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. Agent: Rafa Bentiez “would be truly happy” to manage Real Madrid

    May 22, 2015, 12:02 AM EDT

    Rafael Benitez, SSC Napoli Rafael Benitez, SSC Napoli

    Firing one of the world’s elite managers, so you can hire a good-but-not-great replacement? Not smart, Real Madrid, not smart at all.

  2. Scholes: If De Gea leaves, Manchester United should sign Petr Cech

    May 21, 2015, 10:57 PM EDT

    Petr Cech, Chelsea FC Petr Cech, Chelsea FC

    According to Scholes, the solution to Man United’s goalkeeping problem is a no-brainer.

  3. Emmanuel Adebayor given compassionate leave after revealing suicidal thoughts

    May 21, 2015, 9:47 PM EDT

    Emmanuel Adebayor, Tottenham Hotspur FC Emmanuel Adebayor, Tottenham Hotspur FC

    Well done to Tottenham Hotspur for showing the necessary compassion and taking care of one of their own.

  4. US Open Cup draw: Sounders-Timbers, NYCFC-NY Cosmos highlight possible 4th-round clashes

    May 21, 2015, 8:24 PM EDT

    US Open Cup trophy Getty Images

    The draw for the 4th round of the 2015 US Open Cup tossed up a couple of absolute doozies on Thursday night.

  5. Hodgson: England very happy to take Jack Grealish from Ireland, if he so chooses

    May 21, 2015, 7:23 PM EDT

    Jack Grealish, Aston Villa FC Jack Grealish, Aston Villa FC

    Jack Grealish has a big decision to make in the not-so-distant future, and it’s going to affect the course of the rest of his career.

  6. War of words: Henry, Giroud trading jabs over Thierry’s “dull” punditry comments

    May 21, 2015, 5:29 PM EDT

    Olivier Giroud, Arsenal FC Olivier Giroud, Arsenal FC

    Thierry Henry is riding Olivier Giroud very hard these days, claiming Arsenal will never win a PL title with him leading the line.

  7. Poland federation president calls for Russia to be stripped of 2018 World Cup

    May 21, 2015, 3:25 PM EDT

    ZbigniewBoniek Getty Images

    Qatar isn’t the only World Cup host to make others upset.

  8. Trio of corporate sponsors denounce FIFA for migrant worker conditions in Qatar

    May 21, 2015, 2:33 PM EDT

    FIFA World Cup trophy Getty Images

    Sponsors hold the one true key to change in Qatar, and strong words are a start.

  9. Final day looming in Spain, France to decide Champions League places

    May 21, 2015, 1:50 PM EDT

    Gignac Getty Images

    Many European leagues have spots in the big dance still up for grabs.

  10. Young Liverpool pair signs new contract extensions

    May 21, 2015, 1:10 PM EDT

    Ibe Getty Images

    Jordon Ibe and Jon Flanagan both will stick around Anfield for a while longer.

  11. Hours after Van Praag drops out of FIFA presidential race, Figo does the same

    May 21, 2015, 12:27 PM EDT

    LuisFigo Getty Images

    Only one candidate remains to battle Sepp Blatter, and it doesn’t look good.

  12. One candidate drops out as Blatter’s re-election looks more and more certain

    May 21, 2015, 11:30 AM EDT

    RAMALLAH, WEST BANK - MAY 20: FIFA President Sepp Blatter delivers a speech during an opening ceremony of a football stadium in Dura el Qar village, West Bank city of Ramallah, on May 20, 2015. (Photo by Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images) Getty Images

    The man who’s been investigated by the FBI and green lit loads of allegedly corrupt ideas will continue to rule your favorite sport.

  13. Xavi’s tearful goodbye: Legend confirms move to Al Saad, ending Barca run at 17 years

    May 21, 2015, 10:41 AM EDT

    150521-xavi-ARTICLE Getty Images

    The announcement is the final touch of a poorly-kept secret, and comes with the Copa del Rey and UEFA Champions League on the horizon.

  14. Vancouver joins Montreal in Canadian final; CONCACAF Champions League berth decided in August

    May 21, 2015, 9:57 AM EDT

    Matias Laba, Benoit Cheyrou AP

    The Impact will be looking for their third-straight Canadian Championship, having defeated TFC and Vancouver in recent campaigns.

  15. Agent: Sterling wouldn’t sign new Liverpool deal, even for $1.4 million a week

    May 21, 2015, 9:03 AM EDT

    (THE SUN OUT, THE SUN ON SUNDAY OUT)  of Liverpool during the Liverpool Player of the Year Awards on May 19, 2015 in Liverpool, England. Getty Images

    Ward said every club in the Premier League would bid for Sterling (who has already reportedly turned down an offer worth $235,000 a week).

  16. Leicester, QPR, Burnley players earn England call-ups for June matches

    May 21, 2015, 8:30 AM EDT

    Austin Getty Images

    Phil Jones and Chris Smalling make it a trio of Manchester United players on the roster, while Arsenal paces all Premier League squads with four call-ups.

  17. US Open Cup second round wrap: Several USL sides clipped by “minnows”

    May 21, 2015, 7:46 AM EDT

    http://www.rhinossoccer.com/ http://www.rhinossoccer.com/

    There’s a guarantee that a fourth-tier side or lower will see the fourth round, thanks to a pair of surprise wins.

  18. Mats Hummels rejects Manchester United move, will stay at Dortmund

    May 20, 2015, 11:10 PM EDT

    FBL-GER-BUNDESLIGA-WOLFSBURG-DORTMUND FBL-GER-BUNDESLIGA-WOLFSBURG-DORTMUND

    Borussia Dortmund’s sporting director has said the prized defender will stay in Germany next season.

  19. MLS Snapshot: Sporting Kansas City 4-2 New England Revolution

    May 20, 2015, 10:01 PM EDT

    Sporting Kansas City v Houston Dynamo Getty Images

    A brace from Krisztian Nemeth led Sporting KC to an impressive win over a Revolution side that will leave Kansas City disappointed.

  20. Newcastle fans staging sit-in protest at St. James’ Park following final match of season

    May 20, 2015, 9:03 PM EDT

    Leicester City v Newcastle United - Premier League Getty Images

    With the Magpies in danger of relegation, supporters want owner Mike Ashley to sell the club.

Featured video

Championship Sunday: 10 games, 10 channels