Bob Bradley is starting to worry me. I have defended the decision to hire him* and his subsequent performance until I was hoarse, but yesterday’s dreadful friendly performance against England pissed me off.
Before I go on, lemme just say that I do not care that the US lost. The result doesn’t matter. What matters is that the US developed no attack whatsoever. Josh Wolff put in one of the most ineffective performances I have ever seen from a USMNT forward. Ricardo Clark only has one discernible skill (fouling) and Bocanegra is making Fulham decision to bin him look mighty intelligent. But I shouldn’t rank on Boca and the defense too much, if only because they looked like world beaters compared to the attack.
This two d-mid stuff has to stop. It’s not as if our defense is that effective with them, but it’s clear our attack is entirely useless (as in, let’s just stand around and wait for Landon to do something) without another attack-minded player out there. How Bradley didn’t start Freddy yesterday boggles the mind. If nothing else, he is at least an aggressive attacking player. Sure he dribbles into cul-de-sacs, isn’t very strong, and has a ego, but at least he will try and get this team moving down the field. That’s more than I can say for half the guys out there. I mean, our performance was so bad, it has agreeing with Paul Gardner, for goodness sakes.
The only difference between the recent performances of Bob Bradley’s USA against Poland and Switzerland, and the display against England yesterday, was that the USA won the first two games. Yesterday it lost, thereby exposing the truth that all three games featured a side that is virtually devoid of attacking ideas.
A side that, evidently, sinks from sort-of-OKish to definite mediocrity when Landon Donovan doesn’t play. At Wembley, the lineup said that Josh Wolff was playing up front. Throughout the first half the poor guy was invisible, no service at all. TV commentator JP Dellacamera suggested, at the 15 minute mark, that Eddie Johnson — supposedly Wolff’s attacking partner — had just had his first touch of the ball.
The old curmudgeon is exactly right. To me, the solution to the torpidity is playing Freddy Adu either in the no. 10 position or as a withdrawn forward all the time, not just when Donovan is hurt. He has skills and vision like few in American soccer have and that means, that despite his weaknesses, he must be playing and not sitting.
Bradley has found a boring, defensive formula that will get us to the World Cup in 2010. It will do that. But he needs to prove this team can present an attacking threat that will do more than poke around for set pieces and screw-ups by the opposition defense. Against Argentina and Spain, I need to see this team get more than one or two chances per half or else I too am going to join the call of folks calling for Bradley’s head. That England team yesterday was not nearly as good as we made them look. Of course, Argentina is an even better outfit, but we should be able to do two things against them:
- Hold on to possession in a manner that allows our defense to be able to rest, be in the right positions and be under siege for 5-10 min periods
- Challenge the opposition goalkeeper more than twice each half. They don’t have to go in, necessarily, but they have to make the keeper work.
If we can’t do those two things over the next two matches, I am going to have a big problem with Bob.
* I have primarily defended that decision because of who else was available. Once Klinsmann said no, what other options were available? I thought Houllier would have been an awful decision (and one prone to defensive slopball as well) and beyond him, who was would’ve come here?