Stars and Gripes

Occasionally interesting insight (and gripes) about the USMNT

Brief Post-Game Thoughts

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Four quick post-match thoughts:

1. This was Landon Donovan’s signature match. We said throughout the pre-match coverage that Donovan needed to be involved early and often (not that it was a particularly insightful view), and he responded with a superb effort that rightfully earned the Man of the Match distinction.  He was all over the field, covering 11.28km in the match, admirably helping to track back on defense.  He was also sharp, completing 72% of his passes—by far, his best performance of the tournament (he was down to 50% versus Slovenia).

Donovan has definitively shed the label of being a “good American player,” and has placed himself firmly in the discussion of the top performers in South Africa.  When he returns to California, there will be English and Spanish suitors waiting on his doorstep.

2. Under the brightest lights, the United States shined. It’s no secret that the United States has been sub-par in matches they’re expected to win, while at times thriving as underdogs.  In may ways, this match was the first step towards changing that image.  This was no fluke win–the Americans dominated play.  They held possession (52%), led in shots on goal (10-4), and took 20 fouls (to the 11 they committed).  If the Americans can repeat this kind of performance, albeit with some better finishing from Clint Dempsey, they could extend their stay in South Africa well past next Saturday.

3. Bob Bradley pushed the right buttons. While Herculez Gomez struggled against the physical Algerians (although he should have picked up an assist on Dempsey’s dubiously-disallowed goal), the decision to replace Onyewu with Bornstein was enlightened.  Bornstein wasn’t perfect—he was out of position on a few occasions in the first half—but he was solid on his marking, and allowed precious few Algerian threats to emerge from the right flank.  He avoided any big mistakes, and allowed Bocanegra and DeMerit to form an effective partnership in the middle.

I don’t think Bradley will get anywhere near the credit he deserves for sitting Onyewu.  Leaving your most accomplished defender on the bench, regardless of fitness, is a bold move, and one that many managers would have avoided.  Yet DeMerit and Bocanegra responded, closing down the space in the middle and marking runs into the box, helping to cure what had been the United States’ twin Achilles heels over the first two matches.

The addition of Maurice Edu ahead of Ricardo Clark was also positive, as he and Michael Bradley looked very comfortable playing together.  Edu provided solid defensive coverage, and is far more effective than Clark when the ball at his feet.  Finally, the insertion of Feilhaber at the half—as opposed to waiting 10-15 minutes—helped to settle the attack, and he looked truly dangerous for the first time in the last six weeks.

Bradley hasn’t been perfect—his starting XI has been suspect in all three matches—but his in-game management has been superb.  There’s a growing sense internationally that the United States is in very competent hands, and the feeling is well founded.

4. Jozy Altidore has arrived. Altidore’s performances in this tournament, and particularly over the last 120 minutes, have been immense.  Jozy’s talent and physical tools have rarely been called into question.  Instead, concerns have been aired about his work rate and commitment to doing the dirty work.  Those doubts are quickly evaporating, and you’re witnessing the maturation of a very talented forward who can clearly hold his own on the highest level.


Written by Pete Kavanaugh

June 23, 2010 at 3:13 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. […] Donovan is the new Mike Eurizone and a real American Idol all wrapped up in one today. It was his signature performance.  Get up kids, phone neighbors, American soccer could be up to something big over the next week or […]

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