The Phoenix Has Landed | a USA Match Reaction

So where to begin? Bob runs out a couple of changes (Hooray, Tino!) and watches a pretty poor opening 45 yet elects to do nothing about it (save, presumably, some harsh words in the locker room). Instead he waits until after the hour mark to bring on Feilhaber (duh!) and Davies (double duh!), who immediately change the complexion of the game (Horray for Tino, part deux!). In the end, 2-0 was maybe about what we should have expected, but probably more than we deserved on the night. So let's hit some talking points, shall we..?

* The Phoenix has landed! It wasn't a masterpiece, but Tino turned in a hustling display, produced a few moments of class on the ball, and bagged his first national team goal in his home park. I'd say that's a job well done and a fitting cap (no pun intended!) to Tino's return from the brink. Running my eye over the field of potential USMNT right mids, I'd say he has a fair chance to work his way into the rotation if he keeps performing. Not a bad understudy for Dempsey, is he? Less flair on the ball, but a better range of passing. Not as strong in the air, but probably hustles more in defense and can provide a goal or two. Well done, Tino.

* What took you so long? How many of you found yourselves in the same boat I was in? You know, the good ship "will Bob wait too long to pull the trigger on the subs again?" Feilhaber for Pause was a no-brainer. The latter had little chance to flex his d-mid muscles with the ball being pinged over his head time after time. And in possession? Bland would be charitable. Davies for Adu? Another no-brainer as Freddy had fleeting moments but (1) was pushed off the ball too easily, (2) wasn't tall enough to get on the end of crosses or choked when he did, and (3) wanted too many touches. I'd have yanked Parkhurst if I could have as well, but who was the only option on the bench to replace him? Jay Heaps? 'Nuff said.

* What's up with the fullbacks? Pearce looked good going forward in the first, Dolo in the second. Why not both at once? Seriously, what we saw here were two fullbacks who can hit a cross. Not the looping drifters that Spector hit in the Confed Cup (to great effect, but still...), but angled, driven balls begging for noggins to bury them. As much as I liked Spector in the Confed Cup, he's still behind Cherundolo in the right back sweepstakes, assuming the fragile pair stay healthy. As for Pearce? When the pickings are slim, the less-that-stellar can often rise, but he needs a club that he's going to play for. So what's the takeaway? Dolo and Pearce when we expect to control possession or at least have good patches of it. Boca and Spector when we've got our backs to the wall and are looking play on the counter. Fair estimate?

* Just a few finishing touches. That's all we need for Rogers to solidify his place in the senior squad rotation. Namely, better crossing (how many did he drift out of play? is he taking lessons from Hejduk in Columbus?) and some more muscle. Other than that, he's got the pure winger tool-set that we've been lacking for a while now. And he can play on both sides. If we had a half-decent ref who saw fit to call a foul now and again, the left side of Honduras' defense would either have been backing off for fear of cards or walking down the tunnel because of them.

Alright, let's jump around the team and lay down a few grades...

* Perkins did what he had to do in net. Came up big on the breakaways and kept out a late free kick. No issues with him.

* Marshall had himself a good game, though he probably would have done better if he wasn't carrying the awful Parkhurst around all game. What did they do to the poor kid in Denmark? He looked awful. It's rough what the Scandanavian Defender Mines can do to a man...

* Dolo and Pearce were good enough. Both got forward to support the attack and hit much better crosses than their respective wide midfielders. Defensively, both answered the call when it came. No complaints.

* Beckerman was adequate, though I thought he was much better once he was able to play deeper with Feilhaber roaming. It can't be a joy being saddled with Pause as a running mate.

* Rogers and Tino both had good outings that threatened to be great, but never quite got there. Tino would probably shade it, if only for his goal and defensive efforts, but he gave the ball away far too often for my liking. Still, potentially man of the match? Perhaps.

* Ching was pretty average, but got a goal and was part of the nice buildup for the opener. Adu seemed to be trying too hard and was about a foot too short to get on the end of some decent crosses, though if the one headed chance he did have was any indication, it wouldn't have mattered much.

* Feilhaber made a huge difference in our possession play and the amount of dangerous chances we started to create late in the match. Always with his head up, directing traffic and the flow of play with gestures when not on the ball. Runner up for man of the match in my opinion, though only just. Might have to issue two certificates...

* Davies brought danger and energy, but what impressed me most was that he had his head up (a complaint I had about his play from the Confed Cup) and was looking to play in his teammates, including Tino for the opener. Padding the transfer fee?

* Cooper shot first and got his head up second. Typical, but a trait that we sometimes need when we're being shy about putting a few on frame. Probably not when we're 2-0 up with 10 minutes to go, but still...

* P.S. Any United fans remember when we were in the running for Chavez and Martinez off this Honduras squad in the pre-season? I can't say that Chavez stood out (though he probably would when stacked next to Burch and John), but Martinez would have been a really useful addition, methinks. Alas for what might have been...

Okay, that about does it for the immediate thoughts. I'm sure I've left something out, but I depend upon you, faithful reader, to point out my sins of omission for the benefit of all concerned. So get to work! Quarterfinals, here we come...


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