Thursday, September 10, 2009
US 1 - T&T 0
The US didn't really play a strong game but still emerged with the 3 points that they really needed. Now with Costa Rica choking away their Concacaf lead, it looks like the US only needs a draw at home vs CR in their last qualifying game (even if they lose their next game in Honduras) in order to qualify for the 2010 World Cup.
It was surprising to see that T&T were the ones with the better scoring chances in the first half, including Cornell Glen's lob over Tim Howard that fortunately clanged off the crossbar. Our attack looked out of sync for much of the match and even though it seemed like a wide open game, we weren't really able to put much pressure on their defense. I had a hard time understanding why we used 2 defensive minded central midfielders to start the game against a weak T&T squad. There just seemed to be a hole below our forwards and in between our wingers. Clearly when Benny Feilhaber substituted into the game, we had a lot more flow in the center of the field. And then when Ricardo Clark was the one who ultimately hit that amazing, swerving game winning shot, US fans were absolutely floored I'm sure.
There has been a lot of critics about Dempsey's play this year and some of it does seem to be deserved. Sometimes he is disconnected from our attack, as he was often last night. However, as Bob Bradley pointed out, you just never know when he will provide a few moments of game changing brilliance. I think we should experiment with Dempsey in the center of the midfield, flanked by Landon still on the left and Stuart Holden on the right. Dempsey will be more involved in flow of play, even if its for a touch or two. Holden has sent in dangerous crosses from the right wing in the last 3 qualifiers and has been very solid defensively. Of course, this means that Bradley (or Clark) will have to hold down the fort in terms of midfield defensive duties.
Defensively, Tim Howard was excellent, keeping us in the game until we got our attack sorted out. Bornstein, started for his speed and for lack of other options, actually played okay. Bocanegra seemed pretty shaky back there and is starting to make me wonder if he deserves to start at all. Gooch also unfortunately looked a little rusty now that he's on the AC Milan pine and he committed a few fouls that the Gooch of 2006 was known for.
But anyway you look at it, 6 points from the past 2 games is a great outcome no matter how the points were scored. Next game - Oct 10 at Honduras.