Sep 7, 2013, 1:58 AM EDT
The United States were outpaced, out-passed, out-coached, and ultimately out-played en route to a 3-1 loss to Costa Rica Friday night.
And while it’s only one loss on the road in CONCACAF play – which certainly puts this sole match into perspective – there are still many things that Jurgen Klinsmann can take from this.
First off, it was reaffirmed that Michael Bradley is without a doubt the most important player in the United States squad. I tackled that in another post, so what else did we come away with from this loss?
1) US defenders need to return to the basics
Very fundamental mistakes proved to be the undoing of the USMNT defenders at Estadio Nacional. On the first and second goals, marking in the air was a struggle for Gonzalez and Besler. Not only was jumping an issue, but tracking back with the ball in the air was a serious problem as well – especially on the second goal.
DaMarcus Beasley found himself out of position quite often. It’s not just his fault, as Beasley was often forced to cover for Fabian Johnson, who ran wildly around the pitch in all sorts of positions. However, Beasley also needs to do his part on the edge, where Costa Rica repeatedly targeted as points of weakness. The two of them need to figure out where their best and most comfortable position is, and soon. Overall, the organization from the back four wasn’t there.
The final goal was the biggest mistake, however. Many will crucify Tim Howard for not coming out of goal to collect, but that aside, both Gonzalez and Besler were caught way too high up. Sure the scoreline had something to do with that, but for a Costa Rican clear to find the feet of an attacker and nobody behind him is unacceptable.
2) The depth, while improved, still isn’t stellar
It’s almost impossible for any team to replace their star anchorman when injured, but the missing pieces were never replaced adequately. Imagine if – knock on wood – Jozy were to get injured long-term? There’s no replacement up front other than moving Dempsey to striker, where he more often than not gets lost. Geoff Cameron wasn’t able to come close to filling Bradley’s shoes, and now the US will even be without the Stoke man for Tuesday.
With Besler also suspended, it appears the most likely replacement will be a call up for Clarence Goodson. The names emerging as tactical substitutions are decent, but when absences are compounded, the squad still looks dangerously patchwork. It’s a lot better than it used to be, but still has a ways to go to be able to cope with losses of this magnitude.
3) It’s not all so bad
On the surface, most people will remember what stood out – the two goals inside 10 minutes for Costa Rica to begin the match, when they battered and bruised the US into submission, and the visitors were never able to recover. That may have been the case, but the United States had plenty of bright spots, and if it weren’t for the outstanding goalkeeping of Keylor Navas, this match could have been wildly different. He saved a bullet volley by Fabian Johnson in the first half which was headed for top corner, and had help from the post on Dempsey’s line drive towards the end.
Given all of the hardships the US were supposed to overcome – Bradley’s absence, Jozy’s fitness, the Orozco right-back experiment (which went poorly), Donovan’s lack of playing time with the first team – it wasn’t a terrible result. Sure, the first 20 minutes were a train wreck, but once they settled in to match Costa Rica’s blistering start, the build-up was there…sort of.
Right then, it’s on to Colombus. The loss is but one match on the road in a very hostile environment, and with it over the shoulder and in the past, a date with a struggling El Tri looms. It will be a test for both sides…
Mar 11, 2014, 4:55 AM EDT
Milan’s failed to turn its season around, with Atlético has stabilized after a February swoon.
Mar 11, 2014, 3:47 AM EDT
Bayern’s lost twice in the last 12 months – once to Arsenal. The holders will look to avoid a repeat of last year’s visit.
Mar 10, 2014, 10:32 PM EDT
There’s also a freshness under Mastroeni, who oozes the respectability that comes from a distinguished career.
Mar 10, 2014, 9:54 PM EDT
The Black Cats have played three less matches than the Bluebirds and two less than the Baggies. A win over Palace would land them even with the Eagles.
Mar 10, 2014, 9:21 PM EDT
“What I said to the players is ‘get it out of your head. Go home, reflect a little bit and I will do my best to come up with something better.’”
Mar 10, 2014, 8:44 PM EDT
It wasn’t a pretty night to be in Turkey, as violent fans at Trabzonspor forced the abandonment of a match with rivals Fenerbahce on Monday night.
Mar 10, 2014, 8:03 PM EDT
What to do with the goal-scoring 34-year-old Scot who’s out of contract in June?
Mar 10, 2014, 7:25 PM EDT
“Kevin made a huge contribution to our qualification for the World Cup, he never let us down and now his dreams have died,” said Holland manager Louis van Gaal.
Mar 10, 2014, 6:42 PM EDT
Like Manuel Pellegrini and his distaste for a certain Swedish official, Wenger is also critical of UEFA slotting in a referee from a non-footballing power.
Mar 10, 2014, 5:58 PM EDT
MLS has become a decent destination for goalkeepers, with top internationals for Peru, Brazil and Panama plying their trades in the United States this season.
Mar 10, 2014, 5:25 PM EDT
Djalo, 27, hasn’t found his footing in Lisbon, playing in just three matches since then and spending parts of 2012 and 2013 on loan at Toulouse in Ligue 1, where he appeared 17 times.
Mar 10, 2014, 4:45 PM EDT
Arsenal has been handed a boost for their massive Tuesday task of reversing Bayern Munich’s 2-0 advantage in the UEFA Champions League’s Round of 16.
Mar 10, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT
“It’s like playing 1 1/2, 1 3/4 games in terms of damage to your body,” said Ryan Nelsen.
Mar 10, 2014, 3:25 PM EDT
That is not a lousy public high-five for a player, now, is it?
Mar 10, 2014, 2:53 PM EDT
Timbers skipper staying put, as owner Paulson takes to Twitter to rejoice:
Mar 10, 2014, 2:46 PM EDT
Five teams dominate selections, find out if your favorites were rewarded:
Mar 10, 2014, 2:32 PM EDT
Barcelona have lost two of their last three La Liga matches, can City inflict more UCL heartache on the Catalan club?
Mar 10, 2014, 1:55 PM EDT
Reds are in the red… but Champions League soccer could solve that and increase the club’s financial footing:
Mar 10, 2014, 1:05 PM EDT
After Shea apparently ‘flipped the bird’ Barnsley end his loan deal from Stoke early:
Mar 10, 2014, 12:55 PM EDT
USWNT lost two straight games, winless in three for the first time in 13 years:
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