Wasn't a dream. Voice raspy, 3 points in the back pocket, big ass smile. #IBelieve
— Dan (@SoccerYankDan) June 17, 2014
My quick thoughts – in no particular order.
Revenge, sweeter than ever, because they weren’t the better side. An unworldly opening goal by Dempsey, and an 86th minute John Brooks rehearsed header were book ends to the Ghanaian onslaught that ravaged the US for most of the match. Classic grind it out match for the US against our World Cup nemesis.
For a team that has long touted that they will be the most physically fit team at the World Cup, it sure did look as if they were running on fumes. Have they over-trained? Altidore and Besler the obvious issues, but many others were hobbling, clutching, and tugging on their cramping muscles. How much of this was weather related? It will only get worse in Manaus on Sunday against Portugal.
Leave the man alone. Ghana went at him. He suffered, was shook off the ball, but he never stopped running. My bigger concern is why he wasn’t given some help on that side, often left to fend for himself with 2 or more runners. Jones is getting a lot of praise for being all over the pitch, but I think it would have suited the team better if he sat back and helped deflect some of that pressure on DMB.
DEFENSE AS A UNIT
Cameron was the US’ most important player against Ghana. Goal scoring aside, he was the crown jewel of our defense, a big ol’ run of the mill ROCK. But it was combining with the other defenders (Johnson, Besler, Brooks, Beasley) and a firm and unflinching Beckerman placed ahead of them that the USMNT held Ghana to only 1 goal.
Maybe the goal was an error. The build up from a beautiful Gyan backheel maybe dazzled even Howard, but one error out of the 8 shots on goal, in a match dominated by Ghana, I can live with.
I’ve heard this morning his positioning was of utmost importance in shifting the Ghanaian attack to the wings, as he didn’t allow for much play through the middle. Well that’s handy, our creator is doing what should have been tasked to Beckerman and Jones. On the attacking side of ball (if we even had much of an attack) Bradley was not the field general we have seen grow with this team over the last several years. If his movement was telling of his mood then it was yelling at us his disinterest in this match. He lacked sharpness all around, but mostly in his passing. If on the counter attacks he released our runners, all could have been overlooked. But often his passes were way ahead or way behind. Not to place Bradley on a pedestal aside Messi, but maybe he needs 20,000 US fans booing him to shake him awake.
Rust is officially gone. The heavily criticised Dempsey scored a crucially important opening goal. His involvement died down a bit with the ball spending a majority of the time in the American half. He took a high shin to the face, leaving him with a bloodied face and nose full of gauze. Looks like it is a fracture, no word on what color facemask he’ll be wearing.
Crushed for him. Training staff – “why you no take care of Jozy?” Time for Aron Johannsson and Chris Wondolowski to prove why they are there.
Played his role as wrecking ball perfectly, earning no cards, whilst rampaging about the pitch. I would have hoped he would have been less rampaging however. (See Beasley above).
Aron Johannsson, John Brooks, and Graham Zusi for Jozy Altidore, Matt Besler, and Alejandro Bedoya. AJ had little service up top, hard to judge. Brooks scored the crushing blow to Ghana with what was a well-drilled and rehearsed header from a perfect Graham Zusi corner. Would Zusi have been a difference maker having had started? Hard to say, Bedoya put in a hard-nosed shift.
I imagine the game plan was to launch deadly counterattacks, but when our “deadly” counterattacks began to fizzle out in midfield the US wasn’t prepared to change gears or plans. Although the victory will go down as a brave display, I am not sure it will be the kind of performance that will hold up against Portugal or Germany.
Has no place in punditry. Looked like someone was trying to play ventriloquist with him. And no, I do not think he would have made a difference.
My quick thoughts above were mostly criticism of the team, but have no doubt I am extremely happy with the boys finding a way to win. Winning defensively, is brave and heroic, but it isn’t the only way to play, and most definitely shouldn’t be the long-term plan. I believe in this team, but my belief isn’t enough, they have to do better. Up next is a wounded Portugal, but don’t expect them to roll over and play dead. Let’s take it to them!
Until next time,