- El Guzano with the one blunder, but pretty assured in the nets. Not that either he or Hahnemann faced many shots, but they held onto those that they did, which must have been a lot harder than it looked given the horrifying skating rink they were playing on and the "greasy" conditions. Did you ever play in "greasy" conditions? Man, I smelled like french fries for weeks afterward!
- Fullbacks (natch!) weren't too bad once Eddie Lewis wasn't one of them any more. That said, most of the Swiss attacks were coming down the flanks, though you didn't see too many dangerous crosses getting dumped into the box for the big bodies to feast on. One thing is for sure with our centerbacks--we've got a production line turning out some real brutes! While Gooch has occasionally demonstrated a decent touch, the rest are just living the thug life. We need somebody with a bit of patience, thought, and the ability to distribute back there. Bueller . . . Bueller?
- Along with thuggish center halves, we've also got a mint on two-way central midfielders. Christ, they're practically falling out of the woodwork, getting trampled underfoot and pushed out onto the wings . . . Edu had an impressive debut for an MLS rookie trotting out for the first time on an alpine ice-patch. While he was a bit behind the play at times, he's got a good touch, seemed to turn up in the right places at the right time, has boatloads of athleticism, and didn't seem too fazed by the occasion. Sign him up!
- That said, those central mid types don't look quite as good when they're strutting their stuff on the wings. The Feilhaber Experiment to fill the gaping void at right wing hasn't exactly been a stirring success, has it? Of course, one of those central mid-types, Szetela, did toss in the cross that Bradley eventually "smuggled" over the line. Greasy smugglers? That's got a great big heaping pile of "disturbing" writ large all over it.
- Eddie Lewis and Taylor Twellman to the white courtesy phone! Sorry boys, the youth is arriving and I'm thinking that you guys are just a bit surplus to requirements. Eddie, thanks for the years of service and good luck avoiding relegation . . . again! Twellers . . . Ah, Twellers--you just can't seem to get things clicking on the international stage. That's nothing to be ashamed of. You're great in MLS and have a quality professional career--you should be proud of what you've accomplished. But it's just not going to happen on the biggest stage of all. Sorry, thanks for trying.
- Two scrappers up top doesn't work when you've got nobody bursting from attacking midfield to join them and set the table. For all of his flash and flair (the rabona, Clint? really?), Dempsey is a scrapper. Not quite the dictionary definition that Twellman is, but a rose by any other name . . . And how about Freddy making a difference once he stepped on the pitch? Was it just me or did the whole US team seem to decide all at once to start playing with a little bit of dash and vigor? Nice to see.
- In fact, all of the youngsters out there seemed to belong. Not in a "getting to know the lay of the land" sort of way, but taking the opportunity by the scruff of the neck and giving it a good shake. Well done, boys!
- Not the prettiest game. Heck, it might not even qualify as ugly on the grounds that ugly thinks it's better than that, but a win . . . in Europe . . . without some key components. It's hard to expect the beautiful game when they should have been playing hockey out there, but the back, with a few lapses, looked pretty solid; the midfield is starting to grow and flex its muscles (even if it could use a healthy shot of creativity and pace); and we got a goal. That front line is still the weakest part of the picture and I'm interested to see what the likes of Cooper and Altidore can add to the menu. For better or worse, I smell a 4-4-1-1/4-2-3-1 cooking for the near future.
USA Recap - U-20's On Ice!
So, class--what did we learn in today's lesson? Back to front, if you please.