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.

US Men v. El Salvador: The glass is half…

Since thinking through results of soccer matches require a fair bit of perspective, and I’m often in need of some emotional detachment . . . I’m going to try offering a view double-sided view  of the US v. El Salvador game (and maybe others)  via a glass half-empty vs. glass half-full analogy.

(With this game, I am doubly drawn to a “halfway” view of an analysis, since that’s about how much of the game I saw . . . due to a significant (and certainly user-error-driven) mistake in DVR planning.)

Glass Half Full View

  • USA won a critical three points, just as they needed to and remains on track for qualification.
  • If it were not for some phantom calls (Dempsey-to-Jozy?) and a mis-hit breakaway (a tired Dempsey) this could easily have been 4 to 1
  • Seeing Davies and Altidore up there as a growing tandem warms the heart
  • In counter-attacks (and some pure passing motions) we often move quickly, precisely and are hard to deal with going forward
  • Presuming Charlie Davies isn’t badly injured, we got out of Salt Lake City without any yellow card or injury trouble (that we didn’t come in with)
  • CONCACAF referees are not what we would like them to be, and if there’s a karma issue here, hopefully we spent a good deal of the mystery call voo-doo that was coming our way in this game

Glass Half Empty View

  • We are incapable of keeping possession and managing a game against even presumed lesser teams – scenes from Azteca in midfield all over again, no possession . . . meaning any precise attacking sequences occur far to infrequently and the defense is constantly under pressure
  • Left-back roulette continues with the unspectacular Bornstein, the (club) homeless Pearce and the often-recalled-to-center-back Bocanegra . . . can Castillo or Orozco help?
  • Central defense was OK, if not over-powering . . . but if Onyewu is the answer we may be in for a wild ride (poor pre-season with AC Milan for my money, and hasn’t been playing since heading to Italy)
  • Qualifying just got incredibly interesting, especially now that Mexico has remembered how to play soccer . . . 3-0 at Costa Rica?  Ouch.
  • If this is indeed the best players we have in the country (and I’d have trouble naming an altogether different bunch)  and we continue to give up early goals and cannot control against CONCACAF minnows . . . is the coaching door really closed until after the World Cup?

Wednesday night’s game versus Trinidad and Tobago might tell us if we are full, empty, or in need of a new glass altogether.

Also, I wanted to point out a great blog over at the excellent No Short Corners.    Always on my must-read list, this particular post covers Colombia’s victory (always close my heart after the USA), the decisions against Arsenal and Chelsea this week and a very interesting commentary on the shady Jack Warner, the Trinidadian who is CONCACAF President.