Thoughts on USA v. Chile

Considering Bob Bradley was exploring the shallow end of the player pool (or was it the kiddie pool?), the disjointed defense, inability to connect the passing dots, and generally ugly, frenetic play was to be expected from out-of-season fringe players without experience together trying to prove themselves to the boss. Though we were getting reports of Bob insisting on Barcelona-style pass-and-move in camp, there was only one real flurry of coherent attack in the first half. In time-honored tradition, it was when the US conceded the point that maybe Chile played the technical game better and got on with being direct and physical that things started happening more consistently in attack.

With that in mind, it should be of little surprise that few players made a case to shove off towards the deep end of the pool. Dax McCarty covered tons of grass and contributed to both attack and defense demonstrating some incisive passing sprinkled in amongst the poor giveaways. Tim Ream continued to impress, particularly with his calm distribution from the back. Juan Agudelo instantly made things happen for a program that often struggles with just that sort of problem.

On the other end of the scale, Chris Wondoloski, Marvell Wynne, and Jeff Larentowicz can exit the pool altogether. They're good enough MLS players, but I can't ever see them being at home on this level. You could make an argument for Wondoloski not getting enough service to impress and struggling with the lone striker role, but I just don't see him ever being a factor for the full national team. Brek Shea, on the other hand, probably will make that step someday, but he needs to go back into the over for further cooking, particularly since he doesn't play a position of need, as say Omar Gonzelez, in a very similar situation, does.

The remainder were somewhere in between though positional need and promising moments mean I wouldn't mind another look at Zach Loyd (out of control at times, but confident on the ball in a way I like from fullbacks), Mikkel Diskerud (was trying too hard, but I think he'd be better surrounded by higher quality, calmer players where he's complimentary rather than central to attacking efforts), and Teal Bunbury (took his penalty well and caused problems with his physicality, though he also killed a few attacks by playing backwards rather than staying positive).

I'll be interested to see the roster for the Egypt game. Did anybody here impress Bradley enough (both in camp and in the game) to earn a look with the big boys?


  1. Brief lapse of judgment aside, Dax McCarty looks like exactly what United needs in terms of reacquiring the ball in midfield and using an insightful pass to spark a play into the opposition's final third. I think he's the missing piece of United's puzzle. I was also impressed with his leadership: he carried the armband confidently and with poise. Color me excited for this coming season. Can't wait to see him suit up in black and red.

    Also, was Brek Shea so satisfied with his performance on the wing that he decided to take up a central position as well? What was he thinking? Completely screwed up the team's geometry, and thereby the flow and momentum of the kind of passing game Bradley seemed to be going for in the first half--not to mention the defensive liabilities he caused, what with Zach Lloyd bombing up the field so often. Shea was playing as if Diskeruud weren't there, which is a shame, because Mixx seems to have the kind of foot skills and 1-2 play that would complement Dempsey, Holden, or Bradley really well.

  2. Spot on, DM, though I still think United are one significant piece shy of completing the puzzle (the goal-scoring shaped piece).

  3. McCarthy was a story of two halves. He did well as the center attacking mid in the 4-2-3-1. He worked particularly well with Shea due to their familiarity with one another.

    Once he was switched with Diskerud to play next to Larentowitz, he covered ground but just seemed to be chasing the game His passing was of and two nearly led to goals for Chile.

    That tells me that I'd like to see hi more forward with United and not working from deep in midfield. We've got guys that can do that anyway. The key will be to determine how we can get McCarthy, Boskovic, Najar and Santino on the field together and who ends up playing inside and who ends up playing out wide.

    As for the rest of the national teamers, Agudello looked okay, Bunbury wasn't as impressive for me. He played with Agudello but he often seemed to miss the guy making the open run (usually Diskerud). That was what was weird about Diskerud - he didn't see a lot of the ball, but he seemed to working hard off the ball making runs or getting into positions that went un-rewarded. I don't know if that is the sign of a good football brain that the more experienced national teamers will catch on to, or just youthful exuburance running all over the place.

  4. ???

    To me it looked like McCarty was playing alongside Larentowicz from the get-go, though he did have a brief to get forward when appropriate (as Diskerud had the freedom to drift between Wondo and the midfield four--flat in defense, wings pushed on in attack--thus appearing on the forward line as often as in the midfield). For my money, McCarty will be much more effective box-to-box, connecting attack and defense, than as either a dedicated d-mid or a-mid.

    I'm with you on Bunbury and Diskerud though. Mixed bags that lead me to shovel them into the "not ready for prime-time" pile.

  5. In terms of scouting the future, I thought this game was just lovely - ripe with promise. Bunbury and Diskerud may not be ready for prime time, but it's not hard to imagine them maturing into readiness naturally, given where they are now. So too Agudelo, who also has something hard to predict - a sense for the golden moment, a thirst to make the play everyone will remember from the game.

    I'm a Chicago fan, and I'm wishing we'd gotten McCarty. It's not hard to imagine him in the center of a United midfield for years to come. Great pickup.