Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Aftermath: Belgium 2 - USMNT 1 (Continued, Part 2/3)

photo by robert.melokvia PhotoRee

Mark: When you look at it from a shots-on-goal standpoint it's easy to be dark. We spent most of the tourney on the wrong end of a shooting gallery. But that happens when you are playing counter attacking soccer. The problem was we left the only good counter attacking player in the country at home. I don't think green was the answer although he had a big play. I think we did "ok" but I think it was in spite of our coaching not because of it. My coach rank for Cups is Bruce Arena, Bora Milutinovic followed by a tie with Bob Bradley and Klinsmann,  and Steve Sampson is a distant last.

B* (Name changed to protect the innocent): I agree. No one will ever be able to convince me that Klinsmann does not regret his choice to exclude Landon Donovan. More specifically, I believe that regret flashed brightly in front of him when Chris Wondolowski missed from point blank, as Donovan buries that goal. US soccer is heading in the right direction, but we need goal scorers in a major way.

Scott: I'm still sick about the whole thing. Wondo was put in the game for exactly that reason. Feel bad for him.

I'm probably too much of an optimist, but I disagree with Mark about Klinsmann's ranking and I think he is dragging US soccer forward. The problem is, we all want it to happen faster than it is. We are light years away from 1990 and 1994, and we will only continue to improve. Just look at where our expectations are now and how disappointed we are when we get knocked out. I wish there were a way we could do it every year, because we improve every cycle and, mark my words, in another 20 years USA will be among those teams that can actually win the whole thing. Granted, I said something similar after 1994 - it's just happening slowly....

I have to agree with the comment about MLS. For us to do significantly better before 20 years from now, we need more players playing in top leagues. MLS will catch up one day (or at least close the gap enough) but until that happens it doesn't give our national team players what they need, with few exceptions.

We said all along that we would need to play our best and then get lucky to go very deep in this tournament. Well, we got lucky against Ghana and then Belgium for 90 minutes, but only Tim Howard played his best so we got bounced. And yet, it was still there for the taking with Wondo's miss and when we had them pinned to the ropes for the last 10 min of extra time.

Searching for the good, I point at those last 10 min. Quite frankly, I think it is more amazing that we didn't score during that time.

I agree with the Michael Bradley positioning comments and that we lacked the attacking center-mid we needed to link play. I'm still positive about Bradley going forward.

Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler were pretty solid and DeMarcus Beasley, remarkably, was as well. I was disappointed in Graham Zusi and Alejandro Bedoya and also a little in Clint Dempsey. Even with Thibault Courtois rushing out, I think he could have done better with that planned free kick.

At the end of the day, it's not like we were going to win the whole thing so at least now I can get a little more work done.

B*: All good observations. I like Klinsmann, and really liked our play for about 70 minutes in the Portugal game where we controlled possession. What I don't like is the lack of strikers, true offensive strikers, that plagues our team. That deficiency is what made the Donovan omission so startling to me. Donovan has the opportunity that Wondolowski had in the 91st minute to win and he buries it. Given we did not have Jozy Altidore, we were a bit doomed offensively as eventually Zusi and crew would play more to their normal human levels as opposed to the games of their life that they played against Ghana and Portugal.

Bottom line, with Howard's superhuman efforts we had a chance to win the game at the end of regulation, Jones executed a killer header and Wondolowski couldn't even put the ball on frame. If the US seriously wants to contend, we need goal hounds, and this team lacked that element. Great run, we turned heads, but with the athletes that we have we should be in the quarters every year. US Soccer needs to start a campaign that focuses on how bad concussions are in the NFL and get some of those guys into soccer. If Adrian Peterson played soccer, or Reggie Bush, lights out! GO USA!
This is farlieonfootie for July 3.

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