USMNT / World Cup

USA 2-1 El Salvador – A Few Thoughts

If you are only a casual USMNT fan, you might be forgiven if you forgot this game was happening. In fact, many hardcore fans have questioned the real value of this fixture. The fact is, though, that there are still a good 5-6 spots on the World Cup roster still up for grabs. This game could go a long way to help determine who fills those spots.

Kjlestan back in the mix?

In what was the last game for many MLS-based players to get a look from Bob Bradley, the US team was well up for it, knowing many of their World Cup futures likely depend on it. In a game that was high on energy, low on quality, the US for the most part pushed around a diminutive El Salvador team.

The US dominated possession and had far more chances. Nick Rimando had very little to do in goal, and the US was shut out for most of the match by a combination of poor finishing, the crossbar, and a few very good saves from Miguel Montes. The Yanks fell behind against the run of play through Rudis Corrales following a poor defensive mistake by Brad Evans. However, the Americans soon found themselves level after a pinpoint cross from Heath Pearce found Brian Ching’s head, who made no mistake in front of goal. In stoppage time, Sacha Kljestan pick-pocketed a defender outside the box, played a give-and-go and fired past Montes (who had oddly given up on the play), giving the US a deserved victory.

Here are some thoughts from the match:

-Sacha Kljestan really needed a good game and he delivered. He was composed on the ball, made quality passes and oh yeah, scored the winning goal. He looked like a long shot to make the World Cup squad a few months ago, but he has now at least put himself back in the conversation.

-Conor Casey is what he is. A limited player who does the best he can with what he has. He had a few good moments in his 45 minutes but still loses possession easily and showed some poor awareness; twice being caught miles offside, killing promising attacks in the process. After a like-for-like substitution, Brian Ching looked far more dangerous up to, including and after his equalizing header. My money is on Ching winning the target-man battle.

-Heath Pearce put in a very good shift at left back, both defensively and going forward (including the fine cross leading to Ching’s header). It was not too long ago that he was considered first choice, and with that position being a major concern for the US heading into the World Cup, it is great to have him back in the mix again.

-Robbie Findley is very fast. Didn’t see much else from him though.

-Awesome crowd. Though it wasn’t a totally packed house, it was certainly a vocal one from start to finish, and it was fantastic to hear a majority of home fans for a change. Here’s hoping for a similar atmosphere (albeit with lots more people) at the match vs. Turkey at the Linc.

One Comment

  1. Pearce was terrific in attack, and so was Ching. Casey had two great passes that should have produced goals. I thought he had a solid game, but yes, he is what he is. I think both Casey and Ching can make the World Cup, particularly with no other backup forwards impressing. And how about Eddie Gaven? Great game, winning fouls, breaking down defenders. (He’s about 24, but he looks about 44, no?)

    Montes turned some heads for El Salvador with some brilliant saves. He has some serious skill, but you can just see his attitude by the way he plays. He gave up on the second U.S. goal, for example, and he showboats too much with the ball at his feet — one day, someone’s going to strip him in his own box. But some great saves.

    Nobody else really stood out for particularly good reasons. Robbie Rogers showed his talent and also why he’s not a top choice: that point blank miss on goal when he should’ve dished to Gaven. Awfully frustrating to watch him. Can be so brilliant but then so frustrating with his decision-making (like that weak header after Pearce’s great dribble breakdown and cross from the left).

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