Woulda Coulda Shoulda
Reflecting on yesterday’s USA-Ghana, match I’ve come to the conclusion that perhaps we really shouldn’t be surprised the World Cup is over for the Stars & Stripes. While the team did not do poorly, well, not by 2006 or 1998 standards, they weren’t exactly setting the competition on fire either.
England is a poor team this summer. I hope they do well against Germany, but I fear it’s gonna be a difficult match. Slovenia showed us even larger problems though I’ll give Bob Bradley full marks for the adjustments he made which allowed the team to come back. Algeria pretty much played 90 minutes of ‘bunkerball’ and it wasn’t until injury time when the US managed to catch a break when the keeper bobbled his challenge with Dempsey and Donovan was in the right place at the right time.
Even finishing top of the group wasn’t that impressive though I will admit that I, and just about everyone else, was encouraged by the way the team managed to keep fighting back against the odds. However, all that did was hide the truth, the fact that while Bradley had a good team, we weren’t as good as we could have been….as we should have been.
I saw an interesting comment on Twitter last night, which basically claimed we’d by looking forward to a match with Uruguay on Friday if Charlie Davies hadn’t broken curfew before the Costa Rica match in October. While I won’t argue he wouldn’t have helped, I think losing Oguchi Onyewu in that Costa Rica match was probably more damaging. It’s obvious that “Gooch” was well short of 100% fitness in South Africa. Our backline desperately missed him.
Watching the match yesterday, I keep thinking our problems were actually in the midfield. I’m not knocking the trio of Bradley, Donovan and Dempsey. They were as good as we’ve got in their roles. If anything, I’d have liked to see Bradley a bit more withdrawn. Ghana was winning to many balls in the midfield and for large chunks of the match dominated the midfield. They were allowed to play their game and the US was left trying to win the ball back rather than being able to push forward.
I’ve seen a lot of comments about Bob Bradley’s future as coach and how he should be replaced. The arguments in favor of a new coach point to his player selection and the results. I don’t believe it’s the right thing to do. He got us to South Africa. He got us to the second round. Yes, he did have to make adjustments because the starting 11 he named just weren’t getting the job done. However, you have to give him credit for making the right adjustments. Making a coaching change will just cause the team to need to take a couple of steps back at this point. I don’t see how this will help.
At the end of the day though I don’t know how we would have done much better with “Gooch”, Davies and a different coach. Yeah, perhaps we wouldn’t have given up those soft early goals with Gooch at the back. Perhaps Davies in the lineup would have opened things up a bit more. Perhaps we could have won the group more convincingly. Maybe we could have gotten past Ghana. Lets not forget that they are a pretty darn good team as well. But then there would be the slight problem of Uruguay in the next match.
Don’t get me wrong, the team did well and I love the “fight for 90 minutes +” attitude they have. However, as painful as it was to go out like that yesterday, we weren’t gonna go much further.
The good news is, we want to do better and US fans are demanding more. I can still remember when we were like AYSO, just happy to be playing. Now we expect to win. We’ll do better, just not yet.
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