they cheered for the USA vs Jamaica. I hope you guys go to the Olympics.

      Reply

      • Posted by Paul on 2012/03/26 at 8:40 PM

        I think I’d prefer the Canucks go to the Olympics. After all, they don’t troll our message boards.

        The karma of Robert Green is now gone! Excellent, non-gaffe prone goaltending now returning to the US.

        Reply

        • Posted by Crow on 2012/03/26 at 8:43 PM

          That’s because they have no fans, lol. (Canada) No they had alot of fans at the Gold Cup as well- Detroit.

          I met a ton of awesome El Salvador fans in DC at the Gold Cup. They were cheering louder for the USA than anyone other than American Outlaws. It sounded amazing- a crowd of 50,000 cheering for the USA. They got screwed by the refs vs. Panama at the Gold Cup or we would have played them in the semis.

          Reply

  75. Posted by Paul on 2012/03/26 at 8:13 PM

    Now Panic
    and
    Freak Out*

    *Though I still like the talent on this team–hopefully, Klinsi can get more out of the better players in qualifying. Does the loss of the Olympics leave Klinsi more prone to start some of these younger guys in friendlies and meaningless qualifiers? This could give younger attackers quality experience at the national level, perhaps getting us a forward or attacking tandem to frequently score in Brazil. (“Always look on the bright side of life…”)

    Reply

  76. Posted by Jake Claro on 2012/03/26 at 8:14 PM

    Sometimes it takes failure to define a generation moving forward. That was pretty sickening on many accounts, just devastating…not to mention the game was at the 5th minute of stoppage time. Wow…just wow

    Reply

    • Posted by Crow on 2012/03/26 at 8:28 PM

      I don’t know- it seems like the USA always fails at the biggest moments and that’s one of the reasons progress has been so slow.

      Reply

  77. Posted by Nate on 2012/03/26 at 8:15 PM

    El Salvador. Yes – El Salvador. WTF. How do we give up three goals to a minnow like El Salvador? So frustrated right now because yet again I get to hear the crap from people at work about how US Soccer sucks and how much more superior Mexico is.

    Reply

  78. Posted by CJ on 2012/03/26 at 8:17 PM

    I had a chance to watch the game just now against El Salv. We didn’t deserve to win. First off, I am all about an Adu comeback to be an average professional but, based on his history how can ge be made the Captain? Our options are that thin?

    2nd this team lacked just that, a team mentality. They didn’t play like a group of players trying to beat an opponent as a unit, they played like individulas that just happen to wear the same color. Sure there were moments where you think, wow that was good interplay but they were only moments between huge lapses in teamwork. It was disheartening to watch.

    3rd Brek Shea looks very average against anyone 1v1. His game is playing like a quickly accelerating freight train who is only effective at top speed. Where’s his skills from a stop? Shouldn’t he be running the left flank like a beast? Very tame.

    Question… Friedel, Howard, Keller, Guzan, did they all play at the level our U23 goalies do now when they were their age? A little disappointed with the lack of poise/control from our own box.

    Reply

    • Posted by scweeb on 2012/03/26 at 8:27 PM

      Completely agree they played a rushed ball with no composure and everything went straight up with no team play or possession in mind. Seemed like everything was hurried. So if these players have the talent they should be able to slow things down and make better plays. Yea they scored 3 goals but there play was terrible. I honestly thought i was watching a High school JV team .

      Reply

  79. Posted by Crow on 2012/03/26 at 8:27 PM

    One thing though- I am furious at the ref. Its not why we lost but….

    first the yellow card on Freddy Adu was asinine. I was watching on a crappy stream on my crappy DSL internet and I saw live that Freddy didn’t make contact with that guy. If anything it should have been a yellow card on the El Salvador player for simulation.

    Then the sucker punch to Boyd that should have been a red card.

    Reply

    • Posted by Jared on 2012/03/27 at 4:08 AM

      Red card and a penalty if the highlights from Mun2 were correct. The ones I saw were a little blurry but I heard the announcers stating that it should have been a penal.

      Reply

      • Posted by Crow on 2012/03/27 at 5:09 AM

        You’re right it should have been a red card and a penalty kick since it happened in the box. It would have been cheap but hey the idiot is the one who decide to throw the punch. Inexcusable that the lineman at least didn’t catch it- they had a completely unobstructed view. The ref was terrible throughout as well.

        Reply

  80. Posted by Crow on 2012/03/26 at 8:39 PM

    Wow, I can’t imagine how Costa Rica must have felt after that WCQ in 2009.

    Reply

  81. Well…I’m glad I don’t have any liquor in my apartment. Of course, if I did, it’d be gone by now.

    The ghost of Robert Green comes back to bite us in the butt.

    Reply

  82. Posted by Crow on 2012/03/26 at 8:58 PM

    I hate sports. They will be the end of me I’ve course I’ve said that every one of the 26 years of my life

    Reply

  83. Crow, don’t know if its correct to say we fail at all the big moments. What matters in the big picture for the Nats is WQ qualification. Yes, making big tourneys is certainly important, but as I suggested in my previous comment, if guys on this squad come away hungrier and more focused for when they reach the senior team qualifying, they will have the knowledge that qualification isn’t given to you and that complacency can bite you in the ass in the 95th minute and end your run.

    In the business world and elsewhere, what often defines leaders and ultimately success, is not the times that a person got what they wanted, but how they responded when they failed. Do you regroup, evolve, and innovate, or wallow and expect different results through the same approach the next time around. I say this as someone who is crushed by this result—but I also realize this is a u-23 tournament that had a very condensed qualifying schedule…ripe for upsets and heartbreak. So ultimately, I’d rather have that happen to guys who are developing in our system, then those who are at the senior level and should already be prepared for such events. That’s the value of experience, and why you don’t necessarily throw all your 23 year old prospects into the senior team mixer.

    As for the game itself, very uneven, and too many defensive lapses. The last two goals came down to poor awareness and lack of urgency. Our goalkeeping got a wake-up call the last two games that there is more to the position than athleticism. I think this shows the value of Guzan if he can get reps. He’s just much more advanced in his game at this point than both Hamid and Johnson, who are both extremely young so there is certainly time for them to develop their game.

    Adu showed his best and worst in this game. He enters into to too many phases where he thinks he’s a scorer, and I just don’t think that he is, or that he is in the way that he thinks. He could learn by watching someone like Messi, who takes over games just as much off the ball as he does on it. He’s stuck in the mentality that he has to create chances for himself, and this turns into myopic play. Yet, when he uses his creativity in releasing other players, he can be so lethal. And though his pace is lacking for true wing play, He’s so comfortable in tight spaces that he still can create fairly well out wide.

    I think there was an issue with the mid-field pairing as well. Mix needs an Edu or someone in that mold, and it didn’t seem that the u-23s had that guy in a pure sense. I think there’s still a lot of mid-field players on this team who are finding their game, and trying to get consistent reps, and it showed.

    Reply

    • Posted by dth on 2012/03/26 at 9:18 PM

      You know which failures should have been sufficiently motivating, humbling, and educating?:

      1) 2009 u-20 world cup debacle.
      2) 2011 u-20 world cup qualifying debacle.

      Most of the team is covered in one or the other category. So, yeah, if this debacle is the one that wakes them up, great. But they’ve had more than enough warning.

      Reply

    • Posted by Crow on 2012/03/26 at 9:21 PM

      You’re right with most of what you are saying

      It’s just an emotional comment- thinking back on the Ghana game at the World Cup, the failure in other World Cups, the last Olympics, blowing the lead in the Confed Cup final.

      I actually thought Okugo looked good and Boyd but I don’t see any superstars (even anyone comparing to Donovan and Dempsey) coming out of this group at any position which is scary. I do see better depth in the future for the men’s team- there will actually be position battles and there won’t be any more Bornstein, Clarks, Mastroeni, Findleys starting in World Cups.

      Hopefully Boyd develops into a dangerous striker at least.

      Reply

  84. Posted by Crow on 2012/03/26 at 9:23 PM

    Gulati and Klinsy attended this game right? Yikes….

    Reply

  85. Posted by Union on 2012/03/26 at 9:49 PM

    Missed the second half outside of following it on Twitter. Was in a screening and spent the entire time checking my phone. Knew it was brutal, but didn’t know it was as brutal as we saw. A few thoughts. Starting with the specific ones.

    -Steve Davis needs to have his computer taken away. How does Boyd look now Steve? He is a very good player. Flawed, yes. We shouldn’t get too excited. But he is better than Agudelo. And might be better than Jozy. The second goal was a little lucky, but that first one? Tell me the last time you saw Jozy one time a volley like that. I look forward to the more conservative posters on this board, the enthusiasm police to come in and tell me I’m wrong, but just wait and see.

    -Some people (cough, Steve Davis, cough) are blaming Freddy for not doing enough over the course of the tournament. Maybe, maybe not, but Freddy had a dynamite last 30 minutes. I’d point more at Shea, who while being young, truly lacks the maturity/leadership you’d expect from someone w/ the most senior team caps outside of Adu. Not clearing the ball quite literally cost the team a birth at the Olympics

    -The defense was bad. But there isn’t much the US could do about it. Who else could be called in? Gatt and Morales were big losses, but every nation has top players withheld from Olympic qualifying. If even one or two timely saves were made, the US wouldn’t be in this spot..which brings me to my next point..

    -The goalkeeping was atrocious. Possible the worse I’ve seen by a US keeper. Young keepers make mistakes, its a given. But man. I feel terrible for Hamid/Johnson. Say what you want. All but 1 of the 5 goals scored against the US were a result of keeper errors. Sure, the defense could have closed the shooter down and we could have cleared set pieces, but still. That score against Johnson..was just….that can’t happen. Brutal. That ball needs to be saved.

    -Coaching. I have a hard time understanding why Gyau wasn’t brought in for a clearly gassed Shea much earlier. Not saying he would have made a difference, but he’s clearly one of your top 3 most talent players….how can you only give him 1-2 minutes in a game this big? Sorry. That is awful coaching. He needs to be on the field for 30 minutes at least.

    More general thoughts-

    -This is by no means the apocalypse. Luckily, the Olympics are not as important in the world of international soccer as we are making them out to be. But…the US has failed to qualify for 3 major tournaments in the past 2 years: U-20 WC, Confederations Cup, Olympics. At some point, people need to stop making excuses. It seems clear to me, that while the US is improving in terms of talent/skill, so are the CONCACAF countries. I’m not sure what the solution is, but qualifying is going to become a lot more difficult in the years to come if the US team doesn’t make some big strides.

    -The US needs to toughen up. El Salvador was cheap, yes. So are most of the CONCACAF/CONMEBOL countries. They dive, they punch, they kick, they do it all. But its time the US stops complaining about it, learns to live with it, and plays that type of game. I don’t want to see anymore players get rattled because a 5’2 central american throws an elbow when they aren’t looking.

    Reply

    • Posted by dth on 2012/03/26 at 9:53 PM

      No way Gyau’s one of the top three talent players. It’s just not so. He’s flashy, but he lacks so much in his game. And I don’t think he changes the result, whether 1 minute or 30.

      Reply

    • Posted by bmullis on 2012/03/27 at 6:51 AM

      “This is by no means the apocalypse. Luckily, the Olympics are not as important in the world of international soccer as we are making them out to be.”

      Absolutely right, but the Olympics are important in the US and are covered on TV in the US like crazy. So this means we miss one more excellent chance to get a little more romantic mainstream coverage of US soccer into the minds of some kids out there–and growing the US soccer culture is the long-term solution.

      Reply

    • Posted by dth on 2012/03/27 at 9:58 AM

      I think Anglocentrism is to blame for our view that the Olympics aren’t important. Spain will take the tournament seriously. The rest of the teams in the tournament will take it seriously; Brazil will take it very seriously. No, people take it very seriously and that’s not an excuse.

      Reply

      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2012/03/27 at 11:37 AM

        It has only been in the last few Olympic cycles that countries have taken the men’s football seriously, especially UEFA nations (they have healthy U21s, U19s and U17s, and you can also add the recently founded NextGen Series).

        GB politics are to blame for your ‘Anglocentrism’, DTH.

        Reply

        • Posted by dth on 2012/03/27 at 11:47 AM

          No, I mean “Anglocentrism” as in U.S. fans’ tendency to take England’s view of soccer as too representative of what the world thinks about soccer. Mexico fired the head coach of the senior sign over the u-23 failure to qualify for the Olympics, for example.

          Reply

  86. Posted by JW on 2012/03/26 at 10:43 PM

    Lose to Guatemala in Guatemala? Meh. Lose to Mexico in SoCal? k. Lose to CAN and 3-3 SLV at HOME? Debacle. Any level.

    Reply

    • Posted by Jared on 2012/03/27 at 5:55 AM

      Wasn’t it more like losing to Canada and El Salvador in an empty stadium? Were there any fans at those games?

      Reply

      • Posted by Crow on 2012/03/27 at 6:26 AM

        If not for American Outlaws there probably would have been 100 USA fans there, maybe.

        Reply

  87. Well, at least I won’t have to look at Brek Shea’s shaggy red mohawk for a while. He’s giving Sebastian Velasquez a real run for his money in the “Worst Hair in MLS” competition.

    Seriously though, what a disappointment. Tough to watch Porter in the post-game interviews. He, his staff, and his players must be gutted – I know I am. USA soccer marches on but this one will sting for a while.

    Reply

  88. Posted by Berniebernier on 2012/03/27 at 4:34 AM

    On a happier note, loved Boyd last night. Really played for US. Don’t want to read anything about his Americanness from anyone going forward. He had tons of passion and probably the biggest flag waver on the squad.

    Not ready to share other thoughts yet.

    Reply

    • Posted by Crow on 2012/03/27 at 5:08 AM

      Yes I completely agree. It was nice to see some passion from somebody and he showed it.

      Reply

  89. Posted by Crow on 2012/03/27 at 5:17 AM

    Like I said before, the 2000 Olympic qualifiers in Hershey, PA is what really got me into soccer as a young teen- I was just looking through some articles and it was funny to see names- O’Brien, Donovan, Wolff, Conor Casey (lol), Olsen, Howard, Brian Dunseth (forgot he was captain!) in the starting lineup. These guys cruised past Guatemala and Honduras. What a difference 12 years makes.

    Reply

  90. Posted by Crow on 2012/03/27 at 6:25 AM

    After sleeping (not too well) on the game… when was the last time the striker position was the strongest in the tournament (not Bunbury)?

    When was the last time goalkeeper was about the worst?

    Why did Porter have to show such loyalty to Akron players? Bunbury, Sarkodie, Valentin, Kitchen (no other options maybe) were some of the worst players throughout the tournament.

    Where was Joe Corona in the Canada and El Salvador game? (yes he got one goal but other than that)

    Why weren’t substitues used earlier in the El Salvador game?

    Everyone seems to be crucifing Sean Johnson but for a goalie the hardest shot to stop is one when you are screened from the shot AND it takes a deflection. Johnson should have made that save still (a few inches from it going over the bar) but that was not an easy, routine save like people are making it out to be. And at least unlike Hamid he made some other saves in the tournament.

    How many times do we have to watch the USA give up big goals because no one steps up to challenge an attacker taking a shot near the top of the box?

    Why can’t we produce any competent wingbacks? Villafana was probably the ‘best’ of the tournament and he just stood and watched that 2nd goal by El Salvdor. Why does Porter rate Sarkodie higher than Williams? Such a shame that Gatt wasn’t there.

    Why couldn’t Shea just clear the damn ball at the end of the game??!!

    Does anybody actually think we would have beaten Honduras or Mexico based off the way we were playing…. I don’t think so.

    When will Freddy Adu ever develop? never

    Reply

    • Posted by Jared on 2012/03/27 at 6:57 AM

      If you read my knee jerk reaction to the college players and coach upthread, I completely agree. Porter and his Akron boys looked well out of their depth. He probably doesn’t know how to make actual subs since in college you can just rotate guys in and out.

      You’re being unfair to Freddy. He was one of the better players out there (not that that is saying much) and not responsible for the US being unable to defend or save shots. If he was anyone other than Adu most people would have been fairly impressed. It’s not his fault that US Soccer/MLS/Sierra Mist/Nike/whoever else boosted him up as the next Pele.

      Johnson had plenty of time to save that shot. It was taken from 25 yards out so it wasn’t like the screen was 2 feet in front of him. He and Hamid were both awful.

      Reply

      • Posted by crow on 2012/03/27 at 7:08 AM

        Still disagree on Johnson. The 4 goals Hamid let in were all worse in my mind as a goalie.

        Freddy’s inconsistency was maddening throughout the el Salvador game and the tournament. He is the captain and most talented player so yes he is held to a higher standard.

        Reply

      • Posted by dth on 2012/03/27 at 9:56 AM

        Disagree about the complaints about the Akron kids:
        a) Valentin was actually fine against Canada
        b) there weren’t (aside from Bunbury) any real options. Which CB would you have preferred to Kitchen, for example? To elaborate: which CB could Porter have plausibly integrated starting in January instead of Kitchen? The answer, of course, is no one.

        Bunbury sucked, but literally everyone had Valentin and Kitchen in their qualifying rosters and starting lineups, because they were the best players at their respective positions.

        Reply

  91. Posted by Sean on 2012/03/27 at 6:36 AM

    94’th minute your up by one. Your opponent just won the ball at about the midway line. He starts streaking toward goal. You must win to advance, and you can’t let him get a shot off. Even if you are on a yellow card, Okugo, you foul that player. Stop the counter, get some guys behind the ball. I was taught as a young player that when the game is on the line, the ball or the man get past you, never both. Shameful that we escorted him to the box and let him have a free shot. Same that Johnson didn’t save it, but c’mon boys, why is he able to run at us. Grab his shirt, trip him up.

    Reply

    • Posted by crow on 2012/03/27 at 7:11 AM

      I thought Okugo was one of the best players but i thought he should.have been substituted for Jeffrey since he was playing with a yellow. At any rate like you said, you’re going to miss the next game anyway and you need to get there first. Do whatever it takes to stop the attacking player.

      Reply

      • Posted by Sean on 2012/03/27 at 11:45 AM

        I also thought Okugo was fantastic. Actually, he should be ahead of Jeffrey on that depth chart. But I was worried about the early yellow. Yet he over committed when that ball was lost, and instead of fouling like he should have, he chased the guy to where he shot.

        Reply

        • Posted by dth on 2012/03/27 at 11:50 AM

          I agree Okugo should’ve been ahead of Jeffrey, but he was somewhat less than fantastic. The yellow was a gaffe and failing to step up to the goalscorer on the third goal was a gaffe; the rest of his play was a couple ticks below average–he, like the rest of the team, was not calm enough on the ball.

          I remain optimistic about Okugo because in general he’s the opposite of what he showed in that match yesterday; one hopes he can actually get some time for the Union. Leave it to Peter Nowak to institute a youth revolution…and not play his best prospect.

          Reply

          • Posted by Sean on 2012/03/27 at 2:37 PM

            He over comitted on the third goal. And like I said, looked out of place at the beginning. However, the comment was why let them go to goal. Even if the man has ran past you, grab his shirt. There is no tomorrow if you don’t win today.

            He was a workhorse in the midfield, considering Mix was gassed from the get go and Corona offers very little defensively. Not to even mention that many times he was playing 2 v 1 in the center of the field.

            Reply

  92. Posted by Crow on 2012/03/27 at 7:17 AM

    Finally, it’s a shame for Porter but he has to take responsibility. I like his ideas but without getting all dirkanovich on you- its almost like a politician with great ideas that cant deliver them. It’s a shame he has such a small sample size to work with- ridiculous almost- but you get more games by winning and these weren’t hard games to win. I find myself still defending him to an extent but if this was Bob Bradley he would have been chased out of town. Also, it was clear that he did not manage the bench well and was tactically outcoached at time which is a shame. I don’t want to go back to bunker ball but will the fanbase and Gulati be able to accept the growing pains? I don’t know.

    Reply

  93. I’m probably the only person left who doesn’t think that the U-23 needs to blow anything up. I tend to think that a combination of naivete as well as some unfortunate bounces caused this problem

    People are tending to forget that at time during the last u-23 matches the USA has played absolutely scintillating and beautiful soccer. Certainly as well they played some poor defense. However, this isn’t the World Cup and as much as I want the USYNT at the Olympics, I would rather have them learning offensive fluidity and movement off the ball so that this translates to the senior level.

    Games that are lost in this fashion can be as instrumental as games that are won.

    Onward

    (Note: If I got fired every time I made a mistake at my job, I would never be able to redeem myself later. Redemption is fun, exciting and highly enjoyable)

    Reply

    • Posted by crow on 2012/03/27 at 8:22 AM

      The problem is that when will this team get another opportunity to play? They won’t as there aren’t any other tournaments. Talk about missed scouting opportunities for these players as well in London.

      Also I think the only beautiful play was against Cuba. Canada stymied the US and other than the first US goal there wasn’t that much beautiful soccer in the El Salvador game. The 2nd goal came with El Salvador caught up field.

      I don’t want to blow everything up as i said I don’t want to go back to bunker ball. But Sunil may think that there is hell to pay and he may be right due to the continued underachievement of this group of players in tournament.

      This team really needs a Dempsey or Bradley to toughen it up. It looks like Boyd is the closest thing to that.

      Reply

      • Er, Beauty is in the eye of the beholder? Some of the link up play, passing, movement (yes even during the Canada game) gave me the tickles. It doesn’t always have to be for 15 minutes at a time, but there were moments in every game that I enjoyed.

        I mean some of the goals the USA scored were fantastic and were scored via a forward. That is something I haven’t seen the senior team do in a meaningful game in a very long time.

        Some of the tricky plays, backheel passes by Adu, Boyd’s passion… there was a lot to like.

        I mean the USA came back in the second half and had the game won, they played aggressively and lost out because of a missed call/potential red card on the foul against Boyd and a long range shot that should have been closed down/saved. This was after 3 games in a week, on the last shot of the game, 12 seconds after the supposed end of stoppage time. Sometimes it isn’t your week.

        Look, one time I was coming back to claim one of those poked through balls between the forward and the keeper. I was shielding the forward on my back and trying to make a decision in regards to clearing the ball and I didn’t pivot around my foot fast enough to clear the ball, rather accidentally fouling it into the net for the only goal of the game (we lost 1-0). (FYI: it was actually a pretty amazing strike) It didn’t necessarily make me a bad player, it was just a bad decision and I learned a lesson about positioning at Left Back.

        I guess I would rather have the U-23 team learn these lessons now than when some of them are playing in 2014. This (for most of the team) will be a loss that will stick in their craw for a very long time, and with the right mental attitude that memory could be a very good thing to have.

        Reply

      • Posted by Berniebernier on 2012/03/27 at 8:59 AM

        Some more non-game thoughts:

        1) Missing the Olympics isn’t as bad as it was 8 years ago. From a scouting prospective who would be going to a bigger team that wouldn’t get scouted any way. And as far as the competition and pressure someone like Boyd will grow just as much at Dortmund as he will in the Olympics. Maybe some boarderline player misses out on a Europe move but honestly looking at that team I didn’t see a lot of undiscovered talent.

        2) Its a good sign that we can’t get our best players for qualifying. That means they are playing elsewhere in top European leagues. So our second team isn’t as good as El Salvador’s first team (honestly if we did qualify you get the 3 overage players plus Altidore, Chandler, Danny Williams, and Gatt, and Morales thats 8 new players in the 18 going to London).

        Trying to rationalize the disappointment so take it easy on me.

        Reply

        • I guess my thing about the Olympics is that it puts us in the same company as Spain, Germany, France, Great Britain, Greece, Russia, Serbia, Sweden, Argentina, Ghana, Mexico, Brazil… as teams who have missed either one or more Olympics in the last 5 go rounds. That is a ton of really talented teams who missed the Olympics.

          Spain (who … you know… won the world cup) didn’t even make the last two Olympics, this is the first time in the last 8 years that they are going to be there.

          Germany hasn’t even SELECTED a team for the Olympics since 1998 and have never made it since reunification.

          France haven’t been since 96.

          Granted much of this is because Europe cares more about the World Cup and Euros far more than the Olympics.

          Even Brazil have missed the Olympics in the last 10 go rounds (They missed in 04) and Brazil have never won an Olympic gold medal.

          Argentina are unarguably the best Olympic soccer team in the last 10 years and they haven’t won a world cup since 1986 and a Copa America since 1993. They also didn’t qualify for London despite winning the last two Olympic Gold Medals.

          Reply

  94. […] you compress your backline further to the front four ahead of it. It would be a similar plan that Canada has used recently against the US’s U-23′s 4-3-3 and that Bob Bradley used against Argentina in the 2011 1-1 friendly […]

    Reply

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