U.S. Men's National Team

Spain loss provides experience for young USMNT defenders

Eric Lichaj Spain(ISIPhotos.com)


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – A 4-0 loss is never a good result for defender, but after the USMNT's 4-0 loss to Spain at Gillette Stadium Saturday, head coach Bob Bradley said the experience of playing against the reigning World Cup champions will help two of his young defenders in the long run.

Both Eric Lichaj and Tim Ream made mistakes during Saturday's game, but they also both put in 90 minutes, and each had some moments in which he defended well. Overall, Bradley said, the game was a good learning experience for the young players.

"These are the type of lessons that we think help players," Bradley said. "These are good games for Timmy Ream … He got tested today at a different level."

Ream didn't pass all of Saturday's tests. He made an awkward challenge on Xabi Alonso that led to a Spanish scoring opportunity, and he was unable to recover after Alvaro Negredo got behind him for Spain's second goal.

But Ream also made some good decisions during the match, and Bradley praised his passing in the post-game press conference.

"You learn a lot of things: positioning, communication, continuing to get better with that," said Ream about his experience against Spain. "Obviously, you learn from the things that you didn't do so well. You go back and look at the game and you tweak a few things."

Asked if he thought he had shown enough on Saturday to earn a more playing time during the Gold Cup, Ream said he wasn't sure, but he'll keep trying to improve either way.

"It's up to Bob, if he feels that I'm ready and that I can contribute and play games, then so be it," Ream said. "If not, then I'll keep working and hopefully get in a game or two."

Saturday's match was Lichaj's first experience at left back with the national team; he had been playing the position regularly while on loan to English League Championship club Leeds United this season.

Bradley said he had watched some of Lichaj's performances at Leeds, and decided Saturday's match was a good opportunity to try the 22 year-old at left back for the national team. Asked to assess the defender's performance after the game, Bradley said he had seen "some good and some bad."

"When it comes to straight, one-on-one type duels, Eric actually stands up pretty well in those situations, but now, when things are happening faster and he's got to figure out what's in front of him and where's his line and is his position right and make those kinds of decisions, it's hard," Bradley said.

Both Ream and Lichaj are still developing as players. It's possible that neither of them will see much playing time during the Gold Cup. But getting them international experience, especially against quality opponents like Spain, strengthens the entire team in the long run, Bradley said.

"As we go through the Gold Cup now, whatever situation arises, we've been able to put players on the field and test some of the different combinations," Bradley said. "I think it just helps us down the road."

  • Louis Z

    I think you memory failed you. at least one goal started from the right side, gooch and ream backed up the right defender and didn’t even bother to look for the cut-off man coming right down the middle. did we really needed to have triple stack on the right? probably not.


  • jh

    Bornstein has more recovery speed than Boca, and against some of the quicker forwards that this Gold Cup bring the US against, someone that is a little more fleet of foot like Johnny B or Lichaj could be a good option.

    I’m no Bornstein fan in general, but the guy played a good WC. Maybe he plays a good GC for us too?


  • Henry

    Because Mexico’s forwards are too fast. Players like chicharito will out run circles around them.


  • GW

    If you go by the Spain game Jonny Boy and Lichaj are about equal as defenders ( JB a little better) and both suck at attacking.

    Actually Lichaj looked a lot like JB at his worst last night. Just goes to show you that being a fine Right Back doesn’t alway mean you can translate it to the left side.

    Hopefully he will improve but there is absolutely no guarantee of that.

    IF BB is honest with himself his best defensive LB, right now is Boca, JB and Lichaj in that order. He has no attacking left backs.


  • GW

    “This game taught nobody anything.

    You think we learned a thing about any player? No, we did not. We continue to throw out teams of B/C players and expect to “see what they’re capable of.” Well, that isn’t how comparisons work.”

    So tell me Mike, how does it work?


  • GW


    How slowly?

    Agudelo and Ream play for RBNY and Lichaj probably will play for Leeds United; how likely is it that any of them will have a chance to play a bunch of guys as good as Spain anytime in the near future?

    The US will be focused on the Gold Cup and CONCACAF WC qualifying so it might be a while before a team like Spain gets on the schedule


  • baller


    My Dream:
    Agudelo-Davies(the 2009 version)


  • Nate

    That’s not fair to Tim. Two of those goals were caused by the defenders in front of him…which include Ream.


  • Brian

    If you’re gonna go with the 2009 version of Davies, why not go with the 2009 version of Gooch? He was a beast in the Confederations Cup.


  • Leo

    Actually, “Mike” did make his opinion known about how it’s done.

    Whether he’s correct or not is up for debate, but you being too lazy to read his full post isn’t.


  • Stephen

    Well, he’s got a lot of competition on the German team at the two positions he plays…so…


  • Stephen

    They got beat on the right side at least two of the goals came off of a deep run into the box from the right side and then a pass to the runner from the middle. There wasn’t much damage done from the left.


  • Stephen

    Yeah. He looked good with the Nats in the game I saw, don’t remember which one…maybe South Africa?


  • Stephen

    I like the 3 back idea, but that is the slowest back line we could put out and we would need quicker defenders for cover. Goodson in the middle and Boca on the left would not be too bad, but Gooch would not see the field in that formation for me.

    We did move to that formation against Slovenia in the second half to put in another attacker and looked ok…


  • GW

    I read the full post. I’d just like a better explanation than that because I doubt it’s that simple.


  • Stephen

    I thought Lichaj put in some decent crosses, what little chances he got…not the best but decent.


  • Stephen

    Yeah, we all know Holden would be starting if he wasn’t hurt. I am beginning to wonder if that will be a pattern over the course of his Nat career…but, God I hope not.


  • Creige

    Paraguay. I should temper my opinion of Lichaj because he is so young. I’m just incredibly frustrated that BB has ignored some obvious talent and potential and then picks Bornstein and Rogers who have both hit their ceiling. I like BB but he may have taken us as far as he can.


  • dhawk

    I think it’s time to stop ragging specifically on the defense and realize that the entire team needs to mark properly. The midfield marked horribly in the first half yesterday. We tend to play very far off of the opposition everywhere on the field and chase after whoever has the ball with multiple men. The only way to mark someone (especially a player that is gifted technically) is to be right on them, no more than an arm’s length away. You use your entire body to defend, not just your feet.


  • ThaDeuce

    A few months ago i wouldn’ t have disagreed, but now i think i do. You are not crazy at all. In fact you are quite normal. But i would call you singularly minded or anti-dualist. My national team is made up of the best team of Americans. I don’t care if they are dual citizens and hypothetically chose “them” over us. If they are rejected, that is our good fortune. If they don’t give one hundred percent, Bob won’t play ’em. But I’ll still cheer for the USA as loudly as possible. That doesn’t mean carte blanche on performance critiques, though.


  • JimmyJoe

    64,000 plus paid a LOT of money to watch basically a ‘B’ team scrimmage. If the US is not going to field it’s best team in a game like this then they should say so up front and I would have stayed home and not wasted my money.

    Saving it for the Gold Cup? then don’t schedule Spain at a time we don’t intend to compete. I was embarrassed, disappointed and angry at what I saw. I’m now concerned about our status for the Gold Cup. With Mexico and Costa Rica’s big results, and us getting beat like a circus monkey… I question if Bradley can turn us around quickly. When you get beat like that… it does a job on the whole team and Bradley is KNOWN for putting teams on the field that are not ready to play.


  • JeffM in CHI

    Stu Holden doesn’t get hurt. Sadly, he gets HACKED!

    But, yes, no Stu in the 11 or off the bench is big, big loss.


  • Stephen

    I don’t care what anyone says, that was not Spain’s B-team. They had 6 or 7 of their starting WC 11.


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