Those expecting the US Men’s National Team to have a second poor outing against a regional opponent in World Cup qualifying were denied last night, as the US Men posted a solid 3-0 victory over a hapless Trinidad & Tobago side.
The game showed several things, including that Jozy Altidore has clearly arrived as a star on this team, a change to formation and personnel was needed, and occurred, which made a difference, and T&T is a piss-poor team.
First, what can you say about Jozy Altidore? Many fans of the USA have been clamoring for him to get more playing time, and he delivered with three goals in his first start for the US team.
He paired well with Brian Ching up top, where Ching does the dirty work by attracting defenders and holding the ball up, and Altidore makes runs at and behind defenders and finishes with his known clinical skills.
Altidore hasn’t been playing much for his current club team, Xerez, of the Spanish second division, but his play last night should open up some eyes. Altidore is now safely a mainstay starter on the US team.
Second, great moves by Bob Bradley in shifting the formation and changing some players on the starting squad. Beasley moved to left back, Donovan to left midfield, Pablo Mastroeni replaced Sacha Kljestan in the middle, and Brian Ching and Altidore were paired up top in a 4-4-2.
It worked quite well, as Mastro provided the defensive bite in the middle of the park and Donovan was able to see the ball more and used the width of the field to cut inside and make runs and passes to the forwards.
I think Beasley did alright; he moved into the attack well at times, but showed he is not ready yet at the left back position as he got burned on a few occasions by the Trinidad right mid Carl Edwards.
I also think he lacks the size and defensive skill to play against the best in the world at that position, which means that Beasley may be ill-suited in that role next summer in South Africa.
Overall, I definitely think this formation and lineup will stay with us through the summer, with some tweaking of course.
What can you say about Trinidad? They were just plain horrible on the night. No aggression, no heart. They looked like they did not want to be out there on the field, plain and simple.
They rarely challenged the US defense, and left gaping holes on defense, leaving their goalkeeper angry and frustrated with his teammates and several occasions. The US should rejoice in beating T&T, but given how many chances they gave the US, we really should have won 5-0 or 6-0.
Especially after the first goal, we had multiple point blank chances we did not put away, and if we can’t do that against inferior competition, what happens when we face the Spains and Brazils of the world?
So overall, a great victory for the boys over a weak opponent. We have a ways to go, still. We will be tested in June, when we go play Costa Rica on the road and Honduras at home, followed by the Confederations Cup against Italy, Brazil, and Egypt.
Those games will really give us a chance to show whether we can hang with the big boys or if we are still a second tier squad on the world stage.