The Scene: The US faced off against Trinidad & Tobago last night @ Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain, Trinidad. I assume almost everyone reading this has never been to the HCS in Port of Spain, and for those of you who also missed the game on TV last night, let me tell you about the atmosphere. It’s terrible. In all candor, the bleachers looked like those of a dog track, the stadium was barely half-filled, and the fans were silent for much of the game. Thank God! We needed tame because our Nats haven’t played well in hostile environments on the road.
The Good: Well, the final score (USA 1 – T&T 0) was good, for one. As for the scheme of Skeletor (Bradley the Elder), I liked it. He was going to sub in two attacking players 60 minutes in (which shows some aggression), but thankfully Ricardo Clark (who was about to come out) notched the game winner. Clark was great, as was (once again) LD, who assisted his goal and ignited the offense in the 2nd half. Howard played good as well and helped secure the win. Otherwise, no one shined. Altidore annoyed defenders a little, and Holden did good in a sub role. Everyone else?
The Bad: Well, you know it was an ugly win when I can only applaud the performances of four players. The entire defense was poor, shanking crosses and failing to stifle attackers. Howard shouldn’t have had to make that many saves vs. T&T. The entire backline was disappointing. They all made mental errors and they certainly did not look very cohesive, despite the shutout. Up top, Davies played OK in spurts, but his possession skills are suspect. Benny Feilhaber and Chingy were late subs, so they didn’t get a chance to do much. But, what they did do was pretty bad.
The Ugly: If you thought looking into Medusa’s eyes was the scariest thing in the world, then you didn’t look into Michael Bradley’s eyes during the anthems before last night’s game. The look in his eyes was – for a lack of a better word – sadistic. In fact, he looked like he was contemplating murder. His play all night was a crime too. Usually, I love him, but he was trying to do too much, so he ended up doing nothing at all. The only other “ugly” performance came from Dempsey, who looked apathetic. I have never heard Harkes rip into a player like that before, but Deuce deserved it.
The Result: The US got 3 points on the road and one step closer to South Africa in 2010, which is great, don’t get me wrong, but… In the last week, we struggled to win games against SLV and T&T. We need to get better, and fast. We have less than 275 days to the World Cup, and we certainly do not look like a team to fear at this point. We need to get better on set pieces. We need to nail down a solid starting XI. We still need points to qualify.
I like our chances of getting to South Africa, but right now I don’t love our chances of winning it all. Hopefully, Bob Bradley feels the same way and will get this team focused on their objective. I think he can, and I think anyone who calls for his sacking prior to the Big Dance on the Dark Continent should call their therapist, because they’re crazy.
We still have a long way to go folks, but we are heading in the right direction. It’s time for us to get behind our team and push them toward success in 2010. It’s now or never.