Photo by ISI Photos
Good morning everybody. If you are still talking about or thinking about the USA-Mexico game, don’t fret. You are not alone.
There is so much to talk about from that game but one thing I wanted to say is that while there are some issues raised from that game I really don’t think there is reason to be in panic mode about any particular aspect of the U.S. team because of that match.
Here are some issues I would like to touch on from the match after having watched it again:
Yes, the fullbacks were horrid but there are at least two better options at each position so there shouldn’t be a need for Ramiro Corrales or Drew Moor to see time in any World Cup qualifier this year.
Yes, the central midfield struggled but to say either Michael Bradley or Ricardo Clark was really bad is a stretch. Bradley was one of the U.S. team’s better players in the first half, but his second half wasn’t nearly as bad as some on this board suggested. He did have a couple of unforced turnovers but he also won tackles, made crucial challenges and covered well for the inept left flank tandem of Bobby Convey and Corrales. I wasn’t overly impressed with Clark but it is easy to forget that it was just his second competitive match in three months.
Bradley, Clark, Benny Feilhaber and Maurice Edu will all have chances to play in tough matches these coming months and concerns about whether this group will produce an effective central midfield tandem are a bit premature. They are certainly good enough to get the Americans through the next two rounds of qualifying and Bob Bradley is piling up the tough friendlies to get these players the experience they need.
What is the biggest cause for concern in my book? I would say the left wing position. DaMarcus Beasley isn’t likely to be around this summer as he continues recovering from major knee surgery so the onus was supposed to fall on Bobby Convey to pick up the slack. He was largely invisible on Wednesday night against Mexico, which was a bit disappointing considering he’s had some good efforts for Reading this season. Is he ready to be the guy come World Cup qualifying or will Bob Bradley have to call on veteran Eddie Lewis or an untested youngster like Brad Davis, Justin Mapp or Arturo Alvarez? Either way, this certainly makes you appreciate Beasley a LOT more.
Ultimately, we must always put things on context. If the ultimate goal is success in the World Cup then this period of time needs to be seen as a point during which quality prospects are developed. If there are growing pains then this is the time to have them. This year the U.S. team has World Cup qualifying against opponents that shouldn’t be a problem. Bob Bradley and US Soccer is balancing that out with a series of very tough friendlies this summer. The process should go a long way in helping the U.S. team identify which players will be major factors in 2009 and 2010.
As much as results are important, development is even more important, which is why I think some people lost the point of Wednesday night’s match. Yes, the rivalry means plenty to both teams, but the match meant just as much to Bradley’s evaluation of his roster. From that stand point, it was mission accomplished. Anyone complaining too loudly about the result is missing the ultimate point, which is to test his players and prepare them for when there is plenty more on the line.
Here is a question for you. What one development from Wednesday night’s match, either good or bad, stood out for you? Share your thoughts below.