David Hirshey knows a lot more about the game than I do, but pining away for a true #10 is one of my pet peeves. You know who also has trouble coming up with players like Pele and Maradona? Brazil and Argentina. Conflating once-in-two-lifetimes players with formation and tactical decisions must be infuriating to coaches. As if it's Bob Bradley's fault he doesn't take Rico Clark or whoever and say "I hereby dub thee #10, now make beautiful soccer."
It's improbable that Coach Bradley agrees with me, and while it's very likely Bradley read Hirshey's article, it's almost impossible that Bradley hated it so much that he drew up tonight's 4-3-3 just to irritate him. But it sure seemed that way. Whatever your platonic ideal of the true #10 is, the only players in the pool less suited for the task than Jones, Edu and "Smith" are probably Howard and Guzan.
There are two ways to look at this formation. It might be completely revolutionary, something Bradley has specifically designed around the gifts of Jermaine Jones and Landon Donovan. Tonight's rather unimpressive performance will nevertheless stand as a historic milestone, as the first step in our new approach to international success. If this is the case, tonight we simply saw the first of what may be many growing pains, which down the road will pay off with a team that combines rigid discipline in the central defense, electrifying runs forward from the fullbacks, bone-crunching control of the middle, and multiple weapons deployed up front.
The US national team is now back into a long-term, long-haul, long-view mode. If you can get there, even if you don't take a lot of positives from tonight's game, you can take a lot of interest and intrigue in the direction the team is going.
Or, the 4-3-3 could have been a one-off based on the lack of MLS players available. In which case, we all wasted our time watching a game so bad, I'm surprised it wasn't at the Home Depot Center.
Well, most of us wasted our time with this game. Heath Pearce sure didn't. He was easily my man of the match, which isn't even my polite way of saying this game was an abortion on toast. It was an abortion on toast, but it wasn't Pearce's fault, he looked great. I'm sure that cheers him up immensely after stinking up the field back in May and blowing his World Cup roster spot.
I also liked what I saw from Eric Lehigh. Actually, I had no idea how to pronounce his name, and given that Healey and Harkes gave "Guzan" more variations than Rashomon, I still can't be sure. And I'm sure every fan of Polish descent is saying, "What? Lichaj, just like it's spelled." Maybe I'm just comparing Lichaj to Jonathan Spector, who has recently taken a deep and satisfying quaff from the flowing waters of the River Suck. I'd actually like to see Sean Franklin given a shot out there, but if we have to replace Cherundolo, it's better to have several options than none. So Lichaj wasn't perfect - it's stupid to judge a young player based on his first cap, after only 45 minutes of play.
Speaking of which, I never want to see Brek Shea play for the US again.
And it did seem like the supporters had a good time. Although something weird was obviously happening in the supporters section towards the end of the first half, because the very noisy chants had very much nothing to do with what was happening on the field...unless the Sons of Ben were really, really ticked off about a Gooch free kick. Let me assure local fans who were distracted during that period of time - you missed absolutely nothing. Julie Foudy drumming? Great! Tell FSC to order 24 episodes!
On the other hand, that "Wipeout" chant? The one that says "USA ain't nothing to snuggle with" (more or less)? Awesome. But if you guys were going for the hard R rating, where was "America - ******** Yeah!"?
I guess I just love Eastern Conference fans, and I wish I was one, instead of just another mellow, laid-back Western Conference hippie.
If we ever do ditch CONCACAF for CONMEBOL, we can finally build up that rivalry with Colombia that's been fermenting since the Teddy Roosevelt days. As Randy Newman sang in "Political Science," they stole our name. In revenge, we circumcised Panama from them, kicking them out of the "two continents, one country" club.
Of course, because of the Andres Escobar tragedy, we can't really celebrate the 1994 World Cup group win as much as we could. I honestly thought poor Alexi Lalas was going to shed tears tonight in the pregame.
I was disappointed that Juan Pablo Angel didn't give us more from the Colombian perspective, but I understand why he kept it low-key. I mean, what was I expecting? "Well, it was a horrible event, but that's what happens when you fix a game. You knew that game was fixed, didn't you, Alexi? Come on, you were there. That's why Carlos Valderrama got a ten-year contract with MLS. What are you guys looking at me like that for?"