Thursday, June 20, 2013

Getting a Big Head: USMNT 1 - Honduras 0

Continuing our theme of not enough soccer and never enough beer, the farlieonfootie corporate staff gathered on Tuesday night to watch the US Men in action against Honduras at Coach Mark's bachelor pad.  The swanky soiree was catered with the best food that money could buy and a fairly decent selection of craft beers, as well: The Bruery (Mischief), Dogfish Head (75 Minute), and Lagunitas (Sumpin' Sumpin') were all represented. As was Goose Island (312 Urban Wheat), a beer which Correspondent Ed gets cranky about when we refer to it as a "craft," but as no one pays him any mind in the first place, his sulking in the corner brought no further disruption to the evening's festivities.
Despite the beer flowing liberally, we did manage to retain enough of our wits about us to keep at least some small impressions from last night's crucial 1-0 victory for the Nats, viz:
o Although we've always fancied the Great Gazoo to play the role of Michael Bradley when they make the movie about how the USA won the World Cup, Correspondent Ed made a decent case last night for Megamind.  We'll leave it up to you, our faithful readers, to make the final call:

Who Will Play the Role of Michael Bradley?  You Decide.

o Regardless of who plays the role, there's no denying the former coach's son has become an integral part of the US setup, and is probably our second most important player at this point -- trailing only the Deuce, Clint Dempsey.  He's definitely turned around our former thinking on the subject from a year and a half ago -- there's no denying that some time in Roma has helped our boy significantly "up" his game.
o Jozy Altidore has turned into a pretty decent center forward.  Scoring 24 golazzos in a single season in Europe will do that to you, we guess....  During the past month Altidore has displayed a depth and maturity to his game that we hadn't seen before, and his confidence has got to be sky high after his latest exploits.  His touch looked great, his runs were brilliant, and his hold up play was much better than average -- and that says nothing about his finishing, which is on a par right now with the best the US has ever seen. 
o Could it be be coincidence that the US offense has started to click under the tutelage of noted former goalscorer Jurgen Klinsmann, or could it just possibly be that the Nats' bossman might know a thing or two about putting the ball in the back of the net...?  Although we were early and ardent admirers of der Klinsi, many fans in the US camp needed some convincing -- and some still do.  To hell with his "inability to switch tactics in the middle of a game."  We're more interested in watching a team that looks as if it's beginning to understand how to truly play the game in the first place.  Did we ever see any sustained wide play under Bob Bradley? 

o And speaking of wide play, although his crosses were not flawless, Graham Zusi has caught our eye these last few games.  Adding width to the offense allows Clint Dempsey to become even more dangerous in the box -- and brings our height and physicality into every contest.  It's not that we want to see the US turn into a national version of Tony Pulis' men, but we're thinking more and more that this width is a key to our ability to breakthe other side down -- something the US has often been unable to do in the past.
o The defense still looks like a fledgling start-up's wesbite: "Under Development."  We're still not convinced by Damarcus Beasley's latest career resurrection, and there were several bad giveaways last night, with the one by former Notre Dame defender Matt Besler almost gifting Honduras a goal.  We do believe that the US ought to be able to fix the defense easier than the offense, though, so we're willing to give Klinsmann a pass on this one for a little while longer.  A solid back four will be the key to progressing in Brazil next summer, and the US still has a long way to go in that regard over the next 12 months.
o Jermaine Jones or Stu Holden?  We view Jones as the US player most likely to fall into a "red mist" during games, and can't help but hope that Stuey makes the long and tortuous way back into the Nats' lineup by Fall.  Some European playing time may help in that regard.
o Sitting top of the Hex ain't a bad place to be after six games.  Here's to enjoying the summer vacation and coming back strong in September.  On the whole this past month of US soccer has the feeling of a bit of a metamorphosis -- even if Correspondent Ed would have a hard time spelling that particular word.

This is farlieonfootie for June 20. 

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