Oh boy, here we go again…
Yes, I’m back, first blog entry in a while (since when do 6000 people read my MLS Power Rankings?) and I know that you’re all excited to read my soccer entries.
I’m not. Just months after the US MNT won their semifinal qualifying group by the skin of their teeth, Jurgen Klinsmann and his boys get
thumped 2-1 at Honduras to start the final CONCACAF WCQ round, also known as “The Hex.” I want to write about happy things. Good games where I write about things the USA can improve on, not awful things that need to be blown up…like our defense.
I’ve never done one of these before, but I’m posting a separate player ratings entry with to give a little more info on the how the individual players did, because this entry is going to focus on a broader problem with the US MNT.
For starters, I’d like to thank BeIN Sports/TV or whatever the hell you call yourselves for making it nearly impossible to watch USA away games. I understand you have the rights to the CONCACAF stuff due to a very complicated broadcasting system for international soccer (basically each country/federation only controls their home games). Dear FoxSoccer / ESPN, if you guys ever lose a bidding war (ESPN’s Alexi Lalas says there was never an offer to do the USA away games from anyone but whatever, I think I heard this from his Twitter feed which I’m not counting as a source) to a station that is not even in this hemisphere again, I hope you both go bankrupt. Seriously, ESPN can get all of the Mexico qualifiers but not USA? Spare me your excuses, this stuff matters to some of us and it’s a joke that I have to leave my house and miss the first thirty minutes of the game trying to find an establishment that has DirecTV.
Secondly, the actual game itself wasn’t terrible. I’m actually a fan of the USA dominating the midfield and building up attacks with possession. Not that they did either of those effectively against Honduras, but when it did happen there was good soccer, capped off by Jermaine Jones’ brilliantly weighted ball that sent Clint Dempsey (and Eddie Johnson) through on goal with an equally brilliant first time volley to the back corner of the net. It’s hard to say what the USA did wrong on the Honduran equalizer. It’s a corner that’s so bad it ends up on the other wing, it’s re-centered and
bicycled in past Howard very quickly. Sure the cross could have been contested better on the wing but Geoff Cameron/Michael Bradley were marking their men well enough that the bike/overhead kick was about the only thing Honduras’ Juan Carlos Garcia could do. The winner however is a completely different story. Where to begin…Gonzalez is watching it, Cameron has no idea what to do with it, Howard doesn’t help anything, Gonzalez is still watching it and Jerry Bengston has a tap-in. Ugh. Then after that goal, the USA actually shows some life and energy and tries to scrape an equalizer but it’s too little, too late, game started at 4PM EST guys, it’s almost 6PM.
Third, if these are the results that Klinsmann is going to give us, then I’m going to say this: If Bob Bradley can get fired for making the Round of 16 at the WC, when does Klinsmann get canned for having us at the bottom of the table? I’m serious. I’m putting about 70-75 percent of the blame for this loss on Klinsmann. His defensive back four selections for this game was laughable and ineffective at best. Tim Howard spent most of his day bailing them out, watching them get beat and failing to clear the ball out of the defensive third. If my boy Jerry Bengston (NE Revolution, MLS DP) put any shot on goal other than the winner this could’ve been 4-1 Honduras. But that’s okay, Carlos Bocanegra was on the bench for reasons that elude me. I understand that Omar Gonzalez, Geoff Cameron and the now cap-tied Timmy Chandler are the future defensive unit. That’s for Russia 2018, not Brazil 2014. That means Bocanegra and Steve Cherundolo (who missed the game with an injury) are in the starting
lineup. Period. For more on Timmy Chandler and the rest of the defense, you’ll have to go to my player ratings entry, they’re kinda the focal point of my angst.
This game (and the qualifying cycle in general) proves just how badly the USA misses Landon Donovan. There was no wing play today for several
reasons, mainly because USA didn’t have any wingers. Clint Dempsey apparently is now a striker, Brek Shea was too injured to join the national team (but he can transfer to Stoke) and Landon is MIA. Fine, Eddie Johnson did a decent job on the left side for a guy that normally plays striker and he was clearly more effective than Danny Williams who continues to get caps despite never doing anything. And I like Danny, but he’s not a starter at this level yet. I didn’t have a problem with Jozy Altidore up front but he didn’t have a good strike partner. I would have rather seen Herculez Gomez up front with Dempsey on the outside mid. Michael Bradley was rendered ineffective because of the complete breakdown of the USA formation, which should ALWAYS be a 4-4-2. PERIOD. This is America, let’s not try to be something that we’re not. We play defense, have
box to box midfielders and we don’t have silly miscommunications that lead to soft goals because our center backs are sleeping. By the way, Omar, Jerry Bengston is behind you.
Here’s how the formation should have been at the start of the game, reading left to right: Howard; F. Johnson, Cameron, Bocanegra,
Chandler; E. Johnson, Bradley, Jones, Dempsey; Altidore, Gomez
Am I crazy? I understand there were limits to this particular USA roster and it’s a very odd, one time game on the road with a roster than came together apparently on Monday? Why though?
I didn’t post anything on the USA-Canada friendly because it was pointless. Essentially, a USA MLS All-Star team played the Canadian Olympic team (U-23 with De Rosario and Dunfield) in a scoreless draw that Klinsmann used to fill out his bench and third keeper spot (Chicago Fire keeper Sean Johnson had a solid game in net though). You know what might have been a good idea coach? Trying to figure out who’s going to start at defense in the opener against Honduras. That means calling up Chandler and the rest of the European based players into camp and working on communication and chemistry. I don’t give a hoot if that pisses off their clubs, this is WCQ on FIFA international dates. If you know that you’re
starting right back (Cherundolo) isn’t playing, why not see who can replace him? I’m all for getting a lot of guys capped and bringing up the MLS guys to see who can hack it with the A-Team, but not for qualifying. You have to have your best players in camp for two weeks, European clubs be damned. This isn’t politics, it’s soccer, no playing nicey-nice with the Euros because they don’t like our qualifying schedule. Tottenham will just have to find someone else to score goals in the spring while Clint Dempsey scores for the USA. Clearly the tail end of last year proved that the USA has dropped back to the pack. You just can’t show up at Honduras and Jamaica and Guatemala and just expect to win anymore without anything less than your full side. You’re going to play games on crap fields, during a monsoon or 90 degrees with 90 percent humidity against teams that are gunning for you.
So for the love of Sam’s Army act like you want to be there. Or stay in Germany. Yes, that was directed at you Chandler, welcome to the US
MNT. Now park your butt on the pine and thank Jamaica for a scoreless draw at Azteca against Mexico. Because the USA sits only one point behind Mexico…
And El Tri have dropped two points at home.