Back to the Basics: US Soccer needs improvement

Michael DembyCorrespondent IJune 5, 2008

The United States men’s soccer team fell to the Euro 2008-bound Spain side 0-1 yesterday in a friendly in Santander, Spain. 

Barcelona midfielder Xavi slotted a precision shot past U.S. goalkeeper Brad Guzan in the 78’ minute after evading four U.S. defenders near the top of the penalty box.

Yes, the American side played better than their awful performance the week before against England. But, that’s not saying much.

Michael Bradley was sloppy again in the midfield, Clint Dempsey looked out of sorts and uninterested in the game, and Eddie Johnson couldn’t finish if his life depended on it.

The list goes on and on. 

The one bright spot for the Americans was the play of Benfica midfielder Freddy Adu. He made his presence known through his exceptional ball skills in traffic, ingenious passing, and the aggressive manner in which he probed Spain’s defense in order to create scoring opportunities. 

He was the only American who wasn’t outclassed by the Spaniard side and looked as if he belonged on the field with the likes of Fernando Torres, Xavi, and Cesc Fabregas. 

Unfortunately, Adu was forced out of the game during half time due to injury, and subsequently, the aggressive and insightful play disappeared. 

In the second half, the U.S. rarely held onto possession for longer than ten seconds and seemed content with trying to preserve a scoreless draw by aimlessly passing the ball around in their own half.

The U.S. Men’s soccer team needs to get back on the practice field and work on the fundamentals. Not strategy, not lineups, just the basic aspects of football such as precision passing and effective and controlled first touches.

While the Spaniards transitioned from defense to attack mode with ease, any signs of momentum generated by the Americans quickly stalled out from poor passing, indecision on how and where to play balls, and awful first touches.

It only gets worse from here. 

Next up is a friendly against the world No. 1 ranked Argentine squad, fresh of a 4-1 romp over El Tri. 

So, if the Americans plan on not getting slaughtered by the Messi-led Albicelestes on June 8, they better get on the practice field and get to work.