Well, Experiment #2 was certainly more successful than Experiment #1 down in T&T. Then again, it's generally a bit easier to carry out said experiments when the laboratory is sterile and littered with Guatemalan corpses. What a putrid effort by a team supposedly fighting for their World Cup lives! In any case, the US runs out easy 2-0 winners with goals by Kenny Cooper (let the internet-nuttery commence!) and Freddy Adu (and carry on with the nuttery, thou blogo-maniacal legions!). To the talking points, Kemo Sabe!
* Super-Secret Lightning Possum Attack! Wow, what a lame outing from Guatemala. What were they hoping: to play dead long enough that the US would just shrug, give up, and walk away in search of somebody who wanted to play? They decided to wake up for a spell in the first half and then again with around 12 minutes to go, but by then, they were down two and pretty much buried. My notes were littered with such scrawl as: "If we score, it's going to be a bloodbath as they take their pound of flesh" and "ix-nay the owboating-shay, lest you get hammered," but they boys in blue couldn't even be bothered to engage in their normal petulant bloodsport. Mind you, with the way the ref was calling things, they might have got away with leaving a few mangled corpses about. As it was, the match had the feel of another lame January Scandanavian friendly (hey, did you hear? Sweden again! Sweet!) rather than a do-or-die World Cup qualifier.
* I'm in Bob's Head, Man. Check it out. What I wanted to see was closer than what I expected Bob to field. Weird, huh? The only pieces of the puzzle I missed out on were Goodson instead of Gibbs and Thorrington in place of Moor. And while we're on the topic . . .
* No More (Moor?) Thorrington at Right Back. Yes, he did have that one mad dash for what might have been called a PK (replay shows that he left his leg in to get caught, though 9 times out of 10, that one is given as a PK), but his crossing was decidedly Hejduk-esque. Add in some terrible defensive positioning, and I'll call that experiment DOA. On the other side, Bornstein wasn't much better, his similarly Hejduk-ian crossing killing a few promising US attacks and proving once again, to my eternal shame, that fullback is the weakest spot on the US roster. Christ, I should've kept playing competitively. I might have had a shot, even at my (relatively) advanced age. Actually, my age might be a bonus, seeing as how Bob was bringing in the nursing home crew toward the end there (I kid, I kid . . . I know Casey and Arnaud are still in their late 20's . . . but Jeebus, Bob! Davy freakin' Arnaud? Really?)
* The Men in the Middle. Not that they were tested very much, but Goodson and Parkhurst didn't look shabby. I always wonder about Parkhurst. His reading of the game and positioning are so good that he sometimes makes opposition attacks seem incompetent without making himself stand out in any way. I just wish he were either a little bigger, faster, or stronger (or any combination of the above). Of course, then you might argue that he never would have had to adapt the Weirding Way defensive mojo he has going on if he had been physically gifted from the get go. As for Goodson, remind me: did he know how to pass when he was with Dallas? Cause I saw him stroke a couple of beautiful long balls rather casually. I don't ever remember him doing that sort of thing in MLS. Maybe he showed up for camp and looked so good that Bob couldn't deny him, and that's why Gibbs sat?
* The Visionaries. A Kljestan-Adu combo in the attacking midfield, with freedom to roam and time to pick out passes, is a dangerous thing, and something that I wouldn't mind seeing more of. Both kids had some real quality moments, especially when it came to feeding balls through. That's something we've been missing, and certainly something to look forward to as they come into their own and have mature finishers ready to take advantage of the opportunities they provide. Mastroeni and Clark behind them were decidedly less dangerous (saving for mistimed tackles), and Clark has a frustrating tendency to try to force balls into spaces were they just won't fit. Which sucks, because I love his ability to cover massive amounts of real estate, make key tackles, and have some deft touches in tight quarters.
* The Baying of Internet Wolves. So, Ameri-soccer-blogo-sphere: are you happy now? Jozy and Coop up top. It's like Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy all showed up at your house with strippers and a truckload of blow. Kinda sucks that for a couple of big kids, they weren't winning squat in the air against some smallish Guatemalan backs. Of course, their games aren't based around aerial force, so we'll let that slide. I have to admit, I was getting a bit worried about Cooper for a while there. It wasn't until after he got the goal (and it was a nice bit of finishing) that he started really going after defenders and hitting the 35 yard Hail Mary thunderbolts that make him such a beloved figure in MLS. Before then, it was young Mr. Adu who seemed to be hoarding the shots from distance. Still, Coop had his moments, as did Altidore, particularly his off the ball movement, though I was a bit disappointed at his touch on occasion. He was frustrating--brilliant and then decidedly average in quick succession. Such are the perils of youth, I suppose.
So, now we've got a few months to get ready for the Hex. Who are we up against? Dunno. I just tried to visit CONCACAF.com, and was greeted by this . . .
Nice. What was that you were saying about respect, Jack? (Though, to be fair, that article is displaying a fair amount of disrespect as well--the US v. T&T match was a World Cup qualifier, not a friendly, and Jack's "region" does include a bit more than just the Caribbean.)
In any case, other (more reliable) sources, tell me that the Hex looks like this: Honduras, Mexico, US, T&T, Costa Rica, El Salvador. So what's your take? Who's in Bob's best XI going forward? Who's going to give us the most trouble in the next round? Which three are going direct to South Africa, and what unlucky #4 gets the unenviable task of facing down CONMEBOL opposition?