Having watched last night’s USA v. Czech Republic friendlyâ€”if you missed it, you can pick it up on ESPN360â€”my long-standing concern about our defense again bubbled up. Granted, we didn’t start our best players, but bear in mind that the Czech didn’t even qualify. A 4-2 shellacking of our B-squad less than three weeks out from the start of the World Cup hardly builds confidence, especially since two of the defendersâ€”Steve Cherundolo and Oguchi Onyewuâ€”are probable starters. Getting Carlos Bocanegra in there will help, but I have no idea (Spector? Bornstein?) who has the other wing. Heath Pearce, beaten so badly on the second and third goals in the Czech game, won’t be there, so thank God for small favors.
Also failing the confidence test were ESPN’s announcers who continued the decades-old tradition of spending the match announcing horribly obvious facts and blathering on with inconsequential opinions about various (frequently unknowable) topics. I thank God that I will once again be watching the Spanish-language Univision World Cup coverage in the weeks to come. Whether you speak Spanish or not, I highly recommend Univision.
It’s not like I watched us fall flat against the Czechs and now think we’re the Bad News Bears of soccer. I expect our goalkeeping to be excellent and our midfield play, anchored by Landon Donovan, to be very good. The forwards are a bit of a question mark, with Josey Altidore being solid and whoever else is up there (Dempsey, Edu, Budle, or Gomez) hopefully being the same. I’ve never been sold on Brian Ching myself, but he had a good game Tuesday. Presumably Coach Bradley favored speed over Ching’s holding abilities, because Ching did not make the cut announced earlier today.
Let’s see how the real 23-man squad plays in the next friendly on Saturday.