TAKE NOTICE: The first round of the USMNT v. The World is in the books. We went an anticipated 1-1, with a loss to Brazil and a win over Mexico.
Brazil brought a real squad and treated the USMNT like little boys who thought they were all cool and smooth until their mom found out they were skipping school:
Yeah, Brazil beat dat ass real quick and then just chilled for the rest of the match. We had no possession, we lacked confidence on the ball, and we could not make any passes in the final third to save our lives. Our defense was stretched and Antonee Robinson, whom I still believe is our best left back, got roasted into another dimension by Douglas Costa’s electrifying ability.
The Brazil match exposed much of our inexperience, our lack of strength, and our inability to play effectively through the midfield under pressure. I attribute this to our missing several players who, in my mind, are essential to competing against top opposition like this. Also, I attribute our poor play to the always terrible and incredibly ineffective 4-1-4-1 formation. This stems from poor coaching and needs to change. I understand that the personnel to play other formations may not be there, or that Dave Sarachan feels this is a Goldie Locks formation for both defense and offense, but he is incorrect on all levels. To play that formation you need a strong defensive midfielder with speed; you didn’t have that in Will Trapp. To play that formation you need a strong midfield that knows how to play cross-field and diagonal passes to break down the defense; you didn’t have that. Finally, to play that formation you need a strong solo-striker who can make things happen on his own and can effectively hold the ball up or run in behind the defense; shocker incoming… YOU DIDN’T HAVE THAT!
Other sad facts from the Brazil match – Paul Arriola cannot cross the ball, Will Trapp is slow, Julian Green is the softest defender ever, and our passing in the final third needs to come a very long way if we expect to get goals from the run of play on teams like Brazil.
The bright side of the Brazil match is that Zack Steffen is our keeper for sure and our back four looks pretty solid (outside of Douglas Costa’s roast pit that caught Robinson a few times) with DeAndre Yedlin, John Brooks, and Matt Miazga all playing pretty well. Robinson is raw still, but he did well in getting forward and putting crosses into dangerous areas. When you get beat by one of the best wingers in the World, yeah it happens and I’m not gonna fault you for it too much. The passing from Brooks was a thing of beauty all night. He really was dropping the ball on a dime, especially on those cross-field passes to find Yedlin wide open. Brooks looked like his old self again and really showed that he is here to stay as the anchor of our defense. He and Miazga also looked dangerous on our set pieces. The height they bring and their aggressive nature in the air really showed how we can be effective off of corners and free kicks. Our few chances at putting some points on the board came only from those set pieces. With some better service and cleaner headers, we’ll put plenty in the back of the net. #GHANAREMEMBERS
No player ratings needed for this match because they were all so low. That’s right America, not everyone is getting a trophy here because they don’t deserve one. It sucks to suck.
The takeaway from the Brazil match – there is plenty of work to be done and this squad isn’t ready to win a World Cup yet. But they got some good experience and learned some valuable lessons from this. Onto the next one.
Mexico brought a youthful squad similar to the US squad that was sans-Brooks. This was a much more even match for the US squad and its Mexico, so we were definitely going to play up for this one.
Now, if you thought Antonee Robinson did poor against Brazil, then what the hell do you call Eric Lichaj‘s performance against a poor Mexico side? I call it a runaway hot garbage fire! He was lost, and he simply couldn’t keep up with the pace of the game. He was not able to play with Tim Weah ahead of him and really hindered Weah’s game. Weah even had to cover all the way back to the end line to help Lichaj out. Not a good look bro.
Yeah, please find a new backup to Antonee Robinson. I’d rather bring back DaMarcus Beasley than have Lichaj in again. Luckily, Robinson came on in the second half and really provided the spark that brought the USMNT the win. He brought pace, got forward, and put his usual dangerous crosses in. He laid one cross off to Tyler Adams, and the young man slotted it home perfectly. Robinson’s second assist for the USMNT, and he has provided Weah and Adams their first international goals on a silver platter with his great service. Not enough can be said about Adams’ work ethic. The kid just never stops moving and going full speed. He was back in defense, he makes 40 yard runs to get into the box, he’s out wide, he’s in the announcer booth, he’s in the parking lot, and then he’s there to score a goal. You just can’t stop him.
As for the defense, Steffen was a brick wall again. The reflex saves he made were incredible, and he is showing off more of his sweeper-keeper ability. I think he was inside the box handling that ball and managed to drop it once he was outside, but it was close. He’s still our number one and will be for a while. Cameron Carter-Vickers stepped in along side Miazga with no Brooks for this one. The pair did their thing and shut things down inside the box. Solid communication between the two, but clearances could have been a bit more effective. If you’re gonna clear it, just hoof it out of there. Miazga, probably the greatest display of the night, brought the rivalry to full froth as he bodied Mexican players and proceeded to inform them that if they want to ride an American roller coaster, then they need to get a bit taller. Uncle Sam don’t play with that weak sauce.
Sometimes they forget you’re an American and you just got to let the know how big you are…
The other defender who many seem to forget is Shaq Moore. Should anything happen to Yedlin, Moore is our best option. Every time he steps on the field he shows his hunger, his pace, and his fearless nature. He was solid in one-on-one defense, and he knows how to get forward. He had a great run into the box and almost put a header to the feet of Gyasi Zardes to finish off for a goal, but he just misplayed his touch slightly. Having him on one side and Robinson on the other really brings a dynamic nature to the defense and the midfield. Keep your eyes out for him to make a big difference for us one day.
Tim Weah came with his usual pace and look hungry for a goal. That is what we need. We need a person who is willing to take chances and shoot the damn ball. More shots on goal = more chances to score people, it is not calculus. Let the man fire away. I think he needs to be up front for us in a 4-4-2 formation, even if he is playing underneath a solo striker like Bobby Wood or Gyasi Zardes who need all the help they can get to find a chance on goal. He simply is our best chance in the final third right now and he can make things happen by himself or by drawing defenders and opening others up.
Kellyn Acosta put in a Kellyn Acosta performance. The man is athletic and he works his butt off, but damn he needs to fix his touches and his loose passes. It simply is not cutting it right now, but I see a spot on the bench for him. He has talent, but the final product is far from being there.
Weston McKennie – please let him be fine. Supposedly only a sprained knee, so hopefully he can rest up and get back to his dominant role in the midfield for the US and for FC Schalke 04.
Will Trapp – too slow, not physical or technically sound enough, but passed well and settled things down as needed in the second half. His spot is the one I fear the most. He hasn’t been a dominant force, he seems to be outplayed by every opponent, and I think that someone like Danny Williams is a far better player in that position. Also, let us all bow our heads in silence and say goodbye to Will’s ankles which are forever buried at Nissan Stadium after he got destroyed on the end line… RIP.
All in all, a solid performance and a positive result for a youthful squad versus another youthful squad. Anytime you beat Mexico it is meaningful for the US. Still work to be done though.
The USMNT have a month break until they’re back at it again versus Colombia and Peru on October 11th and 16th respectively. The Colombia match is in Tampa, FL, and the Peru match is in East Hartford, CT. Both will be tough challenges, but will likely prove to be good tests for the US.
What I would like to see for those matches is the US to actually have a coach by then who is implementing a proper strategy for building this team, demanding the most of the players, getting results, and working our way to the 2022 World Cup. It is sad it has taken this long to find a coach and we are only doing ourselves a disservice by playing out this interim charade through 2018. Also, I would like to see more of the core group of players whom we will lean on moving forward. We have served the youth thus far, and I hope those players continue to come in, but it is time to build the rapport of the actual squad who will be there for qualifying.
I would like to see some of the previous call-ups brought back so we can piece together what we have into a respectable lineup with the likes of Christian Pulisic (out this time for a minor injury), Kenny Saief (minor injury), Danny Williams, Jorge Villafana (to back up Robinson), Keaton Parks, and Erik Palmer-Brown.
With some of these players, and those who were included in the most recent call-up, as well as other whom I might be forgetting (let me know who you think should be there in October), we could really bring a fire lineup. Personally, I’d like to see the following: a 4-4-2 with Steffen, Yedlin (or Moore), Miazga, Brooks, Robinson, Saief, McKennie, Pulisic, Adams, with Weah, and Josh Sargent up top. A lineup with so much fire it has to be dubbed “The USS Manifest Moneyshot”
There is still a long road ahead, but every match counts and every weekend means a new opprotunity for US players to prove themselves around the World. So keep up the support and be ready for October. It will be a fun fall as we take on more of the World’s best. The boys will be there and you better bring the support full force.
Just remember that, as Americans, there is no obstacle we can’t overcome. WE WILL RISE!!!
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Your humble servant,
Mr. Silence Dogood