USMNT / World / World Cup

Observations from the US v. Australia Game

The US looked good earning a 3-1 victory over the Australians on Saturday, June 5th 2010. Although the US defense had some scares and looked very vulnerable to crosses, the US deserved to win by at least two goals. The US had a plethora of quality chances, and Robbie Findley must be very disappointed to have missed two gilt edged opportunities. The scoreline in this game could easily have been 6-3 USA.

It was very impressive that the US had so many scoring opportunities against the starting eleven of an Australian team that has ridden its defensive prowess to the World Cup. Edson Buddle looked particularly dangerous, and rewarded Bob Bradley’s faith in him by providing two well taken goals. Buddle scored on a close range header and with a very hard strike on goal. His technique in both cases was impeccable.

Although Buddle could simply get kudos for his brace, Buddle also deserved credit for holding up the ball well and bringing it down for his teammates. Beyond that Buddle hustled defensively and made some nice passes. The same can be said for Robbie Findley, although Findley’s passes did not have the same level of quality.

Findley made good runs, made some smart plays, and worked hard defensively. However, his passes just weren’t good enough. He made some poor decisions such as not feeding Donovan on what looked to be a clear break away towards goal. Bob Bradley may still want to keep Findley on the field regardless of these deficiencies because of his work ethic and pace. Just having Findley on the field seems to force opposing defenses to back up and give our team more space so as not to get caught by a breakaway run. This is something that Davies’ presence brought in the Confederations Cup.

Landon Donovan had a strong game and participated in a number of goal scoring opportunities. He ended up feeding Herculez Gomez for the final third goal. Donovan and Clint Dempsey both had great games coming in from the wings and playing more centrally. This strategy grants both of them the independence they need to make the most of their creative abilities. In addition they both switched sides during the match, which can cause problems for opposing defenses.

There were a couple of plays where the US showed some excellent slick passing on the counter attack. This is something that hasn’t occurred too often for the national team. However, in this game they managed to string together some excellent passes from one end of the field to the other that were finished off with strong shots on goal. It would have been nice to see how Jozy Altidore would have affected the game. Unfortunately, he was out with a mildly sprained ankle, which shouldn’t rule him out of the game against England.

The central midfield looked solid, but it would have been nice to see Bradley and Torres together rather than Clark and Bradley. Torres brings a level of passing creativity that other players on the team don’t seem to possess.

The back four did not look solid and were very troubled by the flight of the new World Cup ball. The Australians had similar problems, and it is probable that most of the teams in the World Cup will have problems with this ball. Onyewu played the last 30 minutes, and it is doubtful that he will be starting against the English. He just doesn’t look game fit yet. Jonathan Bornstein came in and played pretty well. Unfortunately, that is not the norm. Cherundolo continued his steady form and looks like a lock to start over Jonathan Spector.

Marcus Hahneman appeared in goal and made a couple great saves. However, he did make things uncomfortable by coming out for crosses and missing them. This did not inspire confidence in his play. He is still probably the number two ahead of Brad Guzan.

All in all this was an encouraging performance. It is nice to see the US creating so many scoring opportunities and even better to see the majority of them get finished off. We aren’t going to beat the English by playing great defense alone. The US will have to score at least twice to beat the English, who will surely score at least one goal.

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