1) I hope the US keep scheduling Wednesday night games because $2 draft night at McGrady’s is awesome. Jack and Ethan each had a Legend Brown Ale and I stuck with my preferred Bells Two Hearted Ale
2) The Final Heat wings hurt…badly…the next day…I’m not ashamed to admit that I drank a thing a ranch like a shot to alleviate the burn.
3) It’s a sad day when Snoop Dogg coming to town is a bigger deal than US-v-Mexico
Anyway, enough about my thoughts about the atmosphere, let’s get to the game itself. Another 2-0 win for the US on a field that looked to have been freshly tilled for gardening season. Both goals came in the second half, one from Stanford’s Jordan Morris (his first for US) and one from returning dynamo Juan Agudelo (his first since 2011 and his first of the Klinsmann era). So without further ado, here are my top 11 thoughts:
GK – Not a lot of talk about here. Rimando & Yarbrough split the shifts and neither had much to do. One thing to take away here it that William Yarbrough must be fully committed to the US seeing as how he didn’t throw the ball into his own net a tear off his jersey revealing a large tattoo of Miguel Herrera holding a Mexican flag in one arm and having the Mexican eagle perched on the other with the “Don’t Tread on Me” snake dangling from its mouth…too much?
RB – I’m going to skip DeAndre Yedlin, who was serviceable but not excellent, and turn my attention to Brad Evans. It is very apparent that Yedlin, Chandler, Cameron and Fabian Johnson are ahead of Evans on the depth chart and the 29-year-old midfielder right-back center-back may have played his last game for the US last night…or at least that what I thought until we saw that brilliant tackle in the closing minutes. Evans is a gamer, and even though he didn’t make the World Cup, and he’s being played out of position, and he’s older than everyone else on the list, he’s not going to let himself fade out.
CB – Omar Gonzalez had his best performance in a US jersey since the Mexico Hex game in Columbus in 2013. He has seemingly been an afterthought since before the World Cup, but this performance should boost his stock.
LB – Greg Garza or Brek Shea…flip a coin to pick the Gold Cup starter…I think Shea has been better over the last few games, but Klinsmann seems to rate Garza very highly.
DM – Kyle Beckerman has been the most important defensive player on the USMNT over the past two years. He has very quietly earned 25 starts under Jurgen Klinsmann and will continue to do so with steady, cautious, tempered performances. Seeing him go off with a thigh contusion was worrying because it throws into sharp relief the fact that we do not have a replacement for him. Finding and grooming his successor should be the top priority for the US moving forward.
LM – The left side of the diamond always seems a little…wonky…Jermaine Jones was there in the lead-up to the World Cup, so was Brad Davis, Alfredo Morales has played there, but none of them seem to be a full-time solution. You can now add Joe Corona’s name to that list. Corona was fine, but not ideal
RM – I still only see Mix as a substitute. He played well and his defensive work is improving, but I think he gets a little diluted over 90 minutes (or 81)
AM – Michael Bradley is a great #10...against CONCACAF. I don’t think he is capable of matching up against the best defensive mids in Europe but he showed last night that he is very good against our region, heck he even picked up another assist. That being said, that assist was the result of him dropping deep, picking up his head and hitting a 40 yard ball on the money. The other point I want to make here…call it AM supplemental…is that Lee Nguyen is only here to back-up Bradley. There’s no reason that he wouldn’t get a least a chance on either side of the diamond, unless he just isn’t capable of doing it…sorry bud
ST – The reason that Gyasi Zardes has looked as good as he has in the last few years is because he has great support: Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan in LA, Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore for the US. When he doesn’t have that veteran to put in the right places, he looks lost. Something to chew on, would Zardes have had a better game if Wondo had started beside him?
Coach – No Jermaine Jones. No Clint Dempsey. No Jozy Alitdore. No Tim Howard. I could keep going but you get it. Klinsmann made the right decisions tonight trusting the youth up-front (Morris/Zardes/Agudelo) rather than the proven (if inconsistent) Wondo. He also made good calls to keep blooding the new guys in each half (Garza/Ibarra/Yarbrough/Kitchen). Now we need to see how he handles the Jordan Morris situation. We have a closet full of guys who were going to be the next big thing: Freddy Adu is in Finland, Julian Green can’t get playing time for anyone, and Juan Agudelo is finally clawing his way back into contention. Morris needs to pay his dues at the Youth Level and make occasional appearances in friendly camps, but he should be expected to appear in the Gold Cup this year. Now back onto Coach…he’s undefeated against Mexico and that…that’s just awesome
Mexico – Didn’t show up. This was the worst performance by a Mexican squad against the US in a long time. I tweeted out in the first half that if Jozy and/or Deuce had been there we would’ve gone up a lot earlier. Perhaps the bad pitch resulted in El Tri having to result to different offensive tactics, but they looked flaccid all game.
Alright, that’s that. P4TP is going to be going through a bit of a rebrand soon, so keep an eye out for new updates. We’ll be back next week with some early Gold Cup predictions.