Sunday, June 24, 2007

US Snatches the Gold Cup, 2-1

Easily one of the best USA v. Mexico matches in years, arguably the best Nats performance of the Bradley era. No matter how you slice it, Bradley's got his first taste of silver and now has Copa action to wash it down with.

Yanks Abroad , Fullback, Goff, Ives, and QuarterVolley.

I'll get right into some player ratings (out of 10):

Howard - 9
Timmy has none of the calming veteran tranquility that Keller possessed but all of the passion, intensity, and drive to keep the US defense inspired 60, 70, 90 minutes into a match. Truly inspirational presence. On top of that he's got a magic touch to keep a team in the game, making clutch saves at crucial moments. In sum, Howard really impressed me tonight. USA's ranking #1 keeper without a doubt. Great job, Timmy.

Bornstein - 7
Bornstein was contributing to the attack tonight and really made his offensive presence known, confirming haunting suspicions that he actually does have some talent. Too bad he was caught way out of position on the goal, shifting the defense over to the left and leaving Guardado wide open. I won't go so far as to say he caused the goal (Castillo burned Gooch and Boca), but I'm fairly certain it could have been prevented if he were properly positioned.

Boca - 8
Wearing the captain's armband, Boca truly seemed the anchor of the US defense and would come up with crucial tackles when things were looking desparate. Commendable effort.

Gooch - 7
His best performance in a long time. He didn't look stellar but he certainly proved to everyone watching that he is a good defender of international quality. For some reason, though, it seems like when everyone touts Gooch's physical presence and size and strength, he seems to be the one being knocked around the most on the pitch.

Spector - 6
He was holding his own, but barely. That sickening collision with Guardado might have been a blessing in disguise. I hope he recovers soon. Looked very scary.

Mastroeni - 7
Nothing really wrong with his performance tonight. Had some good tackles, performed well as the typically slow holding midfielder. Stuck up for his teammates with the ref.

Feilhaber - 9
I really didn't sense his presence at all up until his blessed goal, but afterwards he seemed like the best field player on the pitch. His performance tonight will make a great case for a big international transfer or at least some significant first team minutes from HSV. Finally the public will be hearing about a stellar performance by a talented young American whose name isn't Donovan.

Beasley - 7.5
Proves yet again why he's the top left winger for the US squad. He's got speed, touch, and damned sexy ball service. Only thing is, the boy can't finish. Where's the final shot? He's not alone. Nevertheless, 'Gers will be lucky to have him come the fall. (He only went for 1.some-odd mil? That's almost insulting.)

Donovan - 7.5
Quite an average performance from Donnie, which is suprising given he was starting on the wing, but he offered nothing we haven't seen before. This coupled with the fact that tonight was really Feilhaber's time to shine. Although, I have to say, his penalty taking technique was great to watch. Sanchez had no idea what was happening to him.

Dempsey - 6
Dempsey is one of a small group of Americans who can come up with a crucial touch with no space to work, but that doesn't excuse the fact that he doesn't defend in any significant fashion nor does he have a nose for goal. He wasn't dampening the offense, but he wasn't exactly Greased Lightning either.

Ching - 7
I'm sure a lot of people would rate him worse, but both he and Twellman proved to me tonight that as veteran strikers, they still serve a purpose in the U.S. squad. Ching has more scrap in him than anyone else on the pitch and he can really damage the opposing defense with his back to the goal. I'm really sorry he bit the post on that one because it was great to see him fight off three green shirts and get the keeper Sanchez on his knees.

Subs:

Simek - 6
Honestly, for his thirty minutes on the pitch, I really didn't see him do any better than Spector.

Rico Clark - 7
Ives says Clark and Feilhaber were establishing themselves as a nice tandem in midfield. I'd have to see the second half again but he certainly didn't hurt the US performance on the pitch.

Twellman - 6
He is at the very least a veteran striker, whether or not he has the goals to prove it. The simple fact that he was onsides to receive a random Bornstein clearance upfield is proof to me that he just might be the difference between a draw and a win one day. Plus, after Feilhaber scored, Twellman looked totally psyched to hit up that scoresheet. Keep on truckin, TayLor.

Refereeing - 8
Adequate refereeing, which, relative to CONCACAF, means it was well above the standard. Kept things from erupting between the rivals, which is no small feat, I'm sure. Certainly nothing to blatant as the Canada offsides.

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Other notes, in no particular order:

-Donovan is still kissing his hands before games and penalty kicks. Very superstitious...

- Beasley is getting muscled, ergo nullified, by Mexico's def.; Mexico seems to be taking a cue from Canada.

- Through the 20th, Mexico's style of play seemed to consist of strong, hard touches to eat space, blinding speed onto throughballs to harass the wings, and voodoo magic to work the ball to the center. Worked like a charm, though not so soon or so often as they hoped.

- Hey, whaddya know: the midfield is pitching in on defense. Go USA!

- Mexico is damn good on the counterattack.

- I just realized: today was Feilhaber's first real test with the MNT. This one's for all the marbles. And damned if he didn't use this opportunity to make a name for himself, too.

- Regardless of Ching and Twellman's good qualities, the US is in DIRE need of an attacker who can finish with some level of consistency. We have no real scoring threat, save for Donovan every other game. Charlie Davies, if you're waiting for the opportunity to establish a dangerous reputation, Copa is it.

- Tim Howard is a beast and deserves everything Everton has to offer.

- Bornstein had a super hard shot in the first half that looked really great. It was a wicked rocket bullet that was only overshadowed by the cannon blast that loosed itself from Feilhaber's foot to win the game. Don't worry, Bornstein: I saw you do it.

-In contrast to the USA, Mexico's midfield is damned laggardly or even absent on defense.

- Learn to shoot, Dempsey.

- I'd like to see Onyewu connect with someone through a ground pass.

- Bradley needs to whip these guys into shape up top. What horrible finishing. Beasley, Ching, Twellman, Dempsey -- disappointing.

- Tim Howard is golden.

Congrats, Yanks. Tip of the hat to Bob Bradley. Thrilling performance. I look forward to the Copa to see what lies in the USMNT future.

Enjoy yourselves, boys.

1 comment:

Fullback said...

I'd take issue with you on a couple of points. While Howard came up big at the major time of asking, I didn't think he dominated his box like he should have. He seemed reluctant to leave his line when the box was getting busy and I think that almost cost us in a couple of situations.

Bornstein for me didn't contribute much and I thought that Spector/Simek did a pretty adequate job nullifying a genuine threat in Guardado on Mexico's left. Beasley as well wasn't terribly effective. He did well to relieve pressure a few times, but I didn't think much of him in this game and that final miss was absolutely unforgivable in that situation.

I really liked Ching's ability to bring the rest of the attack forward - his distribution to runners from the midfield was a particular highlight of the second half for me. The problem is that he's very effective when we're counterattacking, but less so when we're trying to break sides down which makes him more of a situational player for me than an automatic starter.

I'm not optimistic about the Copa, but it should still be pretty interesting and I'll be intrigued to see what Bob can do with the limited crew he's got at his disposal.