Quick Thoughts on USA v. Panama

There's the embarrassment of sending out a less-than-full-strength side and getting spanked at home by the world champions. And then there's that oh-so familiar feeling to soccer fans the world over of being the superior side, playing well, and yet being victimized by a ref or caught on the break.

C'est le jeu.

Then there's the disgust of seeing a side sloppy and unprepared; slow to every second ball (and first, if we're honest—did you see the number of guys looking for somebody else to make a play on a loose ball?); unable to build coherent attacking play; lacking commitment, effort, and confidence; and generally appearing as if they thought they could sleep-walk through the match and get a result.


And even with all of that said, there was a late response that nearly snatched a valuable point. Imagine if the effort and sharpness had been there for 90 minutes. Some of that falls on the players. A bigger weight of blame falls on Bob. The hallmark of his teams always used to be being über-prepared but unable to adapt when the match changed tactically.

No so much any more.

Some high(low)-lights?

* Donovan did not look sharp from the run of play early, nor from his set pieces throughout. Sure, the goal did come from a Donovan set piece, but considering the number of opportunities he had and the number of goals the US gets from set plays...not good. We miss Holden, who serves a deadly ball.

* The Goodson-Ream pairing gives little confidence against quick opposition, but then, Gooch has been even worse. What's plan C? How about picking one of Goodson/Ream/Onyewu and pairing them with Bocanegra and playing with an attacking left back? I understand using Boca at left back against even-strength or superior opposition, but why in games where we expect to dominate possession and get overlapping fullbacks into attacking positions? Lichaj?

* Didn't take Jermaine Jones long to erase that little bit of good feeling he'd built up with me in the last match.

* My early notes said, "Hard to see this team scoring two" when the US went down 1-0. And yet there were 2-3 good chances in the first half and 3-4 glorious ones in the second. Finishing, finishing, finishing. Wonder if Agudelo off the bench against tired legs would be more effective than starting him? It's certainly where he's made his mark in the past.

* Damn what I wouldn't give to have Chandler on this roster. I know he and Bob agreed on a rest, but if this tournament is that important...

* There were some pretty, coherent passages of play late on. Why did it take 75 minutes to get there?

Amateur hour. That's the impression I'm left with. And yet, according to my quick figures, a US win against Guadaloupe, beaten by both Panama and Canada, in the last match assures them at least second place in the group. Still, it will require effort, commitment, and focus and leaves the possibility of encountering a regional heavyweight early in the knockout rounds.

That said, Bob and this team have overcome slow starts in tournaments before. Still, I wonder just how sustainable relying on the likes of Bedoya, Kljestan, and Wondolowski to ride to the rescue is. Surely the "A" team should be deeper?


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