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Some final thoughts and observations from the U.S. national soccer team's 0-0 draw with Colombia

*Let's not get caught up in results. This is the dead period -- three months after the World Cup and many months before anything meaningful comes along. The 2-2 draw with Poland and 0-0 stalemate with Colombia were as revealing as the 2-0 win over El Salvador in the fall of 2002 and the outcomes of all the January friendlies over the years. You don't remember those either, do you? The friendly at South Africa next month will have a larger profile, but again, these matches are about introducing new players, experimenting with partnerships and formations, and beginning the transition to the next World Cup cycle.

*Speaking of South Africa, the timing (between the dates of the MLS conference finals and MLS Cup), distance (a very long way from the States and Europe) and context (a charity friendly against Bafana Bafana) will impact player selection, despite the fact that the Nov. 17 match (2 p.m., ET, ESPN2) falls on an international fixture date. Said Bob Bradley: "It's been a busy year, so the discussions we have with players in Europe and clubs in Europe will have a lot to do with how much guys have been playing. It's much easier in a fixture like that for somebody not getting regular games, knowing he can get down to Cape Town and get a 90-minute match, than if somebody is playing 90 minutes the weekend before and is scheduled to play 90 minutes the weekend after."

So look for Bradley to select a number of MLS players whose clubs didn't qualify for the playoffs or were eliminated in the first round, and players who aren't earning regular time in Europe (Onyewu, Spector, Guzan, Johnson, Kljestan, Lichaj, Clark, among others).

Much more.....

*Brek Shea, age 20, made his debut by starting and playing 45 minutes. Like countless young players before him, he looked a little frozen in the moment. "The game is going faster than most games he is used to, so all of a sudden, it takes him a little longer to maybe figure out where he needs to go, but that is part of the experience," Bradley said. On his current trajectory in MLS, Shea has a long-term future with the national team. Patience is required.

*Eric Lichaj, 21, debuted in the second half at right back and served a nice cross to Jozy Altidore for one of the Americans' few scoring opportunities.

*We're going to see the Bundesliga boys, Jermaine Jones and Michael Bradley, paired regularly in central midfield, when their club schedules allow for international duty. "There is a pretty good understanding already between Jermaine and Michael," Bob Bradley said.

*Without Landon Donovan, the United States is a very different team. Donovan provides that element of surprise and unpredictability, the courage and skill to take on defenders and accelerate with the ball at his feet. In his absence, the Americans are much easier to defend. We saw that again Tuesday.

*The turnout of 8,823 was the smallest for a U.S. home game since April 2006, when 8,093 showed in Cary, N.C., for a 1-1 draw. (That was a sellout, or close to it.) Total attendance for the two U.S. friendlies the past four days was 40,519 -- not a terrible figure at the end of a four-year cycle. Then again, the Seattle Sounders drew 41,047 for a single friendly with Chivas Guadalajara at Qwest Field on Tuesday. That's what happens when you invite Mexico's second national team to MLS's best market.

*The USA lineup and subs:

GK Brad Guzan; Ds Jonathan Spector (Eric Lichaj 46th), Oguchi Onyewu (Michael Parkhurst 46th), Clarence Goodson, Heath Pearce; MFs Maurice Edu (Eddie Johnson 46th), Jermaine Jones, Michael Bradley; Stuart Holden (Benny Feilhaber 59th), Brek Shea (Clint Dempsey 46th); F Jozy Altidore. The only field player not to enter was midfielder Alejandro Bedoya.

By Steve Goff  | October 13, 2010; 3:49 AM ET
Categories:  U.S. men's national team  | Tags:  U.S. national team  
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Next: Jaime Moreno's farewell match with D.C. United next week will not be televised

Comments

I only saw the first half, but our 4-3-3 looked more like a 4-5-1 to me. Our wings helped out on D so much that Jozy was all by himself. We're used to pushing the ball forward quickly, which meant that when the ball got to Jozy it was 1 on 4. If we are going to use that formation, we need to slow the play down to give ourselves time to move players forward, and that really isn't how the US plays. If Bob had to decide now, I'd say stick with a 4-4-2, but he doesn't need to decide now.

Posted by: glfrazier | October 13, 2010 4:52 AM | Report abuse

I liked everything Bradley had to say about his team. He looks relaxed and well prepared to move the team in the right direction despite all the hand wringing over a meaningless friendly in the last thread. Thanks for pointing out what should be the obvious though Goff, it seems that sanity has taken a little break around these parts lately...;)

I liked Gooch's mobility on some set pieces, he's laid to rest my summer time worries, and German Jones is better than I expected. Hat's off to troy6 telling me so, so many months ago.
I guess the really good news is that there is not much reason to see Rico Clark every pull the shirt on again!

Off to work in the beer mines.
Toodles

Posted by: DadRyan | October 13, 2010 5:33 AM | Report abuse

I was hoping we would win so I could blame it on Bradley

Posted by: TenoriosLaptop | October 13, 2010 7:22 AM | Report abuse

even a blind squirrel finds a nut sometimes.

unfortunately for the cape town game, the bundesliga boys (god i hope that nickname doesn't catch on) probably won't be available, at least according to bob's criteria. it may not have worked this time, but I like the 4-5-1 concept. if lichaj and dempsey had played the first half, it might have looked a lot better.

Posted by: troy6 | October 13, 2010 7:23 AM | Report abuse

EJ was not awful last night. A little out of sync with Altidore (we've never had anyone in sync with him) and not given any passes to use his speed, but it was an OK 45 for him considering the overall performance.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | October 13, 2010 7:35 AM | Report abuse

That game was nearly impossible to watch last night. Horrendous play by both sides except for the occasional Colombian running up the middle unmarked. One shot on goal in the first half no USA shots on goal until the game was 2/3 over. Gooch playing catch with the keeper on a throw in about sums it up.

Posted by: csd1 | October 13, 2010 7:52 AM | Report abuse

"That's what happens when you invite Mexico's second national team to MLS's best market."

No, that's what happens when you sell 32,000 season tickets and include the Chivas game as part of the season ticket package.

Posted by: bubba24 | October 13, 2010 8:39 AM | Report abuse

I completely forgot about the game, and watched the Biggest Loser. Good choice. From a fan's standpoint, I really couldn't care less about these games.

Posted by: Reignking | October 13, 2010 8:53 AM | Report abuse

Goodson got the highest US player rating (7) from Soccer America:

http://www.socceramerica.com/article/39967/us-player-ratings-lichaj-debut-livens-up-turgid.html

Posted by: soccerman | October 13, 2010 8:54 AM | Report abuse

Oh yeah, and only 8,823 fans is a very poor showing for Philly, even considering it was mid-week.

Posted by: soccerman | October 13, 2010 9:11 AM | Report abuse

That "4-3-3" looked like a "4-1-4-1", with Edu more often than not holding in front of the CBs. Shea, god bless him in his first start, offered no initiative to get forward, and Holden seemed to have little support or opportunity when he did get a touch on the right.

I thought Lalas -- actually -- made a decent halftime point when he illustrated how much of a mess the team looked with three center-mids in there (Edu, Bradley, Jones), all wanting to basically play the same role. I do think those are three of our best players right now, but BB either needs to sacrifice one, or figure out a better scheme/plan to get them all involved effectively.

Posted by: JayW4 | October 13, 2010 9:16 AM | Report abuse

We clearly missed Robbie Findley.

Posted by: delantero | October 13, 2010 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Just can't get excited about these games. I watched the MLB playoffs instead.

Posted by: croftonpost | October 13, 2010 9:33 AM | Report abuse

A big positive was shutting out Colombia. A major factor was strong defending by Pearce and Lichaj. At least for one match, they overcame USA's chonic problem at outside back. That problem continued with Spector in the first half. I feel for Spector. He hasn't been the same since his injury last season. I agree with the previous poster who noted that Spector is out of position in wide defense. And, like Gooch and Altidore, he lacks match fitness. Guzan also lacks it, but fortunately he wasn't tested too often.

Posted by: runningcloud | October 13, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse

"It's much easier in a fixture like that for somebody not getting regular games, knowing he can get down to Cape Town and get a 90-minute match..."

-----------------------------------------------------------

Adu!!

Gesundheit.

Posted by: fischy | October 13, 2010 10:15 AM | Report abuse

French club Marseille have revealed that they are to take legal action against Manchester City midfielder Nigel de Jong after he broke the leg of their on-loan midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa.

''We will file a claim against De Jong. It's about getting rid of this type of individual from European grounds,'' Marseille president Jean-Claude Dassier told French television programme Telefoot.

Posted by: Reignking | October 13, 2010 10:30 AM | Report abuse

@JayW4: right on bro. They all three play the same role, and Jones is the best of the three. So they need to sacrifice the other 2 and put a more attack minded mid in there. BB will never do it. He loves that empty bucket. And that is exactly the reason why we see "the occasional Colombian running up the middle unmarked" (thanks for the illustrative quote, csd1). Stupid formation.

Posted by: Matte | October 13, 2010 10:39 AM | Report abuse

I guess the really good news is that there is not much reason to see Rico Clark every pull the shirt on again!

Posted by: DadRyan | October 13, 2010 5:33 AM

He can pull it on all he wants for the B squad, that is, if he can beat out the Beckermans of the world.

Posted by: VTUnited | October 13, 2010 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Mexico ties a 10-man Venezuela, 2-2 in Ciudad Juarez.

Why did they play in Juarez? Was the Rose Bowl unavailable?

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | October 13, 2010 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Just can't get excited about these games. I watched the MLB playoffs instead.

Posted by: croftonpost | October 13, 2010 9:33 AM

It's not about excitement, I just wanted to see the guys play. Especially Jones, Shea and Lichaj - since I don't watch much of the Bundesliga, MLS or Villa reserves. The match as a whole was a dud (I thought that had a bit more to do with Colombia playing turgidly and keeping 8 men behind the ball much of the time), but the game served it's purpose.

Posted by: Kev29 | October 13, 2010 11:13 AM | Report abuse

"Mexico ties a 10-man Venezuela, 2-2 in Ciudad Juarez.

Why did they play in Juarez? Was the Rose Bowl unavailable?"

Bahahahahaaaa! So true, my goodness, Mexico plays in the USA TOO MUCH!!!

Posted by: elfelixg | October 13, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

There was something friendly in Juarez?

Posted by: Reignking | October 13, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

That Bob Bradley is HILARIOUS! "There is a pretty good understanding already between Jermaine and Michael," he said. Of course he said that, he was always going to say that, no matter the results.

And so pappa is putting the word out there that although Michael looked atrocious the prior game and didn't look much better against Colombia, he's feeding the message to the press that they are to believe that he has a "good understanding" with Jones, because there is no way in hell after watching Jones play that pappa could, with a straight face, keep Jones off the field in favor of sonny boy, Michael. So he plants the seeds here of justification by claiming the understanding they have.

And now we know, Michael is going to play every minute of every game for which he is called up, no matter what, yet again. No matter what.

And now I'm officially on board with the "FIRE BOB BRADLEY" masses.

Posted by: fed-up-united | October 13, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Goodson got the highest US player rating (7) from Soccer America:

http://www.socceramerica.com/article/39967/us-player-ratings-lichaj-debut-livens-up-turgid.html

Posted by: soccerman | October 13, 2010 8:54 AM
==========================

Clearly, he was exceptionally well coached as a youngster.

Posted by: Rand-al-Thor | October 13, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

I realize that this is a friendly, but what was with that 3 Central Defensive Midfield line up. We knew that Columbia had a very tough defense. Does anyone else think that it is the coaches job to come up with tactics to score against a club like this? How did having three guys that play the same position resolve that problem? The one thing I will give the team credit for is pitching a shutout. To their credit they could not should out the likes of El Salvador at home, but holding a better Columbia squad to zero goals is a solid accomplishment.

Posted by: no_recess | October 13, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

I realize that this is a friendly, but what was with that 3 Central Defensive Midfield line up. We knew that Columbia had a very tough defense. Does anyone else think that it is the coaches job to come up with tactics to score against a club like this? How did having three guys that play the same position resolve that problem? The one thing I will give the team credit for is pitching a shutout. To their credit they could not should out the likes of El Salvador at home, but holding a better Columbia squad to zero goals is a solid accomplishment.

Posted by: no_recess | October 13, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

That was the worst game I've ever been to, hands down.

When Heath Pearce, like the one time he got forward, crossed right into the chest of the defender for a throw in it kinda summed up the night.

BTW I disagree with the hypothesis that no Donovan=toothless attack. We could have played with two strikers and two AMs from the beginning instead of Jozy + Brek Drek + four holding mids + four static defenders.

It was bad plan, bad effort and a waste of time and money.

Posted by: Jeremy11 | October 13, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

We could have played with two strikers and two AMs from the beginning instead of Jozy + Brek Drek + four holding mids + four static defenders.

It was bad plan, bad effort and a waste of time and money.

Posted by: Jeremy11 | October 13, 2010 12:25 PM

Yeah - but almost all of our attacking players not named Donovan end up turning attacking options into opposing throw-ins. Do you honestly think that MORE Eddie Johnson was going to liven up this match? Bradley put Holden and Shea in to attack - they just didn't do a very good job of it.

Posted by: Kev29 | October 13, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

3 DMs? wow. who could have predicted how that would turn out? sadly the guy calling the shots.

and all while an EPL (and previously MLS all-star) playmaker gets relegated to the wing.

this used to be a joke. now it is just sad. no, the results dont matter, but everything else does. and everything else continues to be highly questionable. these games are opportunities to move the program forward. this game is a perfect example of how BB fails to do that.

so what is the BB supporters' reply this time? 'these games dont matter (and i didnt watch anyway)'?

Posted by: rainORshine | October 13, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Would anyone here take Angel from the red metro stars and bring him into a non-assisting DC United team?

Posted by: TenoriosLaptop | October 13, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

At 35? At the right price. This team has gotten much younger recently, and he isn't injury-prone.

Posted by: Reignking | October 13, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

In honor of the 33 trapped Chilean miners Bob Bradley will keep 33 defensive midfielders at the top of the list in the USMNT player pool for the upcoming World Cup cycle. And Michael Bradley will continue to be guaranteed a starting role.

Posted by: Joel_M_Lane | October 13, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

sadly *not* the guy calling the shots. :()

Posted by: rainORshine | October 13, 2010 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Bob Bradley caused the accident that destroyed the mine.

Posted by: Reignking | October 13, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Yes, we need to sort out central midfield, but IMO we also need to stop relying on Altidore up front. I just don't think he has the quality we need, and neither does EJ and Findlay. When Donovan plays I would like to see his teammate Buddle up front, as those two have an understanding. But the USA needs forwards, especially those with a bit of the selfish striker mentality.

Posted by: b18bolo | October 13, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Yes, we need to sort out central midfield, but IMO we also need to stop relying on Altidore up front. I just don't think he has the quality we need, and neither does EJ and Findlay. When Donovan plays I would like to see his teammate Buddle up front, as those two have an understanding. But the USA needs forwards, especially those with a bit of the selfish striker mentality.

Posted by: b18bolo | October 13, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Leonel Alavarez needs a haircut.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | October 13, 2010 2:34 PM | Report abuse

so the crew of BB haters who shout at him for never trying anything new are now shouting at him for trying something new. go figure. he tried to get three of his best players on the field at once, and it didnt work out that great. big deal. this is the time for experiments. as for not plugging in Holden at CM, its a great idea, but who (from last night's squad) fills in out wide, and which two of the the CMs do you take out? maybe that will be BB's next experiment. the point is, he DID take a chance with something new last night, which is exactly what BS friendlies are for.

Posted by: VTUnited | October 13, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Did someone say "haircut"?!

"I, I went off to the right
Without saying goodbye, goodbye
Where does it go from here?
Is it down to the lake I fear?
Ay ah ah ah ah ah
Ay ah ah ah ah ah
Then I call
Ring (ring) ring (ring) ring (ring) ring (ring)
La la love plus one..."

Haircut 100, "Love Plus One", 1982

Posted by: Rand-al-Thor | October 13, 2010 2:50 PM | Report abuse

also - thoughts pre and during, and now post WC, i am really impressed with how BB has kept goodson out of 1st team despite completely solid performances every time out as opposed to consistently shaky play and injuries (which has translated to not playing at club or not having a club) of gooch and demerit.

keep at it Bob...

Posted by: rainORshine | October 13, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

also - thoughts pre and during, and now post WC, i am really impressed with how BB has kept goodson out of 1st team despite completely solid performances every time out as opposed to consistently shaky play and injuries (which has translated to not playing at club or not having a club) of gooch and demerit.

keep at it Bob...

Posted by: rainORshine | October 13, 2010 2:55 PM

yeah, that Gold Cup Final last year wasn't shaky at all...

Posted by: VTUnited | October 13, 2010 3:06 PM | Report abuse

so the crew of BB haters who shout at him for never trying anything new are now shouting at him for trying something new. go figure. he tried to get three of his best players on the field at once, and it didnt work out that great. big deal. this is the time for experiments. as for not plugging in Holden at CM, its a great idea, but who (from last night's squad) fills in out wide, and which two of the the CMs do you take out? maybe that will be BB's next experiment. the point is, he DID take a chance with something new last night, which is exactly what BS friendlies are for.

Posted by: VTUnited | October 13, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

VT (you can call me JMUUnited, unless VT is not for tech, in which case never mind)

the 'big deal' is that it was a terrible idea. if you have absolutely no CAM options then MAYBE you try 3 DMs. holden is an EPL playmaker = pretty good option.

who else do you play on wing? really? umm, off the top of my head - dempsey, feilhaber, bedoya...

which DM do you sit? i could care less. start 2, sub 1 off at half. you can then start to actually compare realistic combinations.

the 'big deal' is that in the grand scheme there are not all that many 'BS friendlies'. they are actually rare opportunities to move the program forward.

the 'big deal' is that BB is consistently 6mo - 1 year behind in identifying positive changes. the result is that he never quite has it figured out. using WC as example, he failed to integrate in-form players like goodson, edu, holden and buddle while opting for out-of-form (or just not good) players like gooch, demerit, clark, altidore, and findley.

just like the international game is just too fast for some good players, the same is true for good coaches. BB has simply proven to be too slow in putting the right players on the field. BB will eventually get holden a shot in the middle - by then there will be another glaring adjustment he fails to address in a timely manner...

Posted by: rainORshine | October 13, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

also - thoughts pre and during, and now post WC, i am really impressed with how BB has kept goodson out of 1st team despite completely solid performances every time out as opposed to consistently shaky play and injuries (which has translated to not playing at club or not having a club) of gooch and demerit.

keep at it Bob...

Posted by: rainORshine | October 13, 2010 2:55 PM

yeah, that Gold Cup Final last year wasn't shaky at all...

Posted by: VTUnited | October 13, 2010 3:06 PM | Report abuse

right, playing with a bunch of 3rd/4th stringers against mexicos 1st team a year b/f WC is a fair platform for assessment.

goodson and holden were only WC players on the field for US. but im sure the result can be pinned mostly on them, and not the 9 others...

Posted by: rainORshine | October 13, 2010 3:34 PM | Report abuse

rainORshine - my point about the Gold Cup final was that it was really the only recent pressure situation Goodson had featured in, and it did not end well. that wasn't Mexico's 1st team, and it wasnt our 3rd/4th team. at least six of the US players on the field that day made the 30-man pre WC camp squad. I fault BB for the Clark/Findley stuff, which were obvious mistakes, but I don't know if its fair to criticize him for not starting Goodson when he had 3 other seasoned CBs available.

as for the stuff about the formation last night, I don't have an answer for you. BB tried to get his best players on the field at once, and it was a mess (offensively). hopefully he learns from it and comes up with something better.

Posted by: VTUnited | October 13, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

rainORshine - my point about the Gold Cup final was that it was really the only recent pressure situation Goodson had featured in, and it did not end well. that wasn't Mexico's 1st team, and it wasnt our 3rd/4th team. at least six of the US players on the field that day made the 30-man pre WC camp squad. I fault BB for the Clark/Findley stuff, which were obvious mistakes, but I don't know if its fair to criticize him for not starting Goodson when he had 3 other seasoned CBs available.

as for the stuff about the formation last night, I don't have an answer for you. BB tried to get his best players on the field at once, and it was a mess (offensively). hopefully he learns from it and comes up with something better.

Posted by: VTUnited | October 13, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

rainORshine - my point about the Gold Cup final was that it was really the only recent pressure situation Goodson had featured in, and it did not end well. that wasn't Mexico's 1st team, and it wasnt our 3rd/4th team. at least six of the US players on the field that day made the 30-man pre WC camp squad. I fault BB for the Clark/Findley stuff, which were obvious mistakes, but I don't know if its fair to criticize him for not starting Goodson when he had 3 other seasoned CBs available.

as for the stuff about the formation last night, I don't have an answer for you. BB tried to get his best players on the field at once, and it was a mess (offensively). hopefully he learns from it and comes up with something better.

Posted by: VTUnited | October 13, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

VT - ok, ok, i heard you the first time...

no, goodson didnt feature in qualifiers but he appeared in all 8 games b/t last qualifier and WC, starting 4 of the last 5 in the run up. (starting in 3 of 4 USMNT 2010 Wins) i have been in a small minority questioning demerits value since confed cup. when boca/gooch pairing got blown apart due to no LBs and gooch injury, goodson was the guy to turn to, not an injured gooch and demerit. demerit was suspect before eye injury, poor after. its really no surprise that no one in europe wants him.

people were always impressed with demerits ball winning, but his positioning, instincts and distribution are not good.

goodson will never be confused for a great CB, but he gets the job done and its a shame he did not have a chance to raise his stock in WC. clearly demerit blew his undeserved opportunity...

Posted by: rainORshine | October 13, 2010 7:24 PM | Report abuse

And some wonder why more people aren't soccer fans in the U.S.? Let's see, the National Team schedule plays mostly "friendlies" that the coach uses to experiment with formations and players. Winning is secondary, the games essentially don't mean anything, and 0-0 is a good result. The NFL can't even get fans to fill there stadiums for pre-season games and yet U.S. soccer and it's fans puzzle over low attendance? I'm a fan and I couldn't watch more than 20 minutes of the Columbia match.

Posted by: colel1 | October 14, 2010 10:12 AM | Report abuse

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