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Highlights: Looking at the U.S.’s goals in Antigua

Oct 13, 2012, 2:02 AM EST

We’ve had our say on Eddie Johnson (in multiple places), but as we get to Friday night’s highlights, let’s be sure recognize the men who provided the assists.

For the second match in a row, Graham Zusi impressed. While Friday’s performance may not have been as eye-opening as last month’s effort in Columbus, the Sporting Kansas City attacker was one on the States’ best players over the first half hour, a period highlighted by this cross for the first goal.

Later in the half, Zusi nearly added a second assist, running onto a restart from Michael Bradley before quickly turning on a cross for Johnson, the Man of the Match heading a potential go-ahead goal just wide.

Zusi’s performance was enough to ask: Is Zheusi starting to close the gap between him and Landon Donovan? Perhaps, but for large stretches of Friday’s match (that lull between goals), the U.S. was desperate for somebody to break open the game as only Donovan can. Even if Zusi does a good job most of the time, it’s those few extraordinary minutes per match that make Donovan special.

One of Donovan’s long-time teammates played a crucial part on the game-winner. Alan Gordon, the most criticized of Klinsmann’s selections, came off the bench to provide the assist:

How many players can say they recorded an assist in their first appearance for the national team? Let alone an assist on a game-winning goal on the road in World Cup qualifying?

Take a look at how fast the play develops. Throw in, two touches, and the ball’s into the six-yard box. Johnson pulls away from his mark, with Gordon’s cross leaving little chance for the defenders or goalkeeper to adjust. You don’t see many U.S. goals like that, but if Jurgen Klinsmann has his way, we’ll see a lot more of those type of quick, aggressive decisions from the States’ attackers.

  1. soccerjohn - Oct 13, 2012 at 8:37 AM

    I didn’t get to see the game (followed on various feeds), but I have to say I think it’s ridiculous to ask whether Zusi has overtaken Donovan. When healthy, Donovan offers a package that no other American player offers–or has ever offered. LD combines speed, sweet vision and passing accuracy, touch, understanding of positioning, experience, motor, and the ability to deliver under pressure. He also offers some of the best dribbling ability of any MNT player. His ability to break down players one on one, combined with his deft small-space passing touch were sorely, were sorely missed last night.

    Zusi looks like he might be someone who can contribute, a potential addition to the MNT’s answers on the wing. But, are you really suggesting you’d even consider Zusi over Donovan for the starting XI?

    • dfstell - Oct 13, 2012 at 9:06 AM

      I don’t know if I’d consider him for starting over Donovan right now, but its nice to know precisely who to plug in when Donovan is hurt and getting old. Or just to push on him and make sure we get everything Donovan can give knowing he’ll lose his spot to Zusi if he slides off a little. It’s just nice to have multiple options at that position.

    • dreadpirate82 - Oct 13, 2012 at 9:43 AM

      Hold on a second. He’s not saying Zusi has overtaken him. He’s just asking if he is closing the gap on Donovan, and I don’t think there’s any question that he has. His development is big for USMNT, as they really needed someone else to come in and provide a bit of creative spark. That has all been left to Donovan, Dempsey, and Bradley the last 3-4 years. Shea will hopefully continue his development as well.

      But as you say, soccerjohn, it looks like Zusi can contribute and be a legitimate option to fill in when needed for this team. It’s an awfully nice development.

      I would also like to apologize to Alan Gordon for my doubts. Helluva pass.

    • soccerjohn - Oct 13, 2012 at 10:38 AM

      dfstell and dreadpirate82, I absolutely agree that it’s sweet to see Zusi contributing like he has. As with Shea before his regression, or even pre-accident Charlie Davies and the first iteration of Eddie Johnson, it sure is nice to find guys who can influence a game. Having tough choices at each position would be a big step for the MNT towards competing at higher levels.

      I guess you’re right, dreadpirate82. The question Farley posed is really just about closing the gap. I figured that went without saying, given that Zusi recently went from a national unkown to acknowledged contributor. I read more into it. (Heck, if I practiced a bit this week, I’d start closing the gap too!) But didja really have to take the steam out of such a satisfying rant?! :)

      • dreadpirate82 - Oct 14, 2012 at 1:00 AM

        Get with the program, soccerjohn! This is the Internet, where we are supposed to call each other names and make snarky comments about each other. I don’t understand this PST site with all of this “reasonable conversation”. From now on, let’s try and make this like every other soccer site and act like a bunch of a-holes.

  2. dreadpirate82 - Oct 13, 2012 at 9:44 AM

    Hold on a second. He’s not saying Zusi has overtaken him. He’s just asking if he is closing the gap on Donovan, and I don’t think there’s any question that he has. His development is big for USMNT, as they really needed someone else to come in and provide a bit of creative spark. That has all been left to Donovan, Dempsey, and Bradley the last 3-4 years. Shea will hopefully continue his development as well.

    But as you say, soccerjohn, it looks like Zusi can contribute and be a legitimate option to fill in when needed for this team. It’s an awfully nice turnof events for a team thatxhas been a little thin in terms of depth.

    I would also like to apologize to Alan Gordon for my doubts. Helluva pass.

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