Normally, my sister and I would be having a long chat hashing out the player grades for this game, but since the parents are visiting her this week I’m guessing she doesn’t have time for that. I’m also guessing the parents don’t want to sit around while we do that. So instead the readers are stuck with me on my own just telling my general thoughts for the game. After Tuesday’s game I promise a brother/sister grades argument.
The first thing that really sticks out in my mind as a talking point of this game was Jose Torres playing defense. Now, it seems to me that Klinsmann doesn’t want his wing defenders so much for their defense, but more so for their offense, because he figures Edu or Jones will cover back and save the day if need be. That being said, I didn’t really notice a time where I thought Torres defensively was out matched, where he couldn’t get the job done when he came back for defense. I also though didn’t think anyone tried to do such a thing. It seemed like this position change actually got him more involved offensively than the last two games where he was kind of lost in the game, and he and Clint seem to have a really good connection, where Clint seems to know exactly when Jose is making a run and gets him the ball at the right time on the wing. There was a little left to be desired from some of his crosses, or maybe some more creativity running into the box would be nice, but overall it was good to see. Now all that being said, I’d still go Fabian Johnson back there if both are healthy and available, but is this something where one can play on the right and one can play on the left when Stevesy can’t go anymore?
Sticking with the defense, I thought for the most part it was solid. Goodson made a really nice slide tackle save, and the thing about it I liked the most after Howard gave him the good job high five afterwards he shook his head no. He knew he should have done better and couldn’t leave that guy to be open, and after that he didn’t. He shut them down pretty much all night. Which is probably why Gooch got to come in and try the experiment of moving Bocanegra back to the wing. I’m usually all for Boca on the wing, I think he plays great wing defense and when he does push forward good things usually happen, but at this point in his career he seems content to play long crosses from far away when he gets it on the wing. I’d love to keep giving Gooch the benefit of the doubt as well, he came into the game cold. It was a really quick need for a sub, and that’s hard anywhere, but center defense? That’s got to be the worst, you can’t get in the flow of the game it just comes at you. And so right away after coming in they had their two best scoring chances and capitalized on one. On their goal he took a really bad angle to close it down, so it has to be on him. I mean other people could have done more to stop it sooner, but he looked out of place while others were just beat by the play, and that’s something we can’t have, it’s also something Boca wouldn’t have done. So it makes us question why did we try Boca on the wing and Gooch in the middle, why not go with Castillo who was warming up. My only thought is we wanted to try this formation out while we had the game in hand.
In the mids, it was another solid game for all of them. Bradley looked good moving the ball around, I lost Jones a few times during the game, and he hasn’t shown that same spark and flair that he did against Scotland, but when you do find him on the field it seemed that more often than not the result was something positive. Edu had a good game shutting things down and moving the ball around. The only problem with the midfield was on one of their attempts at goal there was a bad pass back to the defense, I believe we were up 3-1 at that point so it was probably just a lazy pass, but we can’t have those at any times. We can’t have turnovers in that position. It lead to a shot that probably would have gone high but Howard did well to put over the bar. Nothing came of it from the goal perspective but a better striker would have buried that open look.
As for the forwards, Clint and Gomez looked amazing. Every play that we scored on, one of those two was involved in either creating the start of play or pounding home the finish. Herculez on the corner kick first goal did amazing to first off just get to that ball, it wasn’t the best cross, it was deep in the box and it was away from everyone, but despite running away from the goal to get to the ball he still got amazing power and placement on the header to force the quick save let Bocanegra capitalize on the rebound. Clint was involved with Landon to set up the PK, he had a great flick on that allowed Landon to go through but was tackled then Clint got to take the PK and buried it. For the third goal Herculez finally got the goal he deserved. There were other opportunities in there with Herculez getting blocked on a header near post and Clint’s great turn around blast from just outside the box that showed that both have the creativity and desire to be very dangerous up top together. If I’m going to be very critical of Clint, it wasn’t the best PK I have ever seen taken. He had the goalie guessing the wrong way and that’s what is important, but it wasn’t the usual bury it in the side of the net that we are used to. Landon also was up top, and he like Clint and Herculez looked dangerous, I mean he was getting the ball in dangerous spots and creating scoring chances. The thing I will say about Landon though, he didn’t have his normal touch on the ball. Normally when you see him all his passes are crisp, but everytime he did a cutback pass in this game from one of his good runs it seemed to be a bouncing ball that made it more difficult on whoever was there to finish and allowed Antigua to get back and make a play on it. Overly critical, I know, but I expect better from Landon.
Another important thing to note is that Boyd is now cap tied to the USA. That’s really good to see, it wasn’t something we ever questioned would happen, but it’s one of those moments where you are happy to see it.
Overall, we had great flashes of offensive brilliance, and I’d love to see that continue for a full 90. We did pretty well in defense holding down the attack and keeping them off the ball. But our next test on Tuesday is going to be tougher. Looking forward I’d expect Torres to be out, and if Johnson is still out I’m guessing we got Castillo. I wouldn’t expect any other changes.