TSG: Check back for the full review first thing in the morning if not sooner.
As Matthew excellently pointed out at half, the US wasn’t playing as a team in the first half and couldn’t figure out what style they were supposed to play — possession through the middle or a boomer-and-prayer.
The US did play dramatically different in the second half (but “dramatically” can only be used since the first half was so poor). Thankfully, one of Rico Clark’s two good touches all night was a wicked blast that bent away from keeper and found the back of the net. Then the US held on for another close victory against a supposedly inferior opponent.
In the second half, we did see the USMNT link some passes and hold possession. However, with the generally uneven and sloppy play versus El Salvador and again today, I kept thinking back to that Seinfeld episode where Jerry is at the rental car place and they ran out of cars.
Jerry: I don’t understand, I made a reservation, do you have my reservation?
Agent: Yes, we do, unfortunately we ran out of cars.
Jerry: But the reservation keeps the car here. That’s why you have the reservation.
Agent: I know why we have reservations.
Jerry: I don’t think you do. If you did, I’d have a car. See, you know how to take the reservation, you just don’t know how to *hold* the reservation and that’s really the most important part of the reservation, the holding. Anybody can just take them.
But can you put all the fault on the players? If your defense is struggling do you start a mid-field that is possessionally-challenged? (yes, I made that word up) The biggest thing I am left wondering is how this game would have been different if Feilhaber started. (And that isn’t coming from any undue adoration for guy, rather from the seemingly unique skill set he brings the team.)
On to the defense…perhaps I was a little harsh on the defense in the first half. Regardless, they did play better in the 2nd. Gooch seemed to play his way into the flow, was strong on headers and held-up well in his tough match-up versus Jones. Boca rebounded nicely. Meanwhile the wingbacks didn’t get any worse…which at this point, is a positive.
I’m leaving the full critique of Bob and Friends (Lando, Howard, Holden, etc.) to Matthew in the review, but I’ll just finish with this…
For at least the next 75 minutes or so, the US is at the top of the CONCACAF standings (yeah!), but this game is another in a disturbing trend of making things harder than they should have been. Or, on the other hand, this may be exactly what the USMNT is…a squad that is only marginally better than others in the top six of CONCACAF.
Which do you think?