US – El Salvador: What Did We Learn

The US in a sloppy and erratic way dominated a sloppy and erratic El Salvador team, yet the US suffered from the oh so classic problem of scoring. In the end they got two goals to win the game, but this should have been a rout. Instead, the US found themselves behind midway through the second half.

The US just plain and simple lacked class in the final third and El Salvador just lacked class, giving the ball away in their own half endlessly. Yes the El Salvadorean keeper had a good game, but the lack of finishing quality was downright maddening – with Robbie Rogers second half one-on-one shank the most obvious.

In the end, this game I think didn’t clarify all that much about the US World Cup squad. The decision over the final forward slots is still a question, with Conor Casey, Brian Ching, and Robbie Findley in some ways performing as expected. One would expect Bradley’s attention will turn to some European options next week in the form of Eddie Johnson and maybe Kenny Cooper. Bradley did confirm his love-affair with Jonathan Bornstein by bizarrely playing him in the center of defense and making him captain. Fortunately he had little to do, except of course for getting his wires crossed with Brad Evans on the lone El Salvador goal.

So while I think few really helped or hurt themselves, it was still a friendly less than four months from the World Cup, so we must of learned somethings about some of the players. Here is a rundown of who helped and who hurt themselves.

Who helped themselves:

Heath Pearce, LB – Pearce was perhaps the most consistent player on the night. He showed something that we haven’t seen from Jonathan Bornstein – that is touch and quality on the ball. I think he made a strong case for himself and a good start to the MLS season may see him get a ticket to South Africa.

Brian Ching – Dude scored. He positioned himself well on crosses and put himself in good positions. If Bradley is determined to bring another target man, he outdid Conor Casey tonight.

Robbie Findley – He looked dangerous on the ball but showed his inexperience off the ball often wondering off sides. He left me wanting to see more, which is always a good thing. How he plays in MLS will be key.

Sacha Kljestan – He looked solid and scored. But he is very much on the outside for the World Cup. He still tends to drift in and out of play and he just doesn’t seem to dominate space in the middle of the field. He is if you will, an American, Jermaine Jenas – does some good things, but never does enough.

Clarence Goodson – Ditto to what John Harkes said, he was solid. And solid is what you want from an emergency reserve defender.

Who hurt themselves:

Robbie Rogers – There just isn’t enough quality there. He at times can effectively push the ball past people and put in a good ball, but he can also just as easily give the ball away and make a bad decision. Just isn’t ready and I can’t seem him really adding anything in South Africa.

Brad Evans- He looked a little shaky at right back frequently having to chase players down. But his failed clearance header was just a catastrophic brain fart. He wasn’t really in the frame anyway.

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3 Responses

  1. Were we watching the same Rogers? I didn’t see him give that many balls away–not half as many as Davis, and not half as blatantly as Kljestan or Beckerman.

    In fact, I was really impressed with his ability to retain a ball despite pressure from multiple defenders, as well as his maturity in awareness of when to push forward, when to cross (glaring error aside, which I chalk up to sheer tiredness clouding his judgment, which would make sense, given his lack of match fitness), and when to pull the ball back and wait for other players to get into position. He has a good nose for the run of play. I’d even say he was the most creative player on the night, with Pearce running a close second.

    And you can’t tell me that a pacy winger with footskills and great crossing ability doesn’t have anything to add to the squad. He’d be an absolute asset as a super sub. That’s what I think, although the only way I’ll know I’m right or wrong is when the final WC roster comes out.

    • Dan – we just have to disagree on Rogers. I agree with you he did have some good moments and I am not saying he gave the ball away anymore or any less than Beckerman or Kljestan – neither of whom I see having much of a chance to make the squad. Rogers actually has a chance and therefore I probably judged him with a bit more harshly. He certainly had some good moments, but he did needlessly give the ball away a number of times – that could be overcome if you think he has the speed and technique to contribute against top class teams. I just think he is a bit raw and I don’t think he really has the speed to beat better teams down the flanks – as I think was evident against Honduras. I am not saying Rogers doesn’t have quality, but in my view he just doesn’t have enough to overtake some of his other competitors for the WC spot.

  2. Also, @ Pearce: while his contributions upfield were fruitful, he was prone to being caught out of position on turnovers, leaving Bornstein exposed on the flank on a number of counters, which would certainly prove fatal against WC-caliber teams.

    Otherwise, @ Ching, Findley, Kljestan, Goodson–I completely agree.

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