May 30, 2012; Landover, MD, USA; USA midfielder Fabian Johnson (23) and Brazil forward Hulk (20) battle for the ball in the first half at FedEx Field. Brazil won 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE
Can you honestly say you expected the Yanks to win this one? Well, after the 5-1 hammering dealt to Scotland perhaps US fans had good reason to. Reality check friends...Brazil is way better than Scotland. Let us mow through some random thoughts together about the team and the game!
Defense: Timid on the ball, dynamic outside
Oguchi Onyewu's size may no longer offset his liability. Gooch is timid with the ball. He makes panicky, simple passes that are predictable and with minimal pressure are disrupted--usually with devastating consequences. He was heavy and flat footed conceding dangerous breakaways and looked completely gassed in the 66th minute when Neymar hit the post. Watch Bocanegra and Onyewu on the fourth goal by Pato, they watch the ball go over their heads, lazily turn around, make no attempt to shut down a shooting lane and watch it become a blowout.
Steve Cherundolo and Fabian Johnson played quite well in my estimation showing a good balance of speed and creativity going forward on the flanks. Fabian Johnson looks like Noah Wyle. Fabian Johnson also appears to be the entire package, the real deal and solution to the left back crisis that has plagued the USMNT dating back to 2009. JK can be confident employing Johnson for a full 90 with Eric Lichaj providing depth. With Cherundolo at age 33, one has to wonder if there is a succession plan in place for 2014 at RB. Rhode Island native Michael Parkhurst was inserted late in the game to replace Cherundolo a move I disagree with as it takes Parkhurst away from the best parts of his game; awareness and clever distribution. I'd take the more cerebral Parkhurst at CB over Onyewu any day.
The overall problem with our defense is its inability to react and recovery after a simple finesse touch by the opposition. Whether it's Spain or Brazil all it takes is one back heel, one dummy pass and our entire defense gets disorganized and devolves into chaos.
America breeds midfielders.
Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones are in stud like form and pair very well together. I do worry about a lack of ball skills in one on one situations with Edu, Jones and Bradley. We know they have great vision and can distribute very well but who of these three is beating someone one on one? In a 4-3-3 we can assume the majority of dribbling will be outsources to the wings but is there is still a need for a dynamic player who can dribble past people? Yes and immediately Freddy Adu comes to mind, for his Gold Cup 2011 performance against Mexico where in a pressure game against Mexico he seemed like the only American who actually wanted the ball and was comfortable on it. JK says he wants a "nastier" US on the field, well, the Bash Brothers opening can be filled by Bradley, Jones or Edu. They look straight up fierce.
Start Gomez if you want goals.
Hercules Gomez returned to the starting line up and he should never leave. We've yet to see Donovan and Dempsey employed at the same time for an entire match but one can imagine with Gomez up top, supplemented by Dempsey and Donovan it could be a ferocious attack. Fans should be very excited for Dortmund product Terrence Boyd. The kid is a beast and will only improve.
Marcelo is an absolute dirt-bag.
He should have been red carded for his ridiculous double-footed cleats up malicious attempt at Steve Cherundolo. There is no justification for him to remain on the field. He clearly was upset after he being fouled, extended his feet unnecessarily with the only intent being to injure Cherundolo. He scored less than five minutes after this episode. The ref sends a very bad message when he cards people for legitimate slide tackles and a simple whistle for malicious attempts to the face. Speaking of nasty, who ever was due to come off as a sub for the US should have made it their job to make a hard foul and change the tempo and tie in some emotion to the match. Send a message please, this is the USA and there are consequences for your actions. Make the next guy think twice before he goes in for a 50/50 ball.
At the end of the day...
The Yanks need to stop cowering the second they concede a goal, their entire demeanor changes and the style of play shows it. They lose all confidence and resort to simple, predictable plays that are easily dismantled with pressure. The scoreline didn't reflect the hard effort the US put in the second half with several very good attempts on net all thwarted. Against Scotland...those all went in. We'll see what happens against Canada on Sunday.
Let's end on some good news!