Skip to content

Five points to ponder from U.S.-Antigua & Barbuda

Jun 8, 2012, 10:53 PM EDT

German soccer star J Klinsmann is i

TAMPA, Fla. – The basic theme from U.S. players and manager Jurgen Klinsmann after Friday’s soggy 3-1 win to open World Cup qualifying: It was far from perfect and needs to get better, but “mission accomplished” just the same.

“We know we have to step it up a lot going into Guatemala, which we’ll do,” Klinsmann said.

All that does sound reasonable enough. Qualifying for a World Cup is a long slog, more marathon than one-game sprint.

Here’s what else I’ll take away from the win over tiny Antigua and Barbuda.

Let’s salute Carlos Bocanegra

Who cares if Carlos Bocanegra, at age 33, it already on the downslope of his pro career? He is so valuable to this team.

Not only is Bocanegra the unquestionable anchor that holds down the U.S. back line (along with co-anchor Steve Cherundolo, I suppose). It was Bocanegra who sneaked around to the back post to get that important, pressure-venting early goal – which the captain himself said just 24 hours earlier would be so critical.

By the way, that was No. 13 for  him in a U.S. shirt, and that ties him with Marcelo Balboa for most career goals among American defenders.

Oh, and he can still play left back in an emergency, too. Clearly.

Landon Donovan remains a valuable contributor – but in spurts

Donovan’s signature bursts of “caffeinated Donovan” helped create two goals: the first half penalty kick and Herculez Gomez’s second half goal of persistence. (Gomez had three bites off the apple of opportunity, staying with the play long enough to get the ultimate reward.)

Still, it’s OK to ask why Donovan can’t be a little more assertive a little more often. That is, in matches like this one. Why can’t the uber-Donovan make a few more appearances? With the L.A. Galaxy man, it’s always about motivation and mindset. I guess he had just enough of it Friday.

How many more chances will Oguchi Onyewu get?

At this point, what’s the point? Seriously. He was in for about 10 minutes when he made complete Raymond James hash of a play that reasonably could be expected to be contained. Peter Byers exposed Onyewu’s failing foot speed and his decision making, stepping around the center back to break in alone on Tim Howard and make the margin just one goal in the second half – not a comfortable place for the Americans.

Klinsmann is always positive, always a glass-half-full kind of guy. But surely that has its limits.

Klinsmann says he knows Onyewu is still “catching up,” after a long series of injuries. “We are not expecting everyone to play perfect games. If there is a mistake, it happens.”

Well, sure. But what if these happenings keep happening?

The sharpness must improve in the final third

Klinsmann said at halftime what everyone in U.S. fan nation (and everyone along press row) was saying throughout the first 45: They need to get their shooting shoes on and aim a couple more efforts toward goal. Klinsmann talked to Dempsey about it during the break; the striker pointed out they were trying to shoot more, but that two or three Antiguan bodies habitually in the way was problematic.

“We created enough chances, but then you’ve got to be clinical enough to put them away,” Klinsmann said.

Looking ahead to Tuesday’s Guatemala test

Tuesday’s match will look nothing like this one … well, unless it’s played in a monsoon. Then it might bear a certain resemblance. But not otherwise.

Antigua was committed defensively, and semi-well organized, at least. Mostly, they just got a lot of numbers back, often in a five-man back line look. Guatemala on Tuesday? As Clint Dempsey said afterward: “I doubt they’ll sit back at home.

We have more on this match:

Here, on Terrrence Boyd

Here, on Jose Torres

Here, on Man of the Match Landon Donovan

Here, on Donovan and Clint Dempsey

And here, on Jozy Altidore’s slippage on the depth chart

Latest Posts
  1. FIFA votes to eliminate third-party ownership

    Sep 29, 2014, 11:44 PM EDT

    Blatter AP

    Sepp Blatter confirmed FIFA voted strongly to eliminate third-party ownership in all professional settings, with a transitional period of a few years to be instituted immediately.

  2. WATCH: Men In Blazers recap derby weekend, visit with Brandon McCarthy

    Sep 29, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT

    Men in Blazers Brandon McCarthy

    The Men discussed all things Premier League on this week’s episode, including Phil Jagielka, Wayne Rooney, and a Peter Crouch chicken dance.

  3. Miguel Herrera pumps up Mexico’s crop of youngsters

    Sep 29, 2014, 9:36 PM EDT

    Herrera AP

    With plenty of tournament success, the Mexican youth is turning the head of the senior team’s manager.

  4. Alan Pardew expects to have “serious conversations” with Mike Ashley

    Sep 29, 2014, 8:47 PM EDT

    Pardew Getty Images

    Things surrounding Newcastle’s managerial position have become increasingly untenable.

  5. Report: PSG’s under-fire Blanc could face axe without win vs Barcelona

    Sep 29, 2014, 8:01 PM EDT

    Blanc Getty Images

    If PSG fail to make serious noise against top Champions League clubs, Laurent Blanc could be on his way out of Paris.

  6. MLS salaries released, showing Kaka nets MLS-record $7.1 million

    Sep 29, 2014, 7:12 PM EDT

    Kaka Getty Images

    Making $400,000 more than anyone else in the league, Kaka is set to lead Orlando City into MLS with a colossal paycheck.

  7. Cardiff City owner Vincent Tan says he hopes to invest in MLS

    Sep 29, 2014, 6:33 PM EDT

    Tan Getty Images

    With MLS movement at a high, the controversial Malaysian expressed his wishes to enter the US realm

  8. Olivier Giroud signs new Arsenal deal through 2018

    Sep 29, 2014, 5:51 PM EDT

    Giroud Getty Images

    He’s out with a broken tibia, but Giroud still remains vital to Arsenal’s long-term success.

  9. Report: Chivas USA to suspend operations for at least 2 years

    Sep 29, 2014, 5:10 PM EDT

    Chivas logo

    According to an ESPN report, Chivas will take at least a 2-year break to allow for a rebrand to occur and a new stadium to be built.

  10. Stoke City 1-0 Newcastle: Crouch’s header sinks Newcastle, Pardew deeper (video)

    Sep 29, 2014, 4:54 PM EDT

    Crouch Getty Images

    Peter Crouch’s early header put Stoke up early as Alan Pardew’s job security took another hit.

  11. Adnan Januzaj scores unbelievable free kick for Manchester United U-21’s

    Sep 29, 2014, 4:26 PM EDT

    Januzaj Getty Images

    He hasn’t managed to pick out a start for the Red Devils’ senior side, but getting minutes for the U-21’s, he showed off his bright talents.

  12. Christian Benteke set to make Villa return after nearly six-month absence

    Sep 29, 2014, 3:51 PM EDT

    Benteke Getty Images

    After playing over an hour for the U-21 team this weekend, Paul Lambert will have Benteke available for selection against Manchester City.

  13. Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey out injured for a month

    Sep 29, 2014, 2:54 PM EDT

    Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Getty Images

    Gunners lose star midfielder for a month after hamstring injury.

  14. Watch Live: Stoke City vs. Newcastle United (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Sep 29, 2014, 2:15 PM EDT

    Britain Soccer League Cup AP

    All eyes on Pardew. Watch Stoke host Newcastle, right here.

  15. Premier League preview: Stoke City vs. Newcastle

    Sep 29, 2014, 12:59 PM EDT

    Will Stoke be able to extract revenge after their 5-1 loss to Newcastle on Boxing Day? Getty Images

    Watch Stoke vs. Newcastle live on Monday at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

  16. Manchester United to play overseas friendlies during the regular season?

    Sep 29, 2014, 12:13 PM EDT

    Alexander Buttner, Gareth Bale AP

    Will United head back to the USA, the Middle East or elsewhere if they schedule friendlies during the current season?

  17. Premier League Playback: Can Chelsea stay unbeaten throughout 2014-15?

    Sep 29, 2014, 11:41 AM EDT

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    PST’s Lead Writer and Editor takes an in-depth look at the PL during Week 6.

  18. Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney apologizes for red card

    Sep 29, 2014, 10:31 AM EDT

    _77863481_rooney_red_getty Getty Images

    Rooney: “I saw the West Ham player making a counter-attack and I tried to break-up the play but I just misjudged it. I apologized to the lads.”

  19. Hertha Berlin giving up on US defender John Brooks?

    Sep 29, 2014, 9:58 AM EDT

    Germany Bundesliga Soccer AP

    After up and down start to the season, Brooks has been sent to the reserves.

Featured video

Week 6: Premier League recap