USA 1 – Guadaloupe 0

Losing was not an option for Team USA in front of a sold out crowd in Kansas City. Fortunately for USMNT fans with heart conditions, they didn’t wait until stoppage time to put this one away. Instead, it was a world class distance strike from Altidore in the 9th minute that was the lone goal, despite countless convincing opportunities for USA to run up the tally further.

You may not love all of Bob Bradley’s decisions, but there’s no denying he’s a thinking man who always does SOMETHING to remedy his team’s negative momentum. For this final group match of Gold Cup 2011 he made a few key decisions involving the starting 11, most of which proved to be acts of wisdom.

USA's starting XI vs. Guadeloupe: Dempsey had a free pass to roam and Donovan pinched in, creating a virtual 4-2-2-2

  1. Bocanegra moved into the centerback spot alonside Goodson. Although we love Ream as a future prospect, Bocanegra’s leadership and positioning was a major contrast to the general shakyness we’ve seen until this point. Let’s stick with this combo going into the quarterfinals.
  2. Bocanegra’s move left space for the speedy and attack-minded Lichaj to start at left fullback. With Donovan and Dempsey pinching in, we’ve been harping about the need for fullbacks to push up the flank. Lichaj showed moments of great chemistry with Donovan and was a consistent factor in the attacking third.
  3. Perhaps Bradley’s most surprising adjustment was giving Wondo the start over Agudelo. Little Juan has been inneffective by his own standards, and saving his swagger for possible play off the bench (or simply resting him) was probably a clever decision. Wondo did let a few clear chances pass, but none as dramatic as the “gimme” he missed vs. Panama.
  4. Dempsey got a Messi-like “free pass” to prowl the midfield like a predator. Although he started on the left, in the 6th minute he and Donovan swapped sides and from that point on he could be found just about everywhere.

Despite USA’s inability to run up a scoreline that would have better reflected our dominance, there were some positive signs that create optimism:

  • The effect of Lichaj pushing forward and his chemistry with the midfield.
  • Cherundolo getting forward and finally creating some good crosses.
  • Donovan getting involved. Where’s he been?
  • Bocanegra’s  leadership, Altidore’s confidence, Dempsey’s creativity.

Likewise, there are some concerns:

  • Dempsey has got to close. We need our old wily Texan to put the ball away like we know we can. He missed way to many chances, including some more atrocious than Wondo’s miss the other day.
  • Where’s Michael Bradley? One great perk of having a destroyer like Jones out there is that Bradley can be a cog of the offensive machine. We’ve seen flashes of that, but we’d like to see him playing higher.

All in all it was a solid, confident display missing only that classic ingredient of a championship team: finishing. If we want to get past Jamaica on Sunday it’s an ingredient we’ll need to get into the mix.

Gringos, what are your biggest concerns going into the quarterfinals?

One Comments Post a Comment
  1. robinoz0 says:

    aside from Altidore’s beautiful shot, USA’s finishing was absolutely atrocious. Dempsey alone had 4 or 5 chances that should have been goals. USA doesn’t get that many chances that often, especially against the top teams, so it was awfully disappointing to see so many missed chances

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