It wasn’t pretty, that’s for sure, but it’s a victory nonetheless.
The U.S. hadn’t played in Cuba for over sixty years. From the looks of the field, it hadn’t been landscaped in approximately the same period of time.
It was bumpy and uneven. It was slick and wet. The lights were worse than most high school football team’s. The conditions flat out sucked.
But, such is the wily ways of home teams in these qualifiers. Any advantage one can grasp is usually taken and pitch conditions and lighting are two easy ways to throw an opponent off their game.
The field conditions just weren’t enough to overcome the fact the U.S. was vastly more talented than Cuba though and the final result is a 1-0 victory for the U.S.. The MNT now has two away wins to open this round of qualifying and appears to be a lock to advance to the next round.
The low score looks a little misleading as the U.S. controlled possession throughout the game. Even in the second half when Cuba should have been pressing, they were too overmatched to push the ball out of their half of the field.
The Cuban team wasn’t very competitive, but that didn’t stop them from almost forcing a draw late. Howard made a good save though and the U.S. was three points richer.
Clint Dempsey’s lone goal held up for the Nats. It was a nice, controlled strike for Dempsey, who otherwise looked pretty poor. He did make one strong dribbling manuever, but overall he appeared to be frustrated. Ching got the assist and looked pretty good, though certainly not too dangerous.
The defense played well. Pearce didn’t impress, but didn’t blow it either. Gooch and Boca were good and Frankie was running tirelessly. In the middle, Bradley and Edu played well together. Beasley looked like he hadn’t played 90 minutes in a while (he hadn’t), so it’s good he got a little PT. Donovan looked good, but underutilized in Bradley’s scheme.
Just as after the GUA game, you can’t really be upset with the result. Three points is certainly nice.
It’s hard to be too excited when you only beat the #92 by one goal and that goal is kind of a fluky long ball type miscue. Against Cuba, Ching gets that rebound and gets it to Dempsey who puts it away. The same long ball against Italy, Spain, England, etc. would have been easily headed clear. It’s nice to see a win, but I’d like to see us generate some more real offensive opportunities.