Gold Cup Disaster in Tampa

I decided there was no reason to write about America’s 2-0 opening Group Play Gold Cup victory over Canada because, well, it was Canada. No disrespect to our neighbors to the North, but Canada is not exactly the benchmark the U.S. should hold its soccer program up to in order to measure progress and ability.

I could say the same thing about Panama, but last night’s humiliating 2-1 defeat showed that the U.S. continues to have so many holes and cracks to fill that our time may never come. Seriously. How many times can we write about piss-poor starts in the first half?

It is a recurring story. The defense cannot close holes and shut down gaps. Lord knows Tim Ream’s inexperience and a total lack of awareness (I was going to say judgment, but that would be too harsh) cost us a penalty. With the exception of the always attacking Dempsey, the midfield is not able to contain, control possession, and readily counter. Finishing? Nope; we can’t do that either have ever suffered from not having a world class striker.

Losing 2-1 was bad enough, but it was the way we lost. In the first half we looked like we were dazed and confused. The second half was much better; we had plenty of chances, but could only manage to put the ball in the net on a single set play. How much of the U.S.’s second half effort and ability to look like they were constantly on the attack can be attributed to Panama going up 2-0 in the first half? In other words, when the U.S. finally did start to look impressive, how much of that was because Panama dictated the game?

Unfortunately the Panama game thought us that the U.S. nowhere near ‘breaking’ through and pushing forward as a soccer nation.

The obvious lesson to be learned from this game is that the U.S. needs to start matches better, but it’s a lesson that was also obvious at last year’s World Cup. Indeed, it’s something the Americans have been guilty of countless times in Bob Bradley’s tenure. It calls into question just how effective he and the senior players are in getting the team prepared to play.

Every time I watch this team I hope to see improvement on the pitch, especially on defense and closing ability; it is just not there. You have to ask, why is this the case, and when will it come? You can look for singular examples, and point to some recent remarkable (call it lucky) tournament play. Some will argue that you make your own luck, and I actually agree with that point of view.

For the U.S., tournament-to-tournament improvement is just not showing on the pitch, which can easily be expressed in the last 25 minutes last night; too little, too late.

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6 thoughts on “Gold Cup Disaster in Tampa”

  1. Bradley’s squad selection is a mystery, too. Freddy Adu? Really? Where is Chad Marshall? He is the best CB in MLS, and ready to compete on a continental level. Lastly, Bobby Convey needs to be in the mix. We need to be better at RB, too.

    Kevin

  2. What a mess. Kind of sums it up by putting Adu on the squad and then making him inactive. I read somewhere that Adu is playing in the Turkish second division (had no idea there was such a thing); Bradley thought it was time to give him ‘one last look’ or some such to see if he has reached his potential.

  3. Ha! You haven’t played enough Football Manager or you’d know about the Turkish 2nd division! :-)

  4. True – Have not played FM in a few years. Only PC gaming I am doing right now is OOTPB.

    BTW, probably not going to write about the Guadeloupe game. May just take up a prediction leading into the Jamaica match-up on Sunday later in the week.

  5. Too many missed chances. Disappointed in Dempsey – he got lazy on that sitter! They’ll struggle, but hopefully advance.

    Honestly, part of me wouldn’t mind seeing them lose, if that means a new boss for the nats…

    Kevin

  6. I know what you mean, but I would rather see the U.S. win and still make a change in direction. Of course if they win, the top brass will decide a change is not need, which increasingly looks like a poor decision.

    I have been a Bradley support (at least I think I have), but at some point you have to take a hard look and attribute the play style to the coach. Coming out flat, always playing from behind, playing down to the competition, heroic efforts just to tie, etc. Admirable character, but it is painfully obvious that this team needs an infusion of character.

    The U.S. knew they were in win or draw. Bradley should have played 1 down after Dempsey’s lackadaisical effort. It would have been a way to hold even the best players accountable. Unprecedented, maybe, but I bet it would have sent a message to the team.

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