For a while now, I've been unhappy with the player decisions some of the US Mens Soccer team coaches have made.
I didn't get the love affair with Demarcus Beasley as an attacking player.
I didn't get why Landon Donovan was made a striker.
I didn't get why Jozy Altidore was not starting (even if he's still a teenager).
Some of these things were discussed in the comments of my article on Landon Donovan. Walter Gibson commented how he thought Donovan would be better as a winger, where he could play in open field. I commented how Altidore should be starting—period.
Well last night, as the USA Mens Soccer team was preparing to play Trinidad and Tobago in a World Cup qualifier, something caused me to jump off the couch. The game announcers were talking about major changes in the lineup. Some were due to return from injury or suspension, but others were pure strategy changes.
What caused me to jump was that the changes were exactly what I wanted to see! Huh? Since when do I agree with any decision by a USA soccer coach—hardly ever.
Yet there is was in a beautiful ESPN graphic on my screen. Beasley moves back to left fullback, Donovan moves back to left midfield and Altidore starts at striker.
EUREKA! That's perfect! (although truthfully I would have opted to bench Beasley entirely, but no worries, I can accept him as a left back).
The game starts and very soon, one thing is obvious—the moves have had a great impact. Donovan is finding the room he needs and firing off some great left-footed crosses to his teammates. He connects with Altidore and the USA goes up 1-0.
At that point, it really didn't matter what happened the rest of the game. I was just ecstatic that Bob Bradley had found the right combination and everything was clicking.
Sure this was Trinidad and Tobago, but if you saw how they played against El Salvador last weekend, you had to appreciate what was going on. I fired off a few comments to some B/R writers in my excitement.
As if that wasn't enough, Altidore goes on to score three goals for the hat trick, all assisted by Landon Donovan. Just icing on the cake.
I went to sleep that night a happy man—and that doesn't happen too often for me after watching a USA Men's Soccer game.