Dear Chicago US fans,
Hope nobody gets on your case for not selling out the place, because I too noticed that you guys just did not stop singing in the whole second half. Excellent work - you outdid freaking Cubans, and you paid more than four cents to get in. The only way it could have been better is if you had taken my advice and sung "We're an American Band" by Grand Funk over and over.
I enjoyed hearing Shaka Hislop as the Loyal Opposition, and hope it is done extremely sparingly. Most of the teams in CONCACAF are teams I detest so much that the last thing I want to hear is their point of view. Yes, in theory it would be interesting to learn about Sven-Goran Eriksson's in-game decisions as they happen. In practice, I want biased, pro-American coverage.
Still, it was good television hearing the obvious pain and aggravation from Hislop as he watched his heirs lay a dinosaur egg on the Toyota Park turf. He all but called for Maturana's firing, and boy, T&T read the wrong scouting report on how to play the United States. But I wonder if this wasn't an attempt to let the next generation know what they're in for. "This is what it's like against the top teams around here, and it only gets worse in Azteca." If Maturana isn't thinking ahead, and really is hoping that Dwight Yorke will swoop in and save the day, then yeah, he's trying to get fired.
I wonder/hope if Bob Bradley saw poor Cornell Glen trying to beat four guys whenever he got the ball, however rarely that was, and said to himself "Oh, maybe a one forward formation isn't the way to go." Probably not, because the US completely controlled possession for the whole first half and most of the second - so the plan to have DaMarcus, Dempsey and Donovan attack at various times to support whichever big, useless stiff is up top - er, I mean, whichever target forward.
I realize there are groundswells for Kenny Cooper and Jozy Altidore, although I haven't been able to tell whether they are competing or complementary. I do know that the most popular guy in the national team pool is always the forward who wasn't called up. Brian McBride is the exception that proves the rule, since he was the badly-used target forward who was nevertheless skilled and brave enough to actually be effective...and he still wasn't able to break Wynalda's record. (And if our younger readers think that Eric Wynalda and Earnie Stewart were always lauded and adored by the US fans at the time, then as Mr. Halford said, you've got another thing coming.)
I thought DaMarcus Beasley was very fired up, as who wouldn't have been, being given a second chance after the Cuba debacle. If he stays healthy (laugh track), then he'll finally be the crucial player we've hoped he would become. Have we completely given up on Bobby Convey? I've honestly lost track. My theory is, Convey and Beasley add up to one healthy person. Well, maybe 2/3 of a healthy person.
I also loved Donovan's performance. Yeah, so the first goal was offside. Still a nifty pass. I want Landon in the middle, and I want guys making runs so he isn't covered by three guys all the time. We don't talk about this very much, but the US is pretty much completely dependent on Landon Donovan. The correct choice at forward is the player who can get to Landon's passes. The correct choice for coach is the one who can use Donovan most effectively. Every other player in the pool is replaceable - even the dropoff in talent from Tim Howard on down isn't as jarring as what would happen to us without Donovan. The Hexagonal (shut up, we've clinched) and the World Cup (shut up, we'll qualify) will be a series of tests of whether Landon Donovan can break free of coverage. And not everyone will be as accommodating as Trinidad's defense.
So I'm glad he's playing well for us, basically.
I don't know whether Kljestan and Bradley is a combination that can control a midfield on the international level, or simply on the second-tier CONCACAF at home level. I do know that the Sacha Kljestan Bad Pass Drinking Game would have killed Keith Richard within the first twenty minutes, but that's something that he will presumably work on. I hope. I learned absolutely nothing about the defense, and am skeptical of those who claim they did.