Photo by ISIphotos.com
You wanted more goals? Check.
You wanted a dominating victory? Check.
You wanted to see Michael Bradley have a great game? Check.
You wanted to see Eddie Johnson play well? Um, yeah, well, you can’t have it all.
The U.S. men’s national team put together a comprehensive 3-0 victory against an overmatched an uninspired Trinidad & Tobago team on Wednesday night and there were far more positives than negatives.
No, it wasn’t perfect. The attack squandered chances and Johnson was, well, awful in 23 minutes, but there were enough positives to go around from the U.S. team’s third World Cup qualifying won of the round.
You can start with the midfield, where Sacha Kljestan and Michael Bradley worked very well together. Kljestan has an attacking mindset that is considerably different from the other players Bradley has been paired with in the middle (Mastroeni, Edu and Clark) and this allowed Bradley to sit back a bit more and make him self available for all his teammates. He sprayed the ball around well and looked forward far more than in recent matches (T&T’s lack of pressure also helped)
The back-line was dominant but it had as much to do with the toothless T&T attack as it had to do with the Americans. Oguchi Onyewu dominated when he had to but was barely tested. Tim Howard was also light on action, with a diving stop in the second half the only really tough save he had to make all night.
You had Beasley showing much more energy and verve than he showed against Cuba, though I still think he showed some signs of rust. What matters is he showed progress and after the injuries he has had to deal with that is a very positive step.
You also had Dempsey showing some life and some energy to make you think that maybe, just maybe, that goal against Cuba will wake him up. Of course he still needs Roy Hodgson to start playing him or else he will risk getting rusty. Luckily for the national team, there probably aren’t any more crucial qualifiers this year and Dempsey will have a chance to leave Fulham in the January window to get some playing time if things don’t improve.
Now he is my take on Brian Ching. He isn’t a goal-machine, and he isn’t making anybody forget Brian McBride, but he can still serve a purpose on this team. Some folks get caught up in him being a target forward and thinking that the current U.S. team isn’t equipped to provide service from the flanks to make Ching effective. This ignores the fact that Ching is better with the ball at his feet that some realize, and he’s great at holding up the ball for teammates to make runs off him. The job should eventually fall to a player like Jozy Altidore, but for now, Ching doesn’t do a bad job.
Now it will be up to Bob Bradley to decide when to bring in the young players, the likes of Altidore and Adu and Cooper. I say do it ASAP. No, you don’t have to bring in a team full of inexperienced players, but we all know the players who have been on the outside looking in. The Americans are set to face Cuba without star player Roberto Linares, who drew a red card against Guatemala. The U.S. team should be able to beat Cuba at RFK Stadium next month with a few youngsters in the lineup.
Back to last night’s game. Here is a poll question for you. Which players performance impressed you the most?