The USMNT held off the Czech Republic 1-0 Tuesday night in Prague in their first action since the loss to Belgium in the World Cup this past summer. The game honestly lacked for much excitement for the first 65-70 minutes minus the only goal scored by Alejandro Bedoya. (I may have nodded off for 5 minutes in the first half)
A few thoughts on the game/team:
1) The attacking trio of Altidore, Green, and Gyan was lacking in creativity and opportunities. I was excited to see Gyan play for the first time and think he could be a valuable asset down the road as he gains more experience on the team. He was strong with the ball and dynamic at times but overall the trio were not nearly as productive in creating opportunities in the final third.
2) Diskerud and Bedoya played well in the center mid. The two (and mostly a blunder by Cech) led to the only goal scored in the game. Diskerud’s shot was parried by after Cech’s distribution put his center back under pressure and his parry on the ensuing shot by Diskerud was finished by Bedoya.
3) Fabian Johnson has become a high class quality outside back. His ability to read the game both offensively and defensively is outstanding. A couple of times Johnson was able to clean up some breakdowns by different players on the field and he also is a great presence streaking down the flank to maintain possession or attack down the wing.
4) I don’t think any major questions were answered with regards to who will takeover for Tim Howard. Brad Guzan is slated in the position for now and wasn’t tested much in the first half. Nick Rimando made a couple of great reaction saves in the second half but was really more exposed due to the inexperience all over the field in front of him. Time will tell to see who Howard will have to unseat when he returns in 2015.
5) Maybe the biggest news of the game was Klinsmann’s bold prediction/goal of making the semi-final in the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The optimist fan in me wants to completely buy into that prediction. I believe in Klinsmann and think he is doing great things with US Soccer but the realist in me doesn’t see any way. Yes we had a chance to beat Belgium (Damn you Wondo!)… but overall we were still out classed in that game. I don’t see the players in the program that are going to really elevate our status into the elite class of teams in the world cup.