The United States National Team defeated their Australian counterparts 3-to-1 this morning, with Edson Buddle stealing the headlines on the back of his two-goal performance.
The game, though a nice victory, was a bit of a bland appetizer before next week’s main course of the a first-round matchup against England. A small stadium, poor field and half-throttle play for stretches of the game made it hard to get over excited about today’s victory.
And while I could use my previously favored method of looking at the glass as being either half full or half empty over a number of areas, with a week before the World Cup – where the glass is either over-flowing or shattered – I will instead just poke at a few interesting themes.
- I’m having trouble deciding what’s more frightening… Oguchi Onyewu starting against England on June 12th or him not starting against England on June 12th. If he starts, Bob Bradley has more faith in talent and experience than recent competitive game-time or proven recent form. If Gooch doesn’t start, Jay DeMerit and Clarence Goodson need to play a whole bunch better against England.
- Do we fall out of love that easily? I’ve seen some of the post-match analysis from the “usual suspects” and the name that seems missing? José Francisco Torres. I’ve not been very impressed by the Michael Bradley and Ricardo Clark combination’s ability to close things down, possess the ball in the midfield or add the creative element so missing from most of our games. Torres was a pint-sized revelation against Turkey, but didn’t get a sniff of the field today. I haven’t seen any reports regarding Ricardo Clark’s apparent injury, and I hope he’s fine, but an injury there might force Coach Bradley’s hand a new direction. (However, it’s not clear that it would tilt him toward Torres over Maurice Edu…)
- Luckily, US fans can move from man-crush to man-crush fairly easily. With our Torres love being put on the back burner since he didn’t play today, it’s now Edson Buddle, 24×7. Hey, two goals will do that. I’m happy to join the bandwagon and am all for playing forwards who are confident and in a hot-streak. Oddly the USA appears to have at least two of them, but US Soccer golden-boy Jozy Altidore isn’t one of them. Time will tell how bad Jozy’s sprained ankle really is, but at this point, I’m more worried about the center of the formation – both in midfield and defense – than who is up front.
- Clint Dempsey appears to have a chip on his shoulder. This is good – as long as he doesn’t get pulled into some silly fouls. I sure hope Landon Donovan wakes up with a similar chip… just so we don’t leave anything to chance. Can we start a rumor that David Beckham was up in the stands calling him Landycakes?
- Every team needs a player who frustrates them by adding some ingredients the team really needs (like speed) while frequently screwing up the easy (looking) things. For the USA, this is Robbie Findley.
Today’s win against Australia was a positive step forward. It was imperfect. It showed areas of weakness. But it was a win.
England, however, is more than a little better than Australia. Luckily, the USA is more than a little better than it played today.
Have a good week boys, the real game is next.