Coach Mark and Correspondent Ed weigh in on the USMNT's advancing through the Group of Death to the Round of 16:
So we backed into the next round. There is no sport in the world that can bring you that anti-climatic feeling like soccer. We lost, and we won at the same time. Muted high fives everywhere.
You got to like the competitiveness of this team. The team has the personality of Jermaine Jones, Michael Bradley and Kyle Beckerman, which is 100% scrappy hustle. Unfortunately it also has their offensive skill set.
Bradley has looked like a defensive mid pretending to be an attacking mid the whole tournament. Jones ended up playing target man part of the game because he's the only player on our offense who has the physical strength to compete for balls with a player on his back. We had a terrible time controlling the ball in our midfield to come into the attack.
I think Clint Dempsey's doing a good job faking the striker position. He's not fast enough to go by anybody, and not strong enough to play target, but he's got such a great feel getting in good spots and is the only guy with any precision on the team so he can survive.
I thought Omar Gonzalez was terrific today. Horribly tough spot to be put into, but he was a beast in the air, and showed a faster recovery step than Geoff Cameron. I think Cameron had a terrible game the other day, but he's a player. I would not mind seeing him sub into the defensive midfield to end a game. I thought it was kind of lousy that he got pulled after such a rough game when he was so solid during qualifying, but Gonzalez justified the decision, at least for today.
This team's Achilles' Heel is a complete lack of speed and precision on the offensive side. Dempsey and Graham Zusi (who I thought was very good today) are the only two offensive creators who have any precision on the final pass or shot. But neither of those two guys has the speed to threaten vertically.
Bradley's been just awful in front of the goal. Bedoya is basically an invisible player, and plays like a third outside fullback with a hustle-only game and Brad Davis showed why he got passed over three times for World Cups when he was in his prime. He's too slow and not tough enough on defense. It was a miracle we survived him today.