The United States Men’s National Team fell to Holland 2-1 tonight in Amsterdam in their final exhibition game before Coach Bob Bradley names the 23-man World Cup roster. The result will obviously leave the USA team unsatisfied, especially after a furious offensive rally near the end of the game. However, in my opinion, the Yanks have nothing to be ashamed about.
Holland’s star-studded attack of Sneijder, Robben, Elia, Kuyt, and Huntelaar certainly produced their fair share of chances at goal, but the two goals they did score were both pretty weak. The first came on a penalty kick just before halftime. If not for the utterly stupid foul in the box from American defender Jonathan Bornstein, the Dutch probably would have gone to the locker room even at 0-0.
The second Dutch goal came from a shot that took a wicked deflection off Bornstein…USA goalkeeper Tim Howard likely would have had the shot covered if it didn’t hit off his defender. Taking the circumstances of each goal into consideration, the USA did a decent job on defense. I wouldn’t say it was flawless, but they were able to maintain the “bend, don’t break” mentality throughout the game. Tim Howard was really only forced to make a few tough saves.
Offensively, it took about 60 minutes for the Americans to warm up. Once they found themselves comfortable up front, the likes of Jozy Altidore, DaMarcus Beasley, Alejandro Bedoya, and Landon Donovan were able to create some problems for the Dutch defense. Altidore did an above average job holding the ball up front and Beasley was able to serve up a few dangerous crosses…one of which directly led to the USA goal from defender Carlos Bocanegra. Following a series of great USA chances near the end of the game, Holland has to be feeling a little fortunate they didn’t concede a second goal.
As stated above, tonight’s game was the final test for American players vying for a position on the World Cup squad. Some helped their cause, and others…well, they all but played themselves out of a spot. Judging from their performances today, I’ve gone through those who played today and evaluated whether or not they helped or hurt their case for a roster spot in South Africa.
Players on the bubble who played today…
-Robbie Findley, forward….STOCK WAY DOWN — Won’t make the team. Looked very slow and lost at times.
-Jose Francisco Torres, midfielder…STOCK UP — May sneak onto the WC team with his offensive performance today.
-Eddie Johnson, forward…STOCK DOWN — Looked slow and confused, but could still make the team because of experience.
-DaMarcus Beasley, midfielder…STOCK EVEN — Looked awful at first, but was very dangerous at the end…and assisted on the goal.
-Maurice Edu, midfielder…STOCK UP — Answered questions about his injury recovery. Looked solid today.
-Clarence Goodson, defender…STOCK UP — Didn’t play a lot, but he provides a physical presence that the USA needs in the back.
-Heath Pearce, defender…STOCK EVEN — Wasn’t in the action enough to judge, but he has been playing very well lately.
Who knows what is going through Bob Bradley’s mind right now, but over the course of the last few weeks, he has had a few opportunities to evaluate a number of players that could make an impact on the World Cup. Of course not mentioned above are players like Landon Donovan, Tim Howard, Jozy Altidore, and Jonathan Spector…but that’s because they’re already locks to make the squad. Bradley also has several injuries to think about when selecting his team. USA stars Clint Dempsey, Oguchi Onyewu, and Charlie Davies are sure to make the team if they’re healthy in time for World Cup training. But again that “if” is a little scary. All accounts say that the three of them are all expected to finish rehabilitation in time. It will be interesting to see how well they recovery from their respective injuries.
Overall, a fair result today. If the USA team was honest with themselves, then they would admit they didn’t expect to go into Amsterdam and beat a Netherlands team that is stacked with top European talent. So a 2-1 result was just fine…and the fact that they were able to find the net once and almost twice is a good sign. Look for the USA to build on this loss as they move closer to their next two “friendlies” in late May against the Czech Republic and Turkey…both will be played stateside in Hartford, CT and Philadelphia, PA.