Recap: Republic of Ireland 4–1 USMNT

The U.S. slumped to its worst defeat of 2014 in its final game of the year, losing 4–1 to the Republic of Ireland in Dublin on Tuesday. Ireland would take the lead early in both halves, and while the U.S. fought back gamely in the first half, its effort was not the same in the second. Irish substitutes brought the game to a level the U.S. couldn’t match, and ran away with it late.

First half

Jurgen Klinsmann again opted for a two-striker, 4-1-3-2 setup, with Chris Wondolowski playing off of Jozy Altidore. Alfredo Morales got a start in midfield, with Fabian Johnson reverting to right back. In fact, the back line was all new, with Timmy Chandler left, and Geoff Cameron and Matt Besler in the middle. Bill Hamid started in goal.

There was little happening in the early minutes, and just as the U.S. seemed to be dialing in its passing, Ireland scored. A pass from Alejandro Bedoya left Kyle Beckerman short and the ball turned over. Crossing midfield, Anthony Pilkington played a wall pass to David McGoldrick, then took off upfield at a sprint. McGoldrick played a sweet ball into space, where Pilkington arrived, having blown by Besler on the outside. His first-time chip with the outside of his boot over the onrushing Bill Hamid was as deft as it was cheeky, and gave Ireland the lead.

The U.S. wallowed for a bit, with Ireland not creating much of their own. But by 20 minutes, The U.S. began making chances. In the 20th, Cameron found Bedoya up the line, who beat his man to the endline and served a cross that nearly found Altidore at the back post. Then in the 22nd, one of many U.S. corners was played to Johnson just outside the 18. His shot ripped through the forest of players in the box and pinged off the outside of the post.

The U.S. would have a scare in the 27th minute. A simple long ball out of the Irish defense fell in the U.S. box and wasn’t dealt with. After weak challenges from U.S. defenders, Ireland had a one-on-one chance with Hamid, but the big keeper made a great point-blank stop.

But the U.S. would finish the half strong. In the 38th minute, Mix Diskerud pressure led to an Irish giveaway. Morales jumped on the free ball and tried to feed Wondolowski in the Ireland box. The ball was blocked, but rebounded wide left to Altidore, who crossed it back in. Wondo was there to cushion a header into the path of Diskerud who finished balletically with the outside of his foot.

The U.S. nearly went ahead a few minutes later. A cross from Chandler found Bedoya on the endline. He cut it back first time, where Altidore hit a first-time shot. The ball took the slightest deflection off an Irish defender, and the ball slammed back off the underside of the crossbar. The teams would end the half level.

Second half

The U.S. started brightly enough, with an Altidore shot requiring a wrong-foooted kick-save from Shay Given in the 50th, but Ireland cranked up the pressure after that, generating multiple chances. In the 55th minute, it would result in the second Irish goal.

Fabian Johnson found himself pinned in the right U.S. corner. Rather than booting the ball into touch, he attempted to turn out of trouble, only to find an Irish player with his clearance. Ireland played into the U.S. box, and McGoldrick set up Robert Brady just outside the six to finish past Hamid.

For much of the remaining half, it was one-way traffic, and not in the U.S.’s favor. Only on a couple of occasions did the U.S. look likely to turn the tide, but with better finishing, the game might have turned out very differently. In the 67th, second-half sub Bobby Wood chased down a long ball and ran past the defense. He opened his hips to shoot past the keeper, but Given got the end of a stud on the ball and pushed it past the far post. In the 81st, another second-half sub, Greg Garza, also nearly scored, after being played in by yet another sub, Jordan Morris, but Given was equal again to his shot.

And as the clock ticked down, Ireland put the game away. Shane Long went on a long run down the U.S. right, getting around everyone. He tried to place shot in the far side netting, but his shot came back off the post. Ireland recycled the ball, and it fell to James McClean, who tried a speculative shot from outside the box. Unfortunately, what should have been an easy save for Hamid found the back of the net off a deflection.

U.S. heads fell at that point, and it would only get worse in the 86th, when a Johnson foul brought about a free kick some 25 yards out. Up stepped Brady, playing nominally as a left back on the night to take it. In short, his delivery was perfect, nestling in the upper 90 for 4–1.

U.S. verdict

Too sloppy: The U.S.’s passing, especially in the second half, was very, very sloppy. Time after time, the ball simply found Irish feet instead of American. Not good enough.

Unsettled defense: The U.S. defense looked poor all night. Several times, the Irish exploited the American’s bad attempts at playing offsides, and could have had more if not for individual efforts to block attempts.

Finishing school: It’s getting a bit repetitive, but with better finishing, this game might have turned out differently. It’s difficult to watch the U.S. score goals requiring so much technique, like Diskerud’s, then not put it together for simpler chances. Wood will improve, of course, but he could have scored at least three times in his last three appearances, but hasn’t managed it once.

Happy holidays: With that, the U.S.Men’s National Team ends its soccer year. 2014 started incredibly brightly, but has faded, ever so quickly these past couple months.

Final thoughts

Call it a World Cup hangover, if you like, but the U.S. hasn’t really gotten going since the tournament ended. Hopefully, when the big names return, and some promising injured players like Joe Gyau get healthy, the U.S. will turn things around. But it’s going to be a long cold wait for January’s camp. And until then, this is a bitter memory to keep.

22-Bill Hamid; 23-Fabian Johnson, 20-Geoff Cameron, 5-Matt Besler, 21-Timmy Chandler (24-Jordan Morris, 76); 15-Kyle Beckerman (2-Tim Ream, 87); 11-Alejandro Bedoya, 10-Mix Diskerud (9-Rubio Rubin, 77), 4-Alfredo Morales (3-Greg Garza, 65); 18-Chris Wondolowski (19-Bobby Wood, 46), 17-Jozy Altidore (capt.)
Subs Not Used: 1-Brad Guzan, 12-Nick Rimando, 14-Miguel Ibarra, 16-Julian Green, 25-Sean Johnson
Head Coach: Jurgen Klinsmann

23-Shay Given (22-Rob Elliot, 85); 6-Cyrus Christie, 20-Alex Pearce, 5-Ciaran Clark, 17-Robbie Brady; 13-Anthony Pilkington (11-James McClean, 64), 18-Stephen Quinn, 12-David Meyler (capt.); 14- Anthony Stokes (7-Aiden McGeady, 60); 21-David McGoldrick (9-Shane Long, 77), 10-Daryl Murphy (8-Jeff Hendrick, 77)
Subs Not Used: 2-Seamus Coleman, 4-John O’Shea, 15-Richard Keogh, 16-Darren Randolph, 19-Jon Walters
Head Coach: Martin O’Neill

Scoring Summary
IRL: Anthony Pilkington (David McGoldrick) — 7th minute
USA: Mix Diskerud (Chris Wondolowski) — 39
IRL: Robbie Brady (David McGoldrick) — 55
IRL: James McClean — 82
IRL: Robbie Brady — 86

Disciplinary Summary
USA: Kyle Beckerman (caution) — 37th minute
USA: Jozy Altidore (caution) — 65
USA: Geoff Cameron (caution) — 85
IRL: Aiden McGeady (caution) — 90
USA: Fabian Johnson (caution) — 90+2
IRL: David Meyler (caution) — 90+4

Stats Summary (USA / IRL)
Shots: 13 / 10
Shots on Goal: 5 / 6
Saves: 2 / 4
Corner Kicks: 11 / 6
Fouls: 15 / 11
Offside: 1 / 3

Referee: Pawel Raczkowski (POL)
Assistant Referee 1: Pawel Sokolnicki (POL)
Assistant Referee 2: Michal Obukowicz (POL)
Fourth Official: Paul Mclaughlin (IRL)

Venue: Aviva Stadium; Dublin, Ireland
Attendance: 33,332
Weather: 48 degrees, partly cloudy


  1. Ugly game. Hard to read too much into it with so many newbies. Klinsman trying new stuff. He’ll keep a couple names.

  2. I disagree Ken. That game was an out and out disgrace. Wondolowski terrible. Beckerman terrible. Johnson terrible. Chandler terrible. Beesler terrible. The whole team in 2nd half makes me want to vomit. This US team has done nothing since its win against Ghana. No movement. No clue. No technical skill. No idea how to play. None. They suck! They guess and hope to combine a few passes- but can’t do that even because no one moves or are all stuck linearly. It’s a @ucking mess. Goodbye.

  3. Didn’t see the game, but I hope Edu was watching. I actually haven’t seen any US matches since the World Cup, but from the write-ups I’ve seen, central defense has been a convoluted mess. Playing CB regularly can put him right back into the national team mix for at least Copa 2016 if not Russia 2018 as well. Why not do it with the Union?

    • The central defense is a problem along with the outside backs but the mid field is the real issue– right next to the striking and coaching.

  4. The USMNT played like a midlevel seed in the NCAA tournament. with about as much sophistication. Dont blame the players. They had no idea how to play and what to do. They were not prepared. It was schoolyard time.

  5. Klinsmann will just blame the players. He’ll ruin this team yet. Why can’t he just pick the best players and coach them? Instead he tries to manage everyone’s career, looks down on MLS, doesn’t give good MLS players a look. And his personal vendettas and favoritism are ridiculous. Landon Donovan could have made a difference in Brazil, and he may still be the best US soccer player in the world. How about a call up for Amobi? How was Lee Nguyen not evaluated before the World Cup? He could have helped the team too. AND HOW DO YOU ONLY TAKE ONE BONAFIDE TARGET STRIKER TO THE WORLD CUP, SO THAT WHEN HE GETS INJURED YOU HAVE NO ONE?!?

  6. How ’bout them Irish!!!
    When Martin O’Neill is subbing the likes of Shane Long, James McClean & Aiden McGeady into the match while JK is countering with Rubio Rubin, Jordan Morris and Bobby Wood, this is the result you get. Premier League professionals tearing young kids to shreds.
    For the US, there are lessons to be learned through this disappointing loss. No need for alarm bells to sound at this point in the cycle.

    • Agreed. And that was my takeaway. I expected McGeady and Long to start. That they didn’t need to and then came on as subs? That’s just not a good recipe for the U.S. Our subs were very young/inexperience, and their subs were excellent players in their professional primes.

    • There are no alarm bells. Just the cold hard truth. That wasn’t the best IX the Irish offered last night so it is a push because it was not the best IX the US offered. What is evident is there is no cohesive idea how to play the game. Over and over and over it is so obvious and so glaring. Nobody knows how to play the game. These are National Team players, I don’t give a rip if they are not first teamers– and it is simple things like receiving and offering and clean passing- technical stuff- let alone the total lack of sophistication or ideas on how to go forward to position yourself before you need to have been in that position. So much ball watching and not thinking. So much ball watching as if they are meditating on the present instead of thinking about where and how the play is going to occur and providing outlet support. At least 109 times last night I saw our midfielders in a row- no depth no movement no support just jogging and ball watching while the OB are looking, begin for an outlet. They suck. I have seen nothing in the way of improvement. Nothing. I stand by my position that change has to come from the youth but to lose 4-1 last night? Good God.
      Its all dreck and JK wanted to end the year on a good note? Getting thrashed all over the field by Colombia is one thing and please do not take offense to this, getting thrashed all over the field by the Republic of Ireland is another.

    • Spot on sean.

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