The U.S. was beaten 2-1 by Colombia in a friendly last week.
The game followed an all-too-familiar script.
The U.S. scored early, this time on a weak penalty kick by Jozy Altidore after a weak handball call by the ref, and then watched Colombia overrun its midfield and wings for the remainder of the game.
Predictably, when facing that much pressure, the U.S. cracked.
It was the third consecutive game in which the U.S. coughed up a lead.
But it was yet another against a good team in which the U.S. could do nothing to keep possession and relieve the heat on its defenders.
The U.S. reminds me of what’s called a Four-A player in baseball, someone who does very well against the equivalent of Class AAA teams, such as a few of those in the CONCACAF, and struggles against those that would be considered major league.
The problem won’t stop until the team can find pairs of central defenders and midfielders who can control the ball and deal with pressure. MLS Armchair Analyst Matthew Doyle charted that 18.6 percent of the passes by the U.S. against Colombia were “hoof and hope” longballs that were the equivalent of punts.
Opponents know that they only need to apply a little bit of heat to whomever has the ball before it will result in a giveaway.
It will be interesting to see what Jurgen Klinsmann does with the lineup for Tuesday’s game against Ireland.
Winners from the game
Greg Garza: He held his own against Colombia’s wingers and doesn’t seem to fazed by the level of competition.
Lee Nguyen: He only played a few minutes but showed creativity with a clever spinning pass to led to one of the team’s precious few threatening moves. That one glimpse, albeit a glimpse, is what the U.S. continues to lack in the midfield: vision and the courage to try stuff. Until more players develop those characteristics in the midfield, most games going forward are going to look like most of the games the U.S. has played: luck into a goal and then get overrun by the opposing team.
Kyle Beckerman: He did his best to control the U.S. attack, but he couldn’t do it by himself. The problem for the U.S. is Beckerman, because he is 32 years old, may have a tough time cracking the roster for the World Cup in 2018.
Losers from the game
Bobby Wood: Given another few minutes to make something happen and had one good shot, but the angle made it nearly impossible to be taken seriously.
Geoff Cameron: What does it say that Cameron, a mostly first-team player in previous years with Stoke City in the world’s most competitive league, still can’t get consistent minutes under Klinsmann as a central defender, right back or holding midfielder? Cameron is doing exactly what Klinsmann wants – proving himself in a tough league – and the manager still won’t make him an automatic starter. Combine that with Klinsmann’s two starting central defenders – Jermaine Jones who doesn’t play the position in MLS and John Brooks who isn’t getting much time with Hertha Berlin in Germany – and Klinsmann comes off looking like a flake who finds excuses to exclude certain players. Cameron is likely to play against Ireland after Klinsmann released some players such as Jones and Nguyen back to their club teams in MLS.
Mix Diskerud: The creativity Diskerud showed in previous matches was missing as Colombia simply went around him. His inability to maintain control of the ball killed the U.S.’s chances to preserving at least a tie.
Fabian Johnson: He was anonymous throughout the match, which was one of the reasons Colombia’s midfield ran roughshod.
Not surprisingly, England’s Premier League tops the list with an average salary of 2.2 million pounds per year, or $3.5 million dollars.
Somewhat surprisingly – and what may seem counterintuitive to Don Garber’s wish for MLS to be one of the world’s top leagues by 2022 – our domestic league comes in at No. 22 with an average salary of $214,000.
When the new, $90 million TV contract with ESPN, FOX and Univision kicks in, some of those dollars should flow to salaries, which will help draw more of the world’s talent to MLS and increase the possibility of fulfilling Garber’s wish.
FIFA: FIFA issues its ruling following the investigation into the bidding process that led to Russia getting the 2018 World Cup and 2022 event to Qatar.
Unpredictably, the investigator who wrote the report called FIFA’s findings “incomplete” and “erroneous” and promised to appeal the ruling … to FIFA. So, good luck with that.
Really, the only way to change FIFA at this point is for fans to boycott sponsors, take to social media to tell FIFA’s sponsors that change is needed, and to stop purchasing tickets. Short of that, FIFA seems to have no interest in accountability.