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Antonee Robinson winner lifts USMNT over El Salvador

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — A frustrating first half left the U.S. men’s national team pondering the possibility of an upset loss to El Salvador, but yet another strong second half helped the Americans avoid a shocking result, and instead delivered a vital three points.

Antonee Robinson played the hero on the night, scoring a 52nd-minute goal to ease some of the pressure on an American team that struggled to break through against an El Salvador side that made things tough defensively despite failing to create many chances on the night.

After a goal-less first half, the Americans came out with more urgency in the second half, and broke through just seven minutes into the second half when Tim Weah dribbled into the penalty area and had a shot blocked. The subsequent rebound fell to Jesus Ferreira, who headed it into the path of a wide-open Robinson, who slotted home a shot from six yards out for his second goal of the Octagonal.

Robinson’s goal was the only one produced by the Americans, but it wasn’t for a lack of chances or possession. The USMNT finished the night with 17 shots, and forced El Salvador into some key saves, including a highlight-reel stop to deny a golden chance by Yunus Musah that could have made the score 2-0.

Gregg Berhalter made some surprising lineup decisions, led by the call to start Ferreira at striker in place of Ricardo Pepi. The FC Dallas standout was active on the night, including his contribution on the winning goal, but missed a pair of solid chances in the first half in an up-and-down performance in his first World Cup qualifying start.

The Americans looked sharper in the second half, and the midfield trio of Weston McKennie, Musah and Tyler Adams helped the home team dominate possession to close out the match, limiting El Salvador’s threats on a night when Matt Turner didn’t have to make a save.

The win extended the Americans’ home unbeaten streak to 20, and more importantly, their World Cup qualifying unbeaten streak to four.

Up next, the Americans travel to Canada for a showdown in Hamilton on Sunday, with the winner guaranteed to be in first place in the Octagonal with four rounds to go.

Comments

  1. Mr Voice,

    ” his goals are basically a wingback way upfield collecting far post garbage… and let’s be real, that was improvised.. … it just squirted through to him. nice finish but we cannot depend on that. that is a little luck…..my whole point is we don’t have some obvious game plan to go about scoring goals. too many of them are this sort of improvised loose ball in the box stuff. not enough are lack variations on an intended theme.”

    You just shit all over Clint Dempsey’s entire career.
    Goals are the hardest thing to get in the game. Ferriera may be really good someday but he won’t be Pepi. He could be Firmino to Pepi’s Salah.

    Guys like you care HOW.
    Guys who pay players like Lukaku the crazy money? Unlike you they just care about HOW MANY.

    Reply
  2. I guess I will be rooting with all my heart for Mexico these next two games. Damn, being a soccer fan makes you do weird things!

    Reply
  3. Rant warning

    El Salvador is a scrappy team that never gets blown out and they displayed how and why last night. I see a lot of comments unsatisfied with the US performance. What I saw – and have seen all Qualifying – is that there is not a lot of space between all the teams in the Octagonal. The teams at the top have just enough more quality to come away with the results more often however none of those teams are dominating the their opponents. Mexico left it late against 10 men Jamaica last night. Canada won 1-0 at Honduras. These games are grinders. I think that is the context that needs to be kept while judging the games. The US’s most technical players were not given time on the ball. Dest was swarmed and fouled. Pulisic was swarmed and fouled . Both tried to dribble through two and three defenders. Twellman was spot on in his appraisal of McKennie – when he played simple and quick it was beautiful when he tried to I-play-on-a-top-team-in-the-world his way through the Salvadoran defense it was laughable and ugly. That’s what Pulisic and Dest do way to much of as well and they were humbled.

    I know we all want dearly for the US to be dominant in the region. And we are all excited about the level at which the team members are playing their club football. Let’s remember two of our biggest stars Pulisic and Dest are not stars on their teams. Dest is on his way out and if we are honest was always a notch below the quality needed at Barcelona – watching games could tell any honest fan this. Pulisic can’t find a regular spot on his team and is injured almost as much as he his healthy. It’s only recently McKennie finds himself a true regular at Juventus. Adams has his spot locked down at a 2nd tier (to be kind) club that has to fight to make the CL each season. Musah also doesn’t have a position locked down let alone a starting spot. Aaronson stars at a team in a league on par with MLS (being kind). Weah also hasn’t lock down a starting spot on his team. We ooze over an 18 year old striker who now plays for a relegation threatened Bundesliga team (who had the same goals/game average in MLS as Zardes who everyone hates on) and expect him to be the scoring savior up top.

    This is all to say the players need to play within themselves and the fans need to have some realistic expectations of what the team is made of. Many teams across Europe who have similar level rosters are not talking about winning world cups or expecting their teams to perform like a world’s top team every time they step on the pitch.

    I get the kind of comments below from IG accounts filled with 19 year olds with no sense of history or what it takes to be a top level world footballing country but this site with the level of fans that have been here through the years should be more circumspect in their appraisals.

    US gained 3 points in WCQ with a very young and developing team. They dominated the midfield gave up next to zero chances (not one save was required) but struggled in the final third against a team that mostly packed it in. Overall a very good, gutsy performance resisting the temptation to get overly frustrated – which shows a lot of maturity in such a young team. Rant over.

    Reply
    • Wow, it’s taken me way too long to find a sensible American soccer fan who understands the difference between club and the international game. Good rant. Been espousing a lot of this for awhile now, but it’s all hype trains out there. We all want beautiful soccer all the time, too bad very few understand what it actually takes to achieve that…let alone in butcher ball games in CONCACAF.

      Reply
    • Good rant. I agree with the part that our european players are not as good (yet) as we want to believe they are. Still, this El Salvador team has USL players on it. That’s a lot of notches down from a guy on the fringe at Lille.
      If it were that easy to frustrate a good team, you’d never see blow-outs anywhere. The answer is that we weren’t a good team. It’s like you ran out of excuses (the heat, the travel, the refs, the fields, the fans, the day-old breakfast empanadas), and with no excuses left, you say the bad teams are actually good.
      How can it not be clear by now: if you assemble a top class group of players on any team in any sport, and they can’t beat a ***well coached*** group of inferior players, it is down to one thing. The grass was too long.

      Reply
      • El Salvador has like a third of the quality of Honduras yet they are really making teams work out there and getting way better results…game still should have been 3-0, but credit opponents for punching above their weight. The core of the USMNT is under-23 and still learning the perils of CONCACAF and the international game. That’s not gonna change in this WCQ cycle. At what point do things become good for people because even when it’s z multi-goal win I see a lot more “not good enough” takes than positive ones. Coverage of this generation has already become nauseating.

    • that should not have been a game and you do not risk that ends up 0-0 or 1-1 to rest players for a road game you might not win either. go back to how he got 5 points the first window. this is potentially how. you get cute with ES. you put a lot on canada. if it doesn’t work out to plan you need a honduras win to get anything. which he left to the second half down 1-0. what i was taught is you grab these three points, you can then sub off key players earlier. that gives you more ability to use them the last 2 games.

      Reply
    • That was perhaps the kindest rant I have ever read. Also, I didn’t see any typos which is quite impressive but you did end one sentence with a preposition. The ES keeper made two exceptional saves, Ferreira missed two very good opportunities, Weah one, McKennie one, and Zardes jumped too early on his header so it went over the bar but his chance wasn’t as good of an opportunity as the others in fairness. If the result was 4-0 but the game was the same, I don’t think you would hear as much criticism. Nice post.

      Reply
    • Master of the Obvious, a good, honest analysis. The most impactful statement is saying the commenters on SBI are more nuanced and knowledgeable than most any other site out there. I couldn’t agree more. Too many on other sites just jumped on the hype train to Europe, and don’t grasp the history of WCQ and the difficulty of qualifying in CONCAFAF. I think a few of the teams in Europe would also struggle in Azteca or winter in Edmonton.

      If we are all honest, the 2018 team, if they got a good result in T&T, were three and out in Russia. Their best player was a young teenager named Pulisic. This 2022 team is nearly a complete roster turnover, playing in their first WCQ, , and still trying to gel as a team. Many have to travel across multiple time zones on short rest to play in WCQ, all the while trying to get established overseas and earn playing time. It is impressive the level of commitment and dedication shown by these young men. They have earned our support.

      Reply
  4. 100%. He looked frustrated from minute-one and then tried to do too much.
    Watching him getting dispossessed in traffic is getting old. How many mulligans do you get and still keep “best player” status?
    Also he’s SO slow to get up every time there’s contact, and his constant “victim-of-unfairness” face is just signaling to the other team that they can get under his skin.
    I think – go ahead and call me simple – jet lag has something to do with it. I really do.
    Some people handle it better than others. I’m not so good on bad sleep either. I make the same face. I’ll bet he’s awesome Wednesday.

    Reply
  5. set piece delivery is abysmal. put that together with the “take it to the flag and cross” system concept and it’s like we’re trying to work real hard for each goal. we need someone out there who can deliver a dead ball and we need more directness, more balls in behind the defense, more balls into the box to feet. particularly if pepi sits bench and pefok isn’t even called. who runs a crossing offense without a target 9?? like, if you’re gonna run technical players out let’s combo-ball into the box. if it’s dest and robinson crossing balls in then run out there a striker who could possibly finish that. system/selection mismatch.

    personally i say get off the crossing train anyway, it’s a low percentage way to live. i want the ball at the feet of the front 5 trying to work off each other. not everything is built to get the wingback whacking a hopeful ball in. which while i am at it, is an odd way for a team supposedly premised on ground passing and possession to end their efforts. spain/barca c. 2010 that all these teams seem to think they want to be, was not a crossing team, it was a positionless bunch that basically passed the ball until it was in the net.

    Reply
    • You do realize there is another team involved as well. Teams are staying very compact and forcing the US into wide areas so that crosses are what other teams are giving. Teams in friendlies are more forgiving, they’re working on different aspects and earning a point on one of the “big” teams doesn’t matter. In qualifying teams like ES are laser focused on keeping shape and defending as a group, they’ve caused most teams tons of trouble. The one typical reserve (there was no large scale resting of players) assisted on the goal (with a headed pass). We got a results it was ugly move on, get better Sunday.

      Reply
      • are you seriously suggesting the only way we can create against this moderate level of opponent is run to the endline like U16s and whack hopeful balls at the 6? we lack a strong central engine that attacks directly at opponents. you only see direct play in transition or the counter. it can be far easier than this.

  6. been saying for about 2 years now — c. the canada loss fall 2019 — pulisic needs to get that this is a much more broadly talented team for which he does not need to “do everything.” racing solo upfield to try and slalom the whole ES defense with no help was no more necessary for him than when hoppe tries it. i don’t mind him juking one guy but we now have plenty of difference makers he can set up with his separation. he has a great skill set but he needs to fit into a team concept now. it is no longer the Dempsey & Pulisic Show.

    Reply
    • Agree with you. He’s got more talent around him, lack of a 9 that finishes not withstanding. I like the way Aaronson plays more within the team and Pulisic has shown he’s capable of it too.

      Overall sloppy game, passing was disjointed at times and too slow. Adams was a little concerning to me last night, while Adams was his usual defensive self, his passing was off. Three bad giveaways with one right outside the 18. It seems like he may have one bad giveaway a game, but more up the field. If he has similar giveaways against Canada, at least 1 will be in the back of the net.

      Reply
      • personally i wonder why we didn’t have young dynamic team that wants to pass the ball, playing on a wider field. don’t know dimensions or if it was an effort thing, but it felt like players on top of players. not great for methodical passing. someone was on you in half a second. my experience that felt like the sort of field you just skip the midfield and play direct down the wings or over the top. otherwise a clogged field is a midfield stalemate.

        are MLS field dimensions posted anywhere? i don’t think the cold hurt. i thought no time on the ball turned it into constant one touch.

    • This comment disappeared earlier, if it’s a duplicate, my apologies.

      Agree with you. He’s got more talent around him, lack of a 9 that finishes not withstanding. I like the way Aaronson plays more within the team and Pulisic has shown he’s capable of it too.

      Overall sloppy game, passing was disjointed at times and too slow. Adams was a little concerning to me last night, while Adams was his usual defensive self, his passing was off. Three bad giveaways with one right outside the 18. It seems like he may have one bad giveaway a game, but more up the field. If he has similar giveaways against Canada, at least 1 will be in the back of the net.

      Reply
  7. Last night was incredibly indicative we were getting hamstrung by that lack of a top-tier #9. Ferreira wasn’t wretched in possession but Oh My was he doing the Josh Sargent thing when it came to finishing. Of course, then in came Zardes, doing Bad Gyasi Zardes things, looking as ever like a baby giraffe on roller skates…like wow, is Zardes-in-preseason-form a truly awful player. Bad move, Gregg. Let’s have no more Zardes this cycle, and it’s time to admit Zardes is a Gold Cup player, not a World Cup player.

    If we’d had a #9 who could just finish the sitters that were put on his plate, we’d have been up 3-0 in the first half and cruised. We dominated everywhere else, even not playing particularly sharp ball at times.

    We have to find at least two quality #9’s. who can actually finish goals. Saving Pepi for Canada was probably a good move but Ferreira didn’t inspire much confidence he’s an answer yet.

    Reply
  8. I think it’s a little unfortunate that the US fan has not learned to appreciate the beauty of a 1 Nil win. We skipped it and went right to Dos a cero, but a goal, plus a clean sheet on defense is an accomplishment that should be emulated, not ostracized, or ignored.

    Reply
    • Not sure I agree with your stance here. There are other factors to consider such as: Quality of opposition? Weak.
      Playing at home? Yes.
      Dominate chance creation? Not really.
      We won and thats good but there is nuance to the situation that show it was not a great night for the team.
      Our continued slow starts are a concern. A lack of a reliable goal scorer is a concern

      Reply
      • far as i am concerned the perceived “slow starts” reflect the combination of a low percentage attack scheme and iffy selection. the selection makes the games closer than they need to be. the emphasis on get it wide and whack it in generally results in stuttering offense. we get second half goals because we are more fit and more talented. those goals vary in nature because there is no effective “plan” for how they happen. which, to be fair, is sometimes how it works. not every goal is the same. but most good teams have kind of a playbook they are running that churns out chances. they are working to get the ball to the feet or head of certain players in certain spots. the deal to me is we have to work hard to create anything, nothing feels planned — we suck at set pieces even — and it all feels improvised.

        if there is any plan at the moment it seems to be get it to the flag and play keepaway then see what happens. beyond that, like, where are we trying to deliver the 9 the ball? what runs are we making on set pieces and where is the kick taker supposed to put the ball? like, you watch italy, and the idea is get it to the wings in space, but then have them cut back, take people on, and try and create.

        drives me nuts because there is a pretty good level of talent out there at least through the starters.

      • UR,

        The more things change, the more they stay the same.

        Slow starts, need for a scoring center forward, non dominant midfield. You could look at the criticism that Bob was getting back in 2009-2010 and it would read very much like your post.

        The USMNT has rarely been a “fast starter”.

        I don’t understand why anyone expects them be.

        It has been about 10 weeks since the USMNT played Jamaica in the last qualifier. They played Bosnia H on December 18th a little over a month and a half ago. Turner was the keeper. Ferriera started and Gyasi subbed in.

        That’s it for players in that game who had anything to do with last night.

        So a team vaguely resembling last night’s lineup last played together about 10 weeks ago and you all expect them to go out there and play like some well oiled machine??

        EPL teams complain about being rusty after international breaks when they might have 2 weeks between games.

        But they are clubs so at least their players play and train together a crap ton more than the USMNT EVER does. The best thing about watching the USMNT in any World Cup was that it was one of the few times when , after having extended camps and a bunch of games so close together, they looked like they were beginning to develop some cohesion.

        And when you add the fact that this manager does a lousy job of coaching this team, last night they looked like their usual selves, stiff, turgid, unsure of their roles, tentative, etc.

        Clean sheets are not all equal. El Salvador , scrappy and well coached as they are, are not offensively gifted. Shutting them out is not like shutting down a France, Italy or even a Mexico, who suck lately.

        One last thing.

        Jozy used to be severely criticized and devalued because so many of his goals were against “minnows”, meaning CONCACAF teams.
        He scored 18 out of his 42 goals in World Cup Qualifying games.
        Think they would take that Jozy now?

        For context:

        Clint scored 18 out of his 57 goals in World Cup Qualifying games.
        He and Jozy are the co-leaders in this particular category.

        LD scored 13 of his 57 goals in World Cup Qualifying games.
        McBride scored 10 of his 30 goals in World Cup Qualifying
        Wynalda scored 5 of his 31 goals in World Cup Qualifying
        Back when he was still good Pulisic scored 8 of his 17 goals in World Cup Qualifying games.

        If they play him in these last 5 games, Pulisic could move past McBride. If he gets super hot he could even move past LD on that list

    • that was not a purposeful, well grinded, low risk, 1-0. lucky goal, plenty of opposing chances. i am a fan of team defense; that was not it.

      Reply
      • Lucky goal? One player astutely headed across the box to the open player who crushed it passed the keeper. What do you want a scorpion kick – you’d probably say that was lucky too. Pretty much every goal can be said to be lucky come to think of it. If it’s not a lapse of defense or goal keeping, it’s a moment of individual brilliance that by definition is so because it is low percentage aka lucky. Lucky goal…give me a break.

      • well finished but both of his goals are basically a wingback way upfield collecting far post garbage. and let’s be real, that was improvised. that was not a head flick to robinson. it just squirted through to him. nice finish but we cannot depend on that. that is a little luck.

        my whole point is we don’t have some obvious game plan to go about scoring goals. too many of them are this sort of improvised loose ball in the box stuff. not enough are lack variations on an intended theme. what is the game plan?

      • Plenty of opposing chances? 0.2 xG and no shots that required a save. The sky is falling the sky is falling.

      • Mr Voice,

        ” his goals are basically a wingback way upfield collecting far post garbage… and let’s be real, that was improvised.. … it just squirted through to him. nice finish but we cannot depend on that. that is a little luck…..my whole point is we don’t have some obvious game plan to go about scoring goals. too many of them are this sort of improvised loose ball in the box stuff. not enough are lack variations on an intended theme.”

        You just shit all over Clint Dempsey’s entire career.
        Goals are the hardest thing to get in the game. Ferriera may be really good someday but he won’t be Pepi. He could be Firmino to Pepi’s Salah.

        Guys like you care HOW.
        Guys who pay players like Lukaku the crazy money? Unlike you they just care about HOW MANY.

      • dempsey also got goals a la costa rica getting the ball to feet at the spot on purpose and putting it in a corner. my deal is everything is opportunist and very little is planned. US teams far less talented to this have scored a lot more dead balls and goals within some sort of obvious game plan.

      • Mr. Voice,

        “everything is opportunist and very little is planned.”

        No kidding. How much soccer do you watch?

        There are guys who score great goals. And then there are great goal scorers. The two are not necessarily the same.

        My favorite great goalscorer was Gerd Muller. Most of his goals, if you were neutral, weren’t particularly pleasing or entertaining. Gerd was a garbage man. But they were often timely and important.

        And a lot of them came after a mistake by the other guys. For example, a tap in goal is a mistake by the other team. Someone let that ball through, someone failed to cover someone, etc. And who was there to clean up? Clint or Gerd.

        A penalty is obviously the result of the other team’s mistake. How many games are won by penalties these days?

        That’s why Clint scored so much even though he often played on US teams who couldn’t spell assist if you spotted them all the consonants. He scored some great goals but he also was better than most at punishing mistakes. And that’s pretty demoralizing.

        Landon? The other teams made the mistake of thinking anyone could keep up with him. There was a reason why it often looked like he was all by himself as he shot.

        I’m too lazy to look this up but I’m confident that the majority of goals come off of the other team’s mistakes.

        You know what pressing is? It’s a tactic to help the other team make mistakes. And if you have a Salah or a Mane, those guys know what to do with mistakes.

        That’s why goal scorers make the crazy money.

        You know what tiki-taka was? It was about wearing down the other team so that eventually they would screw up and give a Villa or an Iniesta something they could do damage with. Spain won their World Cup with one 2-0 win over Honduras , a 1-0 loss to Switzerland and five 1-0 victories in the remaining games.

        You are recognized and paid as a great goal scorer based on VOLUME. Don’t tell me that CR7, Lewandoski, etc. don’t score their share of tap ins or don’t take the penalties.

        ” US teams far less talented to this have scored a lot more dead balls and goals within some sort of obvious game plan.”

        You’re going to have to break them down more than that to support your point.

        I do agree with you that this team doesn’t have a lot of offensive imagination. Mostly they try to go for overloading an area but the execution is often lacking.

    • The problem is that one mistake and you lose 2 points. Against a weak team at home, in environmental conditions set up just for you, it shouldn’t be close. After the goal the US seemed to take the foot off the gas, practically inviting ES back into the game. That’s not how a high quality team plays.

      Reply
      • Gary, what makes you think that every team that gains a one goal lead, goes for a second? You get three points if you win by 1 goal or 2. It looked to me like USA had total control of the game last night, and on the defensive side, it was more so. It’s just weird that a win that should be celebrated is turned into something else. WTF??? We have fans who have a lot of different ideas about what is best. Feelings get hurt, and egos are very fragile. Canada is all of a sudden, world beaters, so I’m assuming a 1 nil USA win up In Ontario is acceptable?

      • Dikranovich–If a team like Germany or some top European team gets a 1 goal lead on a weak team, do you think they are satisfied and don’t try to score more when there is still almost half the game to go? I suggest you watch more soccer if you think that is true.

      • Interesting Gary, you’re a longtime fan of the US national team, you know we have lost our share of 1 nil games, to the best teams in the world, and on the biggest stage, yet, this is your posture. Either smacks of greed or stupidity, or maybe both. And I’m sorry to say that! Because clearly, others share your opinion.

      • ” It looked to me like USA had total control of the game last night, and on the defensive side, it was more so.”

        “total control”?

        No such thing.

        Having a 1-0 lead with 38 minutes to go is no time to close down the shop, especially facing a lively, scrappy, well coached team like El Salvador.

        The USMNT isn’t good enough to do that. Most teams are not.

        The USMNT is vastly superior in terms of talent to all the other CONCACAF teams but, as poorly managed as they are, that talent advantage isn’t always evident in a real live game.

        You want to celebrate a flawed win before qualification is assured? That’s akin to celebrating the win before the game is over.

        This manager was outcoached again. One of these days the guys outcoaching him will actually have the players to make it count.

        You can celebrate after they qualify and are we are all certain that this manager can’t screw up WC qualification anymore.

      • Gary, another important point in all of this, is that winning close games, builds a strong mentality. Holding a one goal lead is a sign of a strong team. We as a nation have lost our fair share of 1 nil games, and we have also given up one goal leads, in some of the most crucial games. 3 nil is nice, nobody is saying it isn’t, but winning and holding a 1 nil lead is always an accomplishment, especially when it really counts, like you know, in a WCQ. Gary, I don’t put you in the same boat with vacuum, but I just don’t see how you’re really thinking through what your saying, and also, what you’re seeing. It’s a big miss on your part, and like I said before, you’re not alone in this thinking.

      • Dikranovich

        1) “winning close games, builds a strong mentality. Holding a one goal lead is a sign of a strong team.”

        2) “We as a nation have lost our fair share of 1 nil games, and we have also given up one goal leads, in some of the most crucial games.”

        If you agree with sentence #2, then that makes sentence #1 irrelevant.

        In other words, you just said, ” you win some and you lose some,”.

        That’s true enough but it’s not cause for celebration. There have been many signs that this is a strong team from day one.

        Signs are not enough.

        What this team needs to do to prove they are actually “strong” is play well consistently against someone more or less equal.

        3) ” winning and holding a 1 nil lead is always an accomplishment,”

        Absolutely and no one here disagrees with that.

        The difference is, not everyone agrees with you on how much of an accomplishment it was.

        They’re at home. They’re vastly superior. They’re fitter. They should wipe the floor with these guys. But they don’t.

        The El Salvador game does not stand on its own. It is one game in a series of World Cup Qualifying games. Each of them is linked to each other.

        Until you are mathematically assured of at least 4th place, you’ve accomplished nothing.

        While it’s unlikely, if the USMNT loses the remaining 5 games, all the games they played before will amount to nothing.

        If there is a cause for celebration outside of the points taken, well they are one game closer to getting this over with.

        The team is not playing well and the qualification is still in doubt. The players look out of sync. The manager has already shown an inability to rise above the situation.

        The best thing about the Canada and Honduras games is that when they play them, the players will have had more training time to get used to working with each other again.

        But with this manager, you never know.

        At this point, all you want from any manager in his spot is that he not screw it up.

        No experimenting with newbies playing positions they have never played, no searching for width, no wacky rotation lineups, no waiting until the last minute to not sub, etc., etc.

        This team just needs vanilla. Beat Honduras and Panama at home. Tie Canada and Costa Rica away. 8 points + 18 = 24 which is probably enough
        to allow you to lose to Mexico at Azteca if you want.

        This manager has a track record of suspect decisions and no national team track record of success. You can’t really separate the manager from the players but if you could, so far, achieving qualification will be more in spite of him rather than because of him.

        If Bob replaced him right now and everything else was equal, I’d forget about qualifying and go prepare for Qatar.
        Bob has had his failures, but he’s also had his successes. Because I am a USMNT fan I would give Bob the benefit of the doubt.

        The present manager? He has not earned the benefit of the doubt. He’s the real issue with the USMNT. They are in the equivalent of the 8th inning and if I could I’d bring in the closer.

        If you pay any attention to the media you’ll find that even where there is approval of this manager, it’s tentative and given with reservations. Everyone knows he ain’t going nowhere so they accept him and make excuses for him. That’s a real long way from believing in him.
        “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”
        — Joseph Goebbels

  9. We’ll take the 3 points. We know WCQ games are rarely attractive. But in terms of the ultimate goal of qualifying, 4th place Panama lost to Costa Rica. That extends the gap between us and Panama to 4 points, and extends the gap of the top 3 and the rest. Panama also has Mexico next week, so it is hard to see them getting a positive result in that game. Grab at least a point Sunday, and look for 3 against last place Honduras next week, and we should be going into the March qualifiers in control.

    Reply
    • We have been in control for a while. Even before the last window. After the first 6 matches it became clear. Just win the home games. Especially Panama and we were virtually qualified outside of major calamities, really unusual results across the board that would put Couva to shame. The Ocho is so much better for us. More games means lucky, unusual results will even out. Panama is a good team. Well coached and drilled, but they have had some good fortune. Even out a bit if you watched last nights match. Oh well.

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    • Interesting slate of games on Sunday. To bad USA don’t get the late game. Jamaica are playing for their World Cup lives and should give Panama everything they’ve got. Ticos travel to Azteca. USA have an amazing chance to gain more separation. A loss to Canada would sting, but a win is so much more valuable than a tie, going for it, seems like a must. I like that Canada doesn’t have a clue what our lineup or formation will be. Except they do know the three midfielders, and they don’t look forward to that prospect. Wouldn’t be entirely shocking to see pulisic Start this next game on the bench. Awesome sub, if needed

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      • Buchanan on Canada’s right side is a concern. I wonder if maybe Acosta starts on the left side of midfield, to try and keep Buchanan quiet. McKennie was limping around last night, if he’s not 100% it might make sense to sit him on Sunday anyway. Or maybe put someone who’s a little better defensively than A. Robinson at LB. Maybe Richards at LB and M. Robinson in the center.

        Or maybe I’m overthinking things.

      • I won’t say this often, but am hoping Mexico doesn’t lose the next two. They play CR and Panama this break. If Mexico takes care of business and we come away with at least 7 points this break, we can go into March qualifiers with much less reduced stress. Top 3 is what matters. If Panama loses 2 or 3 games this break, we are good as in.

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