Bunker Bob Gets Lucky | a USA Match Reaction

Well, we got the result we needed, but it didn't come in particularly impressive fashion, did it? Let's ignore the nail-biting finish for a moment and look at the larger picture. With the top four in the Hex looking to go right down to the wire, goal difference has to be a consideration. So when you get one of those bottom two sides in what is ostensibly "your house," it's imperative to go for the jugular. And that's something that Bob seems to either lack the tactical chops or the testicular fortitude to go for. Is this really the coach of a team with aspirations for international success? Talking points...

* Bunker numero uno. Let's think about his for a second. El Salvador wants to have time on the ball and to play at a slower, Latin pace, where their technical abilities matter more than their physical abilities. They want time to get their heads up to pick passes, to let the ball do the work. What does Bob do? Slows the pace with no pressing and a defense that sits back. Seriously? Jeebus, Bob! Press high, compress the space they have to play in, run them ragged, don't give them time on the ball to make the right decision. Don't play the game they want to play. It's not our game, is it? So why are we playing it at home? Why were we giving them so much time and space with just a one-goal lead for the last thirty minutes?

* Bunker numero dos. Let's examine that last point a bit more in the context of the officiating. We pretty much got the bog-standard crappy CONCACAF crew. Jozy's goal-that-never-was (Was he supposed to be offsides? Did he foul the last defender by breathing on him too forcefully?). Marshall and Altidore being whistled any time they dared to challenge for a ball. Dempsey whistled apparently for shielding the ball. The list goes on and on. And yet you're going to sit deep in a 4-5-1, concede space on the flanks and in midfield, allowing balls to be pumped into the box, and expect these clearly incompetent men with flags and whistles not to blow a call? Brilliant decision, Bob.

* Bunker numero tres. Let's talk substitutions. No problem with Holden for the injured Davies, though I would have preferred to see Donovan pushed high rather than Dempsey because we needed speed on the counter to keep them honest at the back. Beckerman? If Bob put him on just to please the home fans in a 2-1 match for all the marbles...ugh...because he did nothing besides run around and tap the ball out of bounds. Was that his brief when Bob sent him on? Wouldn't it have been nice to have someone who could pick a dangerous pass to replace the departing Feilhaber? Or who could possess the damn ball? And excuse me for wondering how you don't smother the opposition midfield in a 4-5-1 with two physical, hard tacklers, and how you manage to allow so much space for crosses when they scored their goal on a short cross in the first half.

Enough about Bob, how about the players?

* The weakest link. It was clearly Bornstein. His touch was awful, he left acres of space defensively, contributed nothing going forward, seemed to be a step (and a thought) behind the game, and, of course, his lame clearance eventually lead to the goal for El Salvador. So Pearce is without a club, Bornstein isn't ready for prime time, Boca's alright if we're facing superior opposition, but doesn't carry an attacking threat. Surely the pool is deep enough now that we shouldn't be struggling so hard to find at least a passable option at left back?

* 20%. Dempsey had, by my count, five excellent chances in and around the six. Yes, he buried one of them (though he was lucky not to have one of the guys standing in an offsides position be whistled for being "active"). But he only managed to put one of the other four chances on frame, that one being a lame attempt at finishing a one-on-one break behind the defense.

* Dull blade. Sure, Altidore scored on a well placed header (Hey look, we scored from open play...well, semi-open play in the disorder following a corner kick, but I'll take it) and slotted home nicely on the goal-that-never-was, but his touch was miserable for most of the game, and he didn't ever look like beating anybody one-on-one. Maybe the ref whistling him for the slightest contact threw him off his game, but he still needs time in the oven. Unfortunately, we don't really have too many options.

* Sharper blade. By contrast, Davies looked a terror on the ball, though he does lose possession a bit too much for my liking, keeps his head down a little too much, and doesn't need too much contact to go flopping. Still, given the striker crisis we were mired in before the Confederations Cup, I'll take what he's bringing. Now, if only we could unearth a left back from somewhere.

So, it's on to Trinidad, where another positive result could have things looking much rosier in the qualification picture. Still, you've got to wonder if we're just going through all these motions only to have Bob overwhelmed at the big dance. Yes, that Confederations Cup run was fantastic, but...it required massive help for us even to advance from the group stages and, lest we forget, we got crushed in the opening two matches. Pardon me for expecting a similar brick wall next summer with Bob still at the wheel.


  1. Disagree about Jozy. He looked his worst when he had two men on his back and could barely step without relenquishing the ball, but I think that was less a consequence of his poor touches and more a consequence of poor buildup of momentum, for which I fault the midfield. (Feilhaber was bullied out of the game far too easily.) When Jozy got service that he could take towards the goal, he was the calmest presence on the field and shrewd in his distribution. I can't say that he was a bastion of possession up top, but I can say that there were a fair few times when he not only received a play from the midfield with grace, but built upon it likewise in the final third. I kind of like the chemistry Jozy and Davies have up top.

  2. You can rag on Bornstein but the rest of the back four was also less than stellar. Marshall and Bocanegra did not mesh well leaving a lot of short Salvadorans with a lot of scoring opportunities mostly from crosses coming from Spector's side. Onyewu was clearly missed.

    I thought the Beckerman substitution was a good idea given his play in the Gold Cup and the fact that Feilhaber was dissappearing as the minutes wore on; but he sucked. Without Clark or Edu available, there weren't many other options though. Jones will give us some depth eventually.

    The goal that Jozy had called off was because the ref whislted Dempsey for a foul as he passed the ball to Jozy (it wasn't but that's why the ref whistled and the linesman kept the flag down and gave his "don't look at me look".

    On to Port of Spain!

  3. I think if we have a 20 year old beast who is our leading scorer and looking to break through in the EPL, and the only argument anyone can find against him is that he is unpolished...

    SO POLISH HIM, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS FOOTBALL, and start him regardless. So Davies is dangerous, that's great, but we need both of them desperately. And Davies doesn't have the scoring ouptut to match even though he's close to his speedy prime.

    ps. Castillo couldn't possibly have easier competition.

  4. Polish doesn't come from irregular international dates, it comes from regular club play. Davies is getting that, and he's been proving himself already in France. I think we all hope that Jozy will get significant time at Hull to do the same, but they've added a few more forwards to the stable, so we'll see how that goes.

    And sorry, DM, but I didn't see the same Jozy you did.

    As for the entire back line sucking, SeƱor Anonymous, I'd lay the blame more at the feet of our midfield and forwards providing inadequate pressure and there being too much space between the lines. Defense is a team exercise. That said, I don't think anybody on the field looked less comfortable in possession than Bornstein, including the goalkeepers...

    Castillo? We'll see.