U.S. Beats A&B: Twelve Quick Takes
We asked a dozen writers to offer up their reactions to the American victory over Antigua & Barbuda on Friday. The verdict: The points are nice, but oy vey: "At least there was pluck."
BY Various PostedGraham Ruthven Freelance soccer writer It wasn’t pretty, in fact it was downright ugly, but I suppose Jurgen Klinsmann can fall back on the argument that the side he picked achieved the objective: winning the game. However, many of Klinsmann’s decisions and selections still need to be addressed. Away from JozyGate, his choice to start Eddie Johnson out wide on a field narrow enough to be a bowling alley was bizarre. Of course, Johnson’s double undermines that point somewhat, but the U.S. lacked an attacking focal point, illustrated by the astonishing statistic that Klinsmann’s side only managed one shot on goal during the run of play in the entire game. Phil Schoen Announcer, beIN Sport Jurgen Klinsmann can't win for winning. Was the 2-1 victory in Antigua convincing? No, but it was another step toward getting to Brazil in 2014 without having to buy a ticket. I had doubts after the disaster at Bayern, but it was time for a change. I still believe he was worth the gamble. It was obvious to all but the most blinded that Jozy Altidore needed a reality check. Both Eddie Johnson and Alan Gordon rewarded his faith on Friday. Klinsmann knows he needs Altidore in the long run, but to get there, nothing short of advancing will do. George Quraishi Editor, Howler Magazine A grueling win for players and fans. Eddie Johnson deserved his selection, but he's dangerous in front of goal, not on the flank. (Of course it didn't matter as much on such a narrow field.) Clint Dempsey was reportedly on the field, but I only noticed him when he was throwing up his arms at teammates. Let's hope for better leadership from one of our best and most experienced players. Can we agree that Jermaine Jones as a defensive midfielder is actually a defensive liability? Is there a limit to Alan Gordon's late-game luck? I hope the Americans don't need it against Guatemala. Jason Davis Co-host, Best Soccer Show There was very little to like about the Americans' performance in Antigua other than the scoreline. At no point did the U.S. exert their clear advantage in talent. Was that a preparation issue? A basic defensive breakdown, with one of the team's most experienced defenders at fault, is glaring in light of an offense that struggled to create chances. The Eddie Johnson redemption tale is nice, and Alan Gordon's call-up paid off, but Klinsmann's ability to steer the ship to Brazil can't help but be questioned. Three points make for a cooling salve, however. At least there was pluck. Ryan O'Hanlon Contributing Editor, AmericanSoccerNow.com Yes, it was a team comprised of mostly amateurs from a third-flight North American soccer squad. Yes, some of their players may or may not have been wearing women’s underwear. (Which, what?) Yes, Mexico would’ve won by five. Yes, Klinsmann is frighteningly not in control. And yes, the U.S. was minutes away from facing a must-win on Tuesday in Kansas City. But it also could’ve been 5-1 if chances were finished. And it was the biggest game in Antigua & Barbuda’s soccer life. And it was played on what was a borderline U-11, 8v8 field/swamp. Don’t the best European club teams always win games just like this? Danielle Llanes Author and Women United FC member “It’s not pretty, but we’ll take it.” I feel like that phrase is one that we continue to say after every game. Of course, up until then, we had already heard the rumblings of player injuries, illnesses, etc. Some wondered if we should panic while others believed that Jurgen and the USMNT would pull something great from their back pockets. Unfortunately, what we saw was a muddy field and players that seemed to go in half loaded. Did Altidore steal all their spirit when he wasn’t called up? This game was missing the energy and excitement I’ve grown to love. Noah Davis Deputy Editor, AmericanSoccerNow.com The United States went down to Antigua & Barbuda needing three points. They left the tiny Caribbean island with those three points. Nothing— Klinsmann's curious decisions, the quality of the play, the propensity to stop playing after they score—matters unless the team qualifies for the World Cup. There is that goal, and then there is everything else. Friday night was ugly. Really, really ugly. But it's over, and the Americans got the result. Barely, unattractively, but undeniably. Full Stop. (That said, man, Tuesday better look better.) Dan Wiersema Founder, Free Beer Movement Party like it’s 2008! Eddie Johnson and Alan Gordon made Jurgen Klinsmann look like a genius. Too bad everything else made him look like a fool. CONCACAF is much improved, but keeping Antigua in the game for that long was embarrassing. Tropical storm or not, the U.S. will play loads more of these types of matches and must find a way to create more chances from this new-found possession game that’s evolving under Klinsmann. Carlos Bocanegra at left back is a liability against fast squads, and Dempsey needs to find some fire. Michael Bradley was a welcome return to the center of the park and brought a lot of maturity to the midfield. Eric Beard Founder, A Football Report It was enough to make anyone laugh at the notion of American exceptionalism. The Americans were outplayed by a team representing 90,000 people. The pitch was bumpy. Herculez Gomez's touch was horrendous. But amongst all the negativity I'm just too delighted for Eddie Johnson. I spoke with Eddie when he last represented the Stars & Stripes, the day before he was cut from the 2010 World Cup roster. He said he could only put everything "in the hands of the Lord." Right now, all USMNT fans should be patting their hands on EJ's back. Brian Blickenstaff Freelance writer Another trip to the Caribbean, another unconvincing performance. We’ve heard all the excuses now: the grass was too short, it rained hard, the fans were mean. I don’t care if the U.S. plays Antigua and Barbuda on the moon, the Americans shouldn’t squeak by on last-minute goals. The U.S. should be up by three at the half. The team has some tactical issues that need sorting (e.g. get Dempsey on the ball). Let’s hope Klinsmann figures it out soon. A performance like Friday’s—and I can’t believe I’m writing this—won’t be good enough against the likes of Guatemala. Luke Lohr Founder, MLSReserves.com A win is a win, albeit ugly. Field conditions are only so much of the story as the United States should never have struggled against such a, seemingly inferior, side. Eddie Johnson did return to the scene in dramatic fashion. National team fans were split on the inclusion of Johnson and Alan Gordon, though Klinsmann maintained the decision was tactical. That Alan Gordon provided the assist on the game winner is all the more astounding. Klinsmann's decision to include the two over Wondolowski paid dividends, but the bigger issue is the lack of on-field cohesion by the midfield. Dan Levy National Lead Writer, Bleacher Report We were minutes away from a panic-inducing draw, but as sloppy as it was, the USMNT got three important points, in the pouring rain, on the road, on a field that looked worse than what most American high schools use. There is no such thing as a bad win, and the victory came with a lot of important information. The back line is glaringly thin—Eric Lichaj needs a new agent, and headlines like this won't help him. Timmy Chandler needs to make a decision already. The midfield needs more time together. The offense? Hey, Eddie Johnson is back! We want to hear your take too. Post your thoughts on the game—in 100 words or less—below.
October 15, 2012
October 15, 2012