The U.S. Men’s National Team scored two goals for the second time in 2018 in their 4-2 loss to Colombia on Thursday.
The issues up top have lingered throughout the calendar year due to the integration of new players, lack of chemistry and a weakened depth chart at the position.
During the second-half surge that briefly put the USMNT ahead, Julian Green and Bobby Wood played well in what interim manager Dave Sarachan called a two-forward system.
“I thought both Julian and Bobby had solid nights tonight,” Sarachan said. “Julian is an important player in that position to keep possession and threaten. He certainly is aggressive trying to get to goal. In the first half, he beat a guy and had a good shot. Overall, he had a pretty good night.”
The top moment produced by the pair came on the second goal, which was netted by Wood in the 53rd minute.
Green dug into a challenge at midfield to stop Colombia from creating yet another surge into the final third and then he played a nice ball over to Timothy Weah, whose perfect assist found the feet of Wood.
Although it was a small spell of success, the USMNT forwards gave us a glimpse into how they can play when they actually get time on the ball.
In theory, the forwards would receive more support from the outside backs, but they were occupied with the Colombian attack, as they have been for the last few games.
“I just think tonight we used more of a two forward system with Julian and Bobby,” Sarachan said. “I thought Bobby had a good night tonight holding up balls and bring aggressive. I think the ability in my mind when we can get our outside backs advanced and I think Antonee had the first assist. But when Antonee gets in a good spot and DeAndre gets in a good spot, it allows better numbers centrally and I think in a good part of the start of the second half we had that balance better. Your odds of creating chances go up when you put numbers in front of goal. That was a big part of us being a little bit more dangerous.”
Until Jozy Altidore is eventually called back into the squad, Wood is the No. 1 forward on the depth chart, and it was crucial for him to get on the scoresheet after bagging a brace Hannover in his final club game before the international break.
With Sarachan expected to make a plethora of changes to the lineup for Tuesday’s clash with Peru, Josh Sargent and Andrija Novakovich are options to start in place of Wood, or the interim boss could hand Wood another run out with the opportunity to create more chances in front of him.
As for Green, he’s a serviceable option at the No. 10 slot while Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie are away from the team because of injury.
The German-born midfielder has made improvements to his game by playing in the No. 10 role at Greuther Furth in the 2. Bundesliga, and he’d be a solid depth option when the first-team players make their way back into the squad.
What the USMNT attackers need to show against Peru is an increased amount of time spent in the final third and more shots on goal.
Scoring nine goals as an international team during a calendar year isn’t good enough, and the USMNT are aware of that.
The opportunity is front of Wood, Green and Co. to take advantage of their places in their squad now and they must do that in order to produce a positive result against Peru.