That was a tale of two halves last night. Just some random thoughts, Graham Zusi continues to impress and is executing well from is midfield position. Altidore is in top form...finally. The commentators didn't say much, but Mike Bradley was solid. I haven't been a fan of his, but thought he looked very good last night. Finally, what do you do with Jermaine Jones? He is a maddening player to watch- one moment he is brilliant and the next moment he is brilliantly bad.
Second half US squad played with pace and executed well. Klinsmann had them playing up top with high pressure and a quick tempo...I liked it.
Its worth noting that in the first half the U.S. looked lethargic and tentative. It might have been the heat or lack of confidence. In any event, the second half was much better.
It was an interesting game and you've got some great points. Zusi does look good, though his delivery last night was not as good as it has been. Some of the corner kicks, especially, looked off. But I'd say that for the whole team. Not sure if it really was a case of having a problem trying to unlock a team with 10 behind the ball, but I saw more "junk" from the U.S. than I had seen in a while. Too many backheels to no one, dummies that didn't find a tuck in runner, and there was a stretch from the mid first half to a few minutes into the second where I felt like I was watching England play a Route 1 game. Long balls up the middle that were easily choked out.
I've always been a Bradley fan, so I'm coming at this from the other side. The charges of nepotism were just junk when his dad was in charge, but he did need to mature and has done so. I think that frustrating 1/2 season at Villa was really good for him, and he has come into his own as the most indispensible player on the field for the Americans. Jones has had some great games, and some bad ones. Last night was one of the latter. I prefer Cameron in that role right now, but it is a trade off. With Jones on the field Bradley and Jones have a good understanding and split the defensive and offensive responsibilities, with Cameron on the field Bradley takes a more forward role and they become a bit more predictable. But Cameron seems more steady if not quite as athletic. In qualifying I think Cameron is a better asset. If you have to win on an explosive counter, Jones might be of better benefit. Although Cameron's long passes have been very, very good.
The player that really concerns me is Gomez. I know he is young, and inexperienced especially at this level, but he just seems to fall asleep every game. He needs to be able to concentrate for 90 minutes, and I still haven't seen that out of him except for the Mexico game. In these games where the U.S. is dominant, he seems to lapse out, and that is no good for a centre back. Bessler on the other hand, has been a revelation. I do worry about the outside backs as well. F. Johnson is wasted in that role, much better than E. Johnson as a winger and not as good a positional defender as Beasley, but Beasley is too small. And Evans... well, we'll see. I don't want to pass judgement on him since he has been in an unusual position and playing well, but he doesn't strike me as a natural in that position. Just a step slow and without the experience to make it up positionally. Dolo is too old for me to want to rely on him, though he has more than paid his dues in an American uniform.
13 points is great at this stage. Leading the group is great at this stage. The U.S. definitely looks good to qualify for Brazil without taking it to the nail-biting wire. The team looks to have much more cohesiveness and understanding of the roles Klinsmann wants them to play. I think a lot of that is the month long camp they have gotten out of this. Not playing in the Confed Cup is a real downer, as another week or two together would really help this team and it is clear we are not taking a first choice team into the Gold Cup.
On the other hand, I'm hoping the Gold Cup helps bring a bit more depth into the fullback and centre back positions. We could also use another striker or two, though Landon, Dempsey, E. Johnson can all fill that role. Terrance Boyd, as he showed with an amazingly bad decision against Germany, simply isn't tactically ready.