USA Reaction - The Rain and Spain

So the rain in DC gave me a chance to watch a garbled, lo-res, buffering, Chinese presentation of the USA contra España match while I waited to see if United-Houston would ever get underway. Now, given the crappy quality of my tiny little browser window overlooking this match, I'll throw out more than my normal quota of caveats (ain't Latin fun, kids?).

* Looked to me like Adu was playing slightly beneath EJ, putting us in a 4-4-1-1 or 4-2-3-1 (when in Spain, play as the Spanish?), which actually didn't look too bad. In the Bradley-standard 4-4-2 with two holding mids, those holding types are disconnected from the forwards, forcing us to either go long-ball or push it wide before it can get high. Barring that, the wide mids drift inside and we end up with the box midfield, which negates any potential wing threat. Freddy was getting deep enough to pick up balls from defense and the holding pair, allowing the wings to get forward and receive balls from him in advanced positions, rather than having to dribble two defenders.

* Speaking of Freddy, he looked pretty sharp (why was he subbed out, Bob?). Young Adu was breaking out the tricks, but unlike a certain Mr. Dempsey, doing so didn't cost us possession. You've got to love the confidence the kid is showing. Here's hoping the hints that we saw at the U-20's bear fruit for the senior squad because we desperately need players with creativity, flair, and vision to complement the existing athleticism and speed. How else are we going to break down CONCACRAP bunkers and avoid looking like shlubs at the next World Cup? Isn't his 19th birthday just around the corner? 19, for crap's sake! Let's all cross our fingers, clutch our rabbit feet, and pray that he gets more playing time next year. Even if he doesn't live up to the massive hype (who really could?), he can still be a pretty fantastic player for the USA.

* Holy crap! Was that EJ that I saw actually taking on defenders and getting shots off? Nothing terribly dangerous, but positive signs nonetheless. Time for more crossing of fingers and clutching of rabbit's feet. An EJ that gets his feet under him in the Prem and starts getting some confidence is an EJ that we could really use in qualifying. Of course, he did manage to blow yet another golden opportunity with the header early in the second half. Good God, man! Get a shrink or something, we need you focused and predatory. What happened to that guy that couldn't stop banging them in during his first run with the senior side?

* Bradley Jr. is working his way out of my good graces. He commits too many dumb tackles in dumb places. Sure, he'll probably learn better as he navigates his way through those treacherous 20's, but those are the kind of mistakes that can kill us. Giving up set pieces in dangerous spots is an easy way to lose or draw games that we deserve to win in CONCACAF.

* Yikes! More from the Central Defensive Stupid School as Xavi uses one little shimmy to kill two US center backs, waltzing (flamenco-ing?) his way to goal. Sure, he's a tricksy little wizard with the ball, and I love to watch him play, but our defenders shouldn't be doing the same, should they? Ugh. Get a tackle in, for the love of Pedro!

Still, I'm more positive after this match than the England fiasco. 1-0 to Spain, in Spain, while creating a few legitimate chances and not giving up too many on your end (despite ceding possession fairly heavily) is nothing to sneeze at. Now it's back home to face probably the toughest of our three very strong opponents--the Argentines. What am I hoping for? More attacking threat. Better decisions defensively. And a goal. A goal would be really nice. That's not too much to ask, is it?

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