116street Soccer

Footballing from a lesser authority...

Location: New York, New York

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Round One Review

With the first round over, it is nice to see the U.S. Men are beginning to round into form. Watching last night's match on Telefutura, it was difficult to immediately see which formation the USA was using, but my guess of a 4-3-3 with Dempsey up top proved correct, and I was glad to see that Bob Bradley remains willing to experiment and use players outside of their "traditional" roles within the squad. What I was not happy to see was the continued shaky play of Michael Bradley, who at this point has done nothing to convince me that he deserves a spot ahead of Ricardo Clark in the National Team's plans.
Benny Feilhaber, meanwhile, continues to be a revelation in the center of midfield for the Stars and Stripes, full of versatility and skill, while Jonathan Spector seems to be making strides in terms of becoming more comfortable in a USA shirt. Oguchi Onyewu, meanwhile, continues to appear out of synch for the most part, although I'm not yet part of the "bench Gooch" movement that has seemed to pick up steam since the end of the World Cup.
My main observation about this iteration of the U.S. team is that it is evident that this squad has simply not had enough face time with each other as of yet. Without the continuity and experience provided by Brian McBride, Claudio Reyna, Eddie Pope and Steve Cherundolo, along with the depth that players like Cory Gibbs, Jimmy Conrad and even Josh Wolff have given the side, it should come as no surprise that the team has looked out of synch, even (especially?) against sub-par competition. New faces such as Bradley, Feilhaber, Clark, Jonathan Bornstein, Jay DeMerit, Frank Simek, Justin Mapp and Michael Parkhurst not only have to show that they fit the framework of the (still uncertain) USA plan, but they also have to impress technically. Is it any wonder they are out of synch? In retrospect, it is good that they played their toughest, most physically demanding match thus far in the first game; now they can focus on playing faster and in tighter spaces, while having experience in the pace and physicality of the tournament. I fully expect this U.S. team to win the Gold Cup, and hopefully, by the end, to have enough of a foundation to make a decent showing in Copa America.


Anonymous Matt said...

I thought Beasley and Dempsey were especially impressive last night, though you could argue that Beasley should have had at a hat trick or more.

I find myself in the "Bench Gooch" camp, at least for the time being. He's strong and big, but his anticipation is poor and he's been out of sorts ever since his move to Newcastle, the seventh circle of hell for central defenders. I'd love to see him regain form, but he's a liability at the moment.

We won't really know anything about this team under Bradley until we see what the can do at Copa America. A few decent performances there and I may start believing that US Soccer hired the right man. A string of blowouts and it's back to drawing board.

5:10 PM  

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