|photo by Fabian Bromann||via PhotoRee|
If one were searching for subtle differences between the Bob Bradley era and the Jurgen Klinsman era in US Soccer there are plenty of signs apparent to the observant viewer -- the US' recent friendly victories in Italy and Mexico to name just a couple -- and last night gave us yet another: when's the last time you remember the Nats grabbing an away goal in a World Cup qualifier before the contest was even a minute old? Strike another first for Klinsman and US Men's soccer, as Clint Dempsey took the scoring honors, receiving a surprise start and the ball at his feet in front of a gaping net within the same sixty seconds.
But as evidence that the team remains a work in progress one need look no further than minutes two through ninety of the same game. The US allowed the Jamaicans to boss the midfield, and although the game was not decided in open play, the US never generated enough scoring opportunities to deserve a win -- or even a draw for that matter. The resulting 2-1 loss puts significant pressure on Klinsi and the Nats to rebound with a win over the very same island nation side in only four day's time -- that the second game will be played in the slightly friendlier confines of Columbus, Ohio has to be counted on as a significant advantage.
Although Jamaica equalized halfway through the first 45, their opening goal was not due to a total US team breakdown, but rather two Kyle Beckerman gifts: the first when he committed a weak attempt at a tackle just outside of the 18 yard box, and the second coming as he deflected the resulting free kick past a flummoxed Tim Howard to give the home side their equalizer. By this point in the action US fans were likely asking if Beckerman -- he of the rastafarian dreadlocks -- was momentarily confused as to which side he was playing for.
The game muddled back and forth for the rest of the first half and the majority of the second half, as well -- Klinsi's not a miracle worker, after all -- before the Jamaicans seized the advantage with a half hour left, from yet another free kick, this one from closer to 25 yards out. Luton Shelton took the honors and the three points on offer for Jamaica with a swerving stunner that beat Tim Howard to the far post, the kick the result of continued Jamaica pressure on an American side that lacked several of its best players, including Landon Donovan and Michael Bradley.
It's back to the drawing board as the pressure mounts on the current edition of the US Men's National Team -- we'll learn an awful lot about the team and its new coach by watching how they react to the latest setback.
This is farlieonfootie for September 9.
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