Watching the United States play in World Cup Qualifying should be a zen exercise because, really, only a zen master could stay calm the entire time. That means, by extension, that Bob Bradley is either a zen master or, perhaps, a high-functioning unemotional zombie. Who knows, really?
In tonight’s match, the United States continued a disheartening pattern in World Cup Qualifiers: it was scored upon first by an inferior team. That is not to say that El Salvador is bad; it’s just that the US and Mexico clearly have the most talent in CONCACAF. In any event, the US should be taking the game to its opponents rather than settling back.
I was truly impressed in August in Mexico City when the US attacked Mexico from the outset. The US looked good, using Donovan’s creativity and Charlie Davies’s speed to establish an early rhythm. It paid off with an early goal. The US did nothing like that today. Instead, they laid back, as if expecting the goals to come without effort. Perhaps they’re suffering from the same malaise as Mexico: they think they don’t need to work against lesser teams. That, of course, is just plain wrong.
That said, the US deserved their win. We can take three positives out of this game:
1. Jozy Altidore has the potential to be a beast. He needs practice, playing time, and patience.
2. Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan have a good connection. That needs to be exploited further in future matches.
3. Stuart Holden and José Francisco Torres looked really good as late-game substitutes. They brought a shot of energy and effort to the game, which was sorely needed.
On another note, the refereeing was typically terrible. FIFA really needs to step in and change the way CONCACAF referees operate. The second half was a disgrace.
QUICK KICKS: A quick CONMEBOL update in that Brazil thoroughly outclassed Argentina in Rosario by a score of 3-1. Hopefully, that match marks the end of Diego Maradona’s reign as Argentina’s manager, a job for which he was entirely unprepared.