- Posted by Drew Epperley
- On June 10, 2009
- 4 Comments
- Bob Bradley, Geoff Reid, US National Team
Editor’s Note: Geoff Reid appears on WVHooligan each week. Today he is back to talk about the recent World Cup qualifiers for the US. As always feel free to leave Geoff a note below.
I know itís almost been a week since the debacle in Costa Rica and I had a million and one different thoughts after that match, I thought it would be best to give it a few days and think about the game more clearly and compare it to Honduras.† Iíve always liked to give things at least 24 hours after a match to give a good account of what went on, even back in my college playing days.† On top of that, we just lost a member of my family this week so itís been a struggle to get this piece out this week but itís finally arrived.
My first thoughts after the horror show in San Jose was like most people: disgusted, embarrassed, ashamed even after that performance.† Normally I try to look for something good, even after those type of matches, but I donít think their was any after that defeat.† Every player underperformed on the night and the coaching staff must take responsibility for the preparation or lack their of.† Iím not one to get on Bob Bradleyís case after one defeat unlike some folks, heck I wrote an article on here not long ago defending him, but he clearly got some choices wrong tactically.† I can understand why he chose DaMarcus Beasely and Marvell Wynne at the full back positions because Beasley has experience and Wynne knows how to play on turf although the truf at BMO Field is better then the pitch at Saprissa which is strange I know.†
Putting the turf issues aside because thatís a talking point in itself, the commitment didnít seem there and the common sense just seemed missing, especially in the defensive third.† Tim Howard didnít communicate well enough with his defenders, Carlos Bocanegra and Oguchi Onyewu forgot the basic art of defending and didnít step up when the attackers reached the top of the 18 yard box.
The midfielders were very sloppy with their passing.† Pablo Mastoeni looks as if his national team days are done, at least as a starter which is a shame because heís been a good player for the side since 2002.† Michael Bradley was the best of the worst in that he and Jose Fransico Torres looked as they were the only ones who had any vision and passing ability.† Torres is an interesting subject because a lot of folks think he had a great game until he got subbed off at halftime.† I was just as shocked as to why Bradley took him out, it had to be for tactical reasons, and the reason why he was missing against Honduras was in my mind due to playing for Pachuca on the Sunday and then on the Wednesday although he didnít play 90 minutes in either match.† The fact remains he was horrible the first 10 minutes and some people seemed to forget that.
Landon Donovan looked larely invisible because he was forced to track back and help defend along with Clint Dempsey which gave the midfield no width and in turn, didnít give Jozy Altidiore any service up front and without Brian Ching, it made things that much harder and Altidiore was left to chase shadows.
Where Bob Bradley went wrong was the formation starting with a 4-3-3 although it was suppose to be more of a 4-5-1 and once the Ticoís went ahead after less then a minute the game plan changed obviously.† What the national team has looked like on the road under Bradley is solid defensively and organized while taking advantage of set pieces in the attacking third.† At the beginning most of us thought it was a bold move and liked it including myself, however, I did think it was unusual.† The bottom line in this match was Costa Rica did everything the US did not: pressed high, didnít allow the US any time on the ball and once the Ticoís won the ball back, they broke quickly and it helped their cause when no US player wanted to put in a challenge to tackle or block a shot.
The Honduras match was not the best performance in national team history, however, we couldnít have asked anything more from the response of the players.† The commitment, passion and determination was there for all to see.† It was certainly a fitting tribute to the 65th anniversary of D-Day and one every national team fan can be proud of.† No doubt they need to improve on every level in every position if the Confederations Cup will be a success.† Even if the Confederations Cup is classed as a success, people shouldnít get carried away because itís a friendly tournament and the one that really matters we all know is next summer.† If anything, a poor showing in South Africa might be a blessing in disguise and I say that because next summer other teams may underestimate the US side just like in 2002.† Either way it will be a useful measuring stick as to how far we have to go to competing with these big nations on a national stage.
Simply put I believe that the Costa Rica disaster was a blip in the road for qualification in CONCACAF.† Until the US can win in Saprissa and the Azteca, we wonít be classed as the best in the region officially.† Iíd like to see some powerhouses play in that atmosphere and at the Azteca at that altitude.† We all saw Bolivia demolish Argentina in La Paz 6-1 and nobody can honestly say that Bolivia is better then Argentina.† Costa Rica didnít have altitude, but it had the turf and when that kind of surface is used to play on, a passing game goes out the window.† The best way to get a result on those surfaces is to play the long ball and take advantage of set pieces which the US did neither.
We will qualify for South Africa next summer.† What Bradley and the rest of the coaching staff must do is evaluate what went wrong in San Jose, evaluate what happened at the Confederations Cup once itís done. What the teamís strengths and weaknesses are which we all understand and once we know who weíve been drawn against in group play, understand their strengths and weaknesses.† It sounds cliche and simple but itís far from easy.† In CONCACAF, the US can win on talent alone, but when it comes to the big tournaments with the big boys, that is simply not the case.