Just when it seemed like the USA had turned the page and Klinsmann’s principals were starting to really click, the Stars and Stripes turned in a rather uninspired performance against their CONCACAF rivals, a 0-0 draw vs. America Junior.
The final 90 minutes before World Cup Qualifying were meant to tie up the lose ends. Instead, it only created more questions.
First, who will pair Bocanegra in the back? Goodson did okay but the centerbacks still got split on a few occasions. Gooch looked behind the pace against Brazil and didn’t do enough for me tonight to cement his place on the back-line.
Secondly, did Castillo do enough to earn a place behind Fabian Johnson on the LB depth chart? His industry was refreshing, he got forward with aplomb and almost scored a wonder goal, but his final ball still needs work and he was lucky the assistant referee thought he saw a foul while the Tijuana defender got caught in possession.
The back-line is the biggest concern of the US team for me and despite all his experience, Cherundolo worries me against fast and clever attackers. At times DeRo looked like Neymar and Marcelo coming down the left hand side vs. Dolo tonight.
In the middle, Bradley, Jones and Edu can all hold the midfield and go forward, but their roles have yet to be defined. With no one absolutely sure of their duty in the center of the inside three, Bradley and Jones were both staying too far back meaning no one was exploiting the pocket of space between the Canadian defense and midfield. That is until Clint Dempsey filled it, meaning there was one less forward up top and with Landon Donovan hugging the wing (but not really moving much) Dempsey only had Herculez Gomez to find closer to the goal.
Meanwhile, Gomez didn’t show as well as he did against Brazil while Jozy Altidore was a bit inconspicuous. For me this says the US will play a 4-3-3 with Altidore relegated to the bench because he is best at holding up the ball and having another striker to work off him.
The likes of Chris Wondolowski were not given enough time to prove their worth.
Finally, this dull featureless 0-0 draw was actually a relief for me because I kept having flashbacks to the last meeting between these two countries when the U-23 sides faced off in Olympic qualifying. Just like that match, Canada snuffed out US creativity with their numerical advantage in the midfield while they used their speed and strength up top to out-muscle and out-work a slower US back-line. Just as in that match, the US did not do enough with the space afforded to them on the flanks with Donovan rather stagnant on the wing.
The bottom line is the US didn’t lose. The friendlies are over and now the games will count. This game was boring, but no US fan will care about the entertainment value as long as the Yanks pick up six points against Antigua and Barbuda and Guatemala in their next two matches which will begin World Cup Qualifying.
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