|photo by *Micky||via PhotoRee|
Remember the bad old days? Apparently, neither does Correspondent Scott:
Now let's not jump to conclusions here, but that was a quality performance against a quality team. Getting the errors out of the way early, the US then settled down in the second half, maintained possession more and created chance after chance for an on-fire Jozy Altidore. Credit must also be given to Jurgen Klinsmann's tactical change and apparent pep talk at half time. And all without Clint Dempsey or Landon Donovan.
A demerit must be given to ESPN who mistakenly listed Bosnia-Herzegivina's Asmir Begovic in goal for the Americans on the pregame graphic. Come on, guys! Everybody on staff should have been able to realize that the Bosnian-sounding name had erroneously usurped the perennial American 'keeper with the American name, Tim Howard.
If I was excited to see Altidore ply his trade in the BPL again before, I'll now be losing sleep until Sunderland's first kickoff.
Eddie Johnson's lackadaisical care for the ball just outside his own 18 was to blame for the home side's first goal, despite Howard's first-shot heroics. Although both central defenders are also to blame for beseeching for offside rather than hustling to cover their goal line.
The next error that led to the 2-0 halftime score line is one that DRIVES ME NUT! On set pieces, you have to mark closely until the ball is COMPLETELY CLEARED. Second chance crosses that find now-open opponents will kill you every time!
But boy does 20 minutes getting spoken to harshly with a German accent make a difference (just ask every team our friend Olaf has coached)! Although possession was starting to swing to the US toward the end of the first half, clear scoring opportunities were lacking. But that all changed with a revamped formation and a little more hunger. Although the US Haters have been flooding the internet with how BH "called off the dogs" when they made three subs to start the second half, I don't believe that for a second. Only one of the three subs was critical - one was inconsequential and the last involved trading out a defender so flummoxed by Altidore that he had to pick up a yellow. And when two more subs were made after the Americans pulled within one goal, I can guarantee you that their coach was more concerned about maintaining his home unbeaten streak than about reining in canines. And it's not like Edin Dzeko called it an early night.
The fact of the matter is that the US ended the game with 60% possession and a number of shots on goal that equalled the Bosnian's. The difference was Altidore's inability to miss in the second half and Howard's point blank save of a second half header. Michael Bradley's play was inspired throughout and his ability to calm the field is evermore impressive.
A year ago there were rumors of locker-room strife and questions as to Klinsi's abilities. Now there is talk of a semi-final run in the World Cup. If you're not going forward, you're going backward. We know which direction this US team is headed. Let's just hope they can keep it up through July 2014, at a minimum.
This is farlieonfootie for August 15.