US Men v. Trinidad and Tobago: The glass is half…

It’s hard to feel bad about winning three points on the road in CONCACAF, since that seems to be a rarity nowadays.   Yet, it’s hard to feel totally good about this result either.

It is another perfect example of the half-full, half-empty conundrum.

I said after the El Salvador game that this match would tell us a lot about the team… and it did… sadly what it told us was pretty hard to interpret, as if spoken in some dialect I’ll never quite decipher.  Here’s what I did take away. . .

Glass Half Full View

  • USA won a critical three points, and while not a lock for the next round, it just got a lot more likely (big thanks to El Salvador for squeaking past Costa Rica.)
  • No yellow cards issued to the USA… considering our penchant for red-cards in recent tournaments, that’s quite an improvement.
  • Landon Donovan.   No offense to Carlos, but how is Landon not the captain of this team?
  • Howard made some big saves, Spector is coming into his own, and Holden has serious potential.
  • Relative to what was going on around him… I think the Bornstein haters should take a deep breath and pick on a few others for a while.  I’m certainly not his biggest cheerleader, and maybe Castillo or someone else might not usurp him, but he’s far from our only question mark.
  • A different ref, a different day, a different view… and that sliding hand-ball off Charlie D’s centering pass right at the start makes this a whole different game.
  • Apparently Bob Bradley can give a decent half-time talk.

Glass Half Empty View

  • The US midfield at times appeared like they had just met.  Passes too hard, passes to soft, passes to nobody in particular, passes directly to T&T… we tried it all.    Just a thought… how might Torres, Feilhaber and even Holden done in those key midfield roles at the start?
  • Hard for me to figure out Gooch… his towering headers in the second half will have some rate him highly, buty I thought he started slow and was indecisive at first (rusty, no doubt) and those towering headers (admittedly some important stops mixed in) typically went right back to T&T.    I wonder if A.C. Milan is thinking “loan candidate” yet…
  • If not for that cross-bar, what would this story line have been?
  • Dear Coach Bradley… why can’t you give your half-time pep talk 45 minutes or so earlier?
  • Clint Dempsey.  I’m a long time Dempsey fan and think he could be a real difference maker.    However, does someone know if the rest of the US team have all done something to annoy him?  He just seems like he’d rather be somewhere else for long stretches of recent games.   That’s not the Clint I remember…
  • Jump suit.   Could some US Supporters group chip in to by Bob B a sport coat?  Maybe a tie?  I realize there is no standard for coach attire, but he looks like he was running late from a workout and just said, “screw it, I’ll go the game like this.”  If he cannot get the team’s on-field play to respect the “beautiful game”… maybe his attire could at least?

While I know that a bad three points tonight was better than a well played tie or loss in our quest to be in South Africa next year, I just cannot get too excited about this one.

I found Bob Bradley’s quote that started “As the game wore on, our fitness was key . . . “ a stark reminder of how we still win – conditioning, running, fighting.    Or, positively spun, we “earn” our victories through “hard work.”

Effort, heart, determination and “finding a way to win” are all commendable traits that we can see in this team.    I just wish it came with a larger dose of smart, poised, cohesive, and yes, “attractive” soccer.

That would be something to get excited about.


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