A Blank Sheet with few threats: The US vs. Colombia Soccer Friendly
America finally held a team to a shut-out. They held an emasculated Colombian team to very few chances, but did not generate many themselves. The truth is the strongest player on this team right now is Mike Bradley. He leads by strong example; he hussles back on every play, he wants the ball at every opportunity, and he builds the plays from the back. The problem is that America cannot find a strong withdrawn striker or second striker. There is entirely too much pressure on the players up front. Once America advances the ball beyond midfield there is not a player maker on the field to really advance the play. Bradley cannot control that part of the field and since Tab Ramos and Claudia Reyna we a serious playmaker in the midfield. Donovan is established and the strongest player on the American team but he plays on the outside and cannot control the middle.
Brad Guzan got the start for America in goal and therefore the shutout. He played a conservative game, as did the whole American team. Guzan could have controled the back better. You could see the esteem the team displays towards Tim Howard and his orders. Guzan plays a more subdued response and sometimes building from the back does not seem like America's best option. On at least two occasions he placed short balls to outside fullbacks that only increased pressure on them. Sometimes it is important to just clear the ball out of the defensive third but Guzan rarely took that route.
The American squad took few chances. When they advanced the ball it was rarely with conviction. They had a couple of good chances but never really pushed the team forward too quickly. The problem with the pace America played was that by not looking for a quick tempo they rely on a playmaker. A player on the field that can build chances when the defense is back, America lacks that type of player.
Jozy Altidore played a fair game but could not repeat his scoring. He had the best opportunties for America but never capitalized on any of them. Dempsey played strong but went through long stretches of the game without showing for the ball. Another strong point of this squad was that many the players made strong runs back for the ball. This showed a determination to remain on the field and for players to prove their worth. But very few of these passes resulted in much forward progress. The players were reluctant to turn the ball and often played it back from where it came. There needed to be more aggressive movement with the ball where American players take the ball at the defense.
Jermaine Jones played strong as well. By the second half he seemed frustrated by the lack of offensive will by America. While attempting to move the ball quickly he began forcing difficult passes and his judgment was not at its peak form. He was trying too hard to build an opportunity from nowhere. This should not detract from his overall strong performance. Jones is 28, so he is not that young, but he is a welcome addition to this team and has already made an impact.
Clarence Goodson played strong in the back and proved to be reliable in defense. He stymied many of the advances by Colombian players but he was not that tested by this Colombian team. Let's hope he proves to be as effective against stronger players.
Overall the team deserves a solid B+. The shutout is positive and while the tie at home is not ideal it is a friendly and many of the players were not used to each other on the field yet. In the future the team will get stronger and needs to grow its offense but that has been America's problem for some time-a vespected and consistent goal scorer.