Hey, guess what! You know those teams with all the World Cup trophies? The ones with the history, tradition, and piles of expensive players commanding vast sums of Euros for their talent, drive, and ability to perform consistently on the big stage? They're still much better than we are. Shocker, I know. Still, none of that excuses some of the crap on display, both from players and from coach in these two opening matches of the Confederations Cup. So let's dish, shall we..?
* Too many simple mistakes. True, the first goal came from a free kick awarded to Brazil for a player tripping over his own feet. That doesn't excuse the lack of marking from said free kick. And how is it that Bob can't see that Beasley is a walking turnover machine? I counted at least three occasions where he coughed the ball up that led to direct chances for Brazil. And that's just in this game! Wake up, Bob! Beasley may be one of our most experienced players, and he's had some good success at club level as well, but at the moment, he shouldn't even be getting called up, much less be starting. The fact that he was taken off at the half says that Bob saw the problem, but why didn't he anticipate it, given all of the prior evidence?
* Bad decisions. Hand in hand with the first point, and really more of a rephrasing than its own distinct complaint, but I've got a bit of bitching to do, so excuse my piling on here, will you? Kljestan's tackle was pretty much a rerun of Clark's. Dumb tackle. Probably would have been a yellow were it not for the tackler being a no-name MLSer and the tacklee being a member of the vaunted Azzurri or sparkling Seleção. But a dumb tackle that could have been avoided nonetheless. Not that you'd have expected anything different from those two, considering the number of forced, direct balls, wayward one-touch play, and "passes" to the opposition keeper or end-line. And not that they were the only ones at fault.
* Bob overmatched? Let's review. Bob in CONCACAF? Not so bad. He reeled in a Gold Cup, has us on our way, though not particularly comfortably, to qualification, and sometimes puts out teams that look like they know what they're doing against the best the Caribbean can throw at us. But in non-CONCACAF international tourneys? And I'm not talking friendlies, because those aren't the real deal. I'm talking honest-to-goodness, multiple-game, elimination tournaments. What has he done? Let's review Copa America 2007 and the Confederations Cup so far. No wins, no draws, five losses. Three goals scored, fourteen conceded for a -11 goal difference. Hey, you got any hopes to move beyond the group stage of South Africa 2010 with Bob at the helm? Really? Pass me whatever you're smoking/drinking/shooting up.
* Altidore needs a running mate. Maybe one day, in the fullness of time, Altidore will develop into the type of striker that can play alone up top. At the moment, however, he is not that type. He functions much better with someone nearby to play quick touches with, someone to draw a little attention so that he can dart into space or have room to receive the ball. Neither Bob's awful attempt at a 4-3-3 or the 4-4-1-1/4-5-1 provides Jozy this opportunity. Is he too young to be carrying the burden of getting the goals? Maybe. But he'd probably do a damn sight better if he wasn't so isolated up top.
* Demspsey Diving. Clint used to be my favorite national team player. Used to be. I love that he still feels confident enough to break out the tricks and take on defenders. But do it in the attacking end, and do it with productive intent please! And, for crap's sake...STOP DIVING! He must have a rep by now, because even when he is getting fouled, the Whistlemen are motioning him to get up. You'd almost excuse it if he made his living in La Liga and had spent his entire career there. But for a player that made his name sticking his noggin in where it hurts and plying his trade in MLS and the Premiership...
* Reflection of Donovan. I've figured out why this US team pisses me off so much. It's because it's an almost perfect reflection of Landon Donovan. Moments of promise, even in lost causes, that ultimately fizzle? Sure. Dominant on the home front (MLS/CONCACAF), but pissy and ineffective abroad (Germany for club and country, international tournaments)? Got that too. Majority of goals coming from set pieces and not the run of play? Oh, now this is getting freaky! The thing is: there are bits and pieces there that really seem like they'll be great, but they never seem to pan out when the chips are tossed on the big table. It's frustrating. Like the frustrations I'm sure most of us have that Donovan has never really seemed to fulfill his promise or become a dominant figure on the big (international) occasion. The frustration of seeing a team that, while not a world-beater, can certainly be competitive with the world's finest. In fact, they often are...in friendlies. But when push comes to shove...
I'm tempted to go on here, but I'm going to end this by inviting you to have your say about what's going wrong, if indeed there is anything to worry about. It's not like Italy and Brazil are easy pickings. Needless to say, I'm continuing to compile a "list of what we've learned" seeing as how this is supposed to be a fact-finding mission and/or dry run for next summer. And I will present that at the conclusion of the tournament, but for now, all I feel is frustration blended with embarrassment.
Does that mean I want to see the same old "proven" players sent into action against Egypt? Hell no! We know what we're going to get out of those players. Let's see some of the kids in a more apt test. No World Cup group is going to include both Italy and Brazil. Egypt is much more reflective of the type of opponent we're going to need to beat in order to advance. So run out Torres, run out Adu. Heck, throw on the blazing-fast stone feet of Wynne. I'm pretty comfortable with the core of the team being Howard, Gooch, Boca, Bradley, Donovan, and Altidore. Around that you can mix and match. Feilhaber, Torres, and Spector should probably be in the picture. But some of the others need to rediscover themselves or make way.