Again, if you’ve missed today’s match you can catch it in replay on ESPN360.com. You may want to do that before reading the following since spoilers will inevitably follow.
Despite the universally loathed soccer ball and lousy pitch conditions, the US squad did OK on the day. It looked like a B-grade effort, but no one wants to go onto injured reserve at this late day. I’m not faulting anyone (hi Landon!) for only putting out an 80-90% effort.
Today’s play did change my view on the starting line up. Howard obviously remains in goal, the talent drop between him and Marcus Hahnemann appearing to be several football fields. Perhaps Hahnemann’s difficulties were related to the new ball, but that’s the ball they’re using in the tournament, I don’t know what to say other than “hurry up and figure it out.” Howard did not appear to have the same problems.
Steve Cherundolo had a solid game and he remains my starting right back. I’m looking for a good tournament from him. I still have Oguchi Onyewu in the middle, though God knows I don’t think he’s 100 percent. We’re better with him there, though his inability to get up for crosses remains troubling. Carlos Bocanegra would be better in the middle but I’ve got him on the left because I’ve not seen anyone else reliably fill the role. I’ve got Clarence Goodson inside with Onyewu, in preference to Jay DeMerit would played so horribly today that I’ve got wish that he doesn’t see the pitch against England.
I think that Coach Bradley is right to push Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey to the wings. I should probably write “wings” because they both play more toward the interior, but you’ve got to find some way to keep them on the field, and I think that’s it. Inside I’ve got Michael Bradley and Jose Torres, but I suspect the Coach will start Ricardo Clark which is I think is a big mistake.
Up top I continue to like Jozy Altidore, but I’m backing off Robbie Findley as a starter. Findley’s pace may cause fits for the defense, but I’ve seen no evidence that he can finish. I’ll take Edson Buddle or Herculez Gomez, proven goal scorers both, to start and bring in Findley as a sub.