What’s the best way to describe the U.S. national team’s 1-0 loss to Spain on Wednesday? Let’s call it promising, if not quite yet good enough.
Yes, Spain dominated possession for long stretches and created the better chances, but the U.S. played well in the first half and the U.S. defense was also able to thwart most of Spain’s chances and hold up pretty well against a dangerous Spain attack. Save for Xavi’s jaw-dropping run for Spain’s lone goal, and a Xavi free kick and Marcos Senna shot off the woodwork, Spain was unable to break down the USA back-line.
We also saw Freddy Adu enjoy a very good showing in 45 minutes of action before leaving at halftime with an injury. I have a story coming today on ESPN.com about Adu’s performance against Spain which basically states that Adu showed he is ready to take on a bigger role with the national team. If he can play on Sunday like he did on Wednesday I think Bob Bradley will have a hard time keeping Adu out of the U.S. lineup for the qualifiers.
There were complaints from the match as well. Michael Bradley had a strong first half but tired in the second half and should have been replaced with 20-25 minutes left in the match. Clint Dempsey’s recent funk continued and Josh Wolff’s ineffectiveness (some would say uselessness) was on display again, but I think Dempsey looks tired and I think Wolff will soon make way for the MLS contingent of attacking prospects (we can only hope).
Then there was Eddie Johnson. Johnson worked hard and had a promising first half, but as has become the norm with Johnson, he just flat wastes good chances. As the target man in a 4-2-3-1, Johnson was supposed to get into position for chances, which he did, but he also wasted them with weak shots or poor passes (and an extremely weak header on a beautiful cross from Eddie Lewis).
As frustrating as Johnson can be, he still has the tools to potentially be useful come World Cup qualifying, at least the next two rounds anyway. He has the speed to blow buy lower level CONCACAF defending, but has shown repeatedly that he can’t be counted on against top competition. At least not yet (if ever).
I also think the "Over the Hill" gang, otherwise known as Eddie Lewis and Frankie Hejduk, still merit call-ups. Lewis is playing at a high level right now and should get playing time in qualifying while Hejduk is a good back-up for Steve Cherundolo at right back.
So in short, the defense was good but the attack, aside from Adu, just wasn’t good enough. Hopefully the infusion of players like Landon Donovan (if healthy), Jozy Altidore and Kenny Cooper will help things on Sunday, and in the upcoming rounds of World Cup qualifying, but as it stands right now the U.S. attack just isn’t good enough.
What did you think of the Spain match? Share your thoughts, complaints, highlights and lowlights below.