The U.S. men’s soccer team played twice this week on home soil, against Poland on Saturday in Chicago and against Colombia on Tuesday in Philadelphia.
Both friendlies ended in draws: 2-2 vs. Poland and 0-0 vs. Colombia.
The Poland match was the more exciting of the two, although it was frustrating to see the States give up the lead twice. I know playing while ahead is a new thing for this team (after they held the lead for about two minutes at the World Cup), but once you get up in a soccer game, especially at this level, you really need to be able to lock it down and come out with three points. That’s what separates the Spains and Brazils of the world from the rest of us.
Bob Bradley tried out some different things this week, namely putting new players on the field and trying out different formations.
After suiting up in three exhibitions for Germany, Jermaine Jones took advantage of a FIFA rule change and transferred to the American National Team. Brek Shea and Eric Lichaj (pronunciation sounds kind of like Lee-high; i.e. Av’s goalie Peter Budaj) both earned their first career caps with the national team. Born on 2/28/90, Shea becomes the first American born in the 90’s to suit up for the national team.
As for formations, we learned that Bradley never needs to try the 4-3-3 again. He started with it against Colombia and it was a flop–and it mushed into a 4-4.5-1.5 by the end of the game anyway.
The U.S. used a five midfielder set in the first game against Poland, and had more success with that (U.S. Soccer’s Twitter listed it as a 4-2-3-1). Playing with more midfielders seems to be advantageous for the U.S.; they have success when they play through the middle and let the central midfield players distribute the ball from there (plus, we just have a wealth of midfielders). Playing the 4-3-3 seemed to seriously limit options for the U.S. and led to several breakdowns that nearly resulted in goals.
Starting lineups (no Donovan in either match):
Up, down & even: The stock on three American players
UP- Jermaine Jones
Wasn’t perfect in the games, but can definitely help the American side. Provided a spark for the offense which is lost without Donovan and Dempsey. Jones’ father is African-American and his mother is German, and Jones holds dual citizenship with both nations. He doesn’t speak a word of English, but he plays a nice brand of football.
Honorable mentions- Stuart Holden and Brad Guzan
Didn’t do much against Poland before being removed in the 63rd minute. Played slightly better against Colombia, but we need more. I like the guy, but he had a rough week.
(Dis)honorable mentions-Eddie Johnson, Jozy Altidore, the defense
Even- Michael Bradley
Even is a good word to describe his play. Did some good things, did some bad things. Would have liked to see Bradley build on his performance at the World Cup, but it was not to be. I have faith in the coach’s son, though. I plan on buying a USA soccer jersey (eventually), and Bradley is still my top choice of who to get.
You also may have heard them mention on the telecast the United States’ movement to win the bid to host an upcoming World Cup. More information can be found here: http://www.gousabid.com/city/local/philadelphia-pa/
Random stat I learned during research: Canada qualified for the 1986 World Cup.