US wins ugly

ricardo clark
Well that performance epitomized winning ugly. The difference between good teams and mediocre teams, is that good teams have the quality to put the ball in the net even when they are playing badly. The U.S. has quality players on the field, and quality players in a 90 minute game can do quality things. And Ricardo Clark took his chance with a fantastic strike. In general, a big athletic team like Trinidad was bound to give us more trouble and be more dangerous then many anticipated. That said the performance was really poor. Most worrying was the team’s total lack of urgency.

First the few bright spots:
1. Howard – I think he was the man of the match for the U.S. Nothing all that spectacular but was sure handed.

2. Feilhaber – Perhaps it was more the goal right before he came on, but the game changed with him on the field. He worked hard defensively and possessed and distributed the ball well. We looked much more in control with him in the game.

3. Altidore, Davies, Donovan –
I thought they all looked very dangerous when they got the ball. The problem was they didn’t get much of the ball. The guys over at MLS talk thought Davies had a poor game – sure some of the decisions could have been better, but he was still lively. A quick thought on Donovan – I think the big disadvantage of him in MLS is that he never became that natural Michael Owen-esque finisher that he probably would have become had played in Europe, since in Europe he would have played as a striker not all over the pitch. He had a couple great chances that he didn’t put away.

4. Clark’s strike –
Clark had a poor first half like most others, but his strike was cooly done and showed that he has class. In Copa America Clark also showed his ability to hit the ball (unfortunately that one didn’t find the back of the net). After the goal, Bradley was right to keep him in, as he helped close out the game.

The stains:

1. Dempsey – Talk about dogging it. His performance will be scrutinized in another post. But lets just say it was the worst, most infuriating performance I have ever seen from him and was a big reason for the overall dreadful first half performance from the team. No work rate and wasteful in possession. Only looked interested when he was in the box.

2. The central midfield –
Bradley rivaled Dempsey for the worst first half performance. His touch was truly awful and was anonymous for long segments. He played better in the second half and had a few could interchanges, but he really is not looking good right now. Clark was also wasteful in possession.

3. Bocanegra. In the first half he reminded me why he used to make me so nervous. He was turned on the throw in and could have been called for a penalty after first letting the ball bounce in the box and then wiffing on the clearance.

4. Effort and intensity.
The lack of defensive effort, the failure of wide players to trackback, and to close down Trinidad in the midfield allowed them to pour crosses in to Jones at will. There was no intensity from the U.S., which is shocking considering a win was absolutely vital. Bob Bradley deserves some fault for not lighting a fire under them and I thought he should have made a change at half time by taking off Dempsey, Bradley, or Clark. But in the end he was right to close out the game the way he did after the goal.

Worst tactical mistake came from Trinidad. Putting Carlos Edwards on the left – instead of his usual right – to go at Spector instead of Bornstein was boneheaded. Spector is an EPL player – maybe the coach saw Aaron Lennon torch him a few times, but Edwards is no Lennon. Bornstein had a decent game, but he was also given a reprieve by the Trinidad coach.

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