Will the whining please stop now? Bradley and his guys did absolutely everything they were supposed to do last night in beating Cuba. Was it a perfect performance? No, but it was easily a 9 out of 10 and that will work most of the time. My thoughts are after the jump.
- I was slightly concerned at the start to see such a conventional lineup out of Bradley. That said, the group wasted little time developing opportunities. I still don’t like single-striker formations, I think (especially when behind) it just makes it too tempting to lump balls in the direction of the single striker. Controlling the match the way they did, the US, to their credit, never had to worry about falling into that kind of trap.
- If the ole’ Beasley and Donovan combination can play at the level they did last night, and at the level we’ve seen them play in the past, the US is going to have a great base with which to find the perfect lineup going into the Hex and likely into 2010. Last night was like some of those nights during the last cycle with Donovan and Beasley just running the show in midfield. Again, was it perfect? No, at times I thought Donovan was too unselfish towards at the end, but as the US had a big lead and he was trying to get his teammate a hat trick, that’s a very small demerit indeed.
- I am not sure anyone can really be faulted for Cuba’s goal. That was a total thunderbolt by Munoz. I guess you could say Howard was napping but I am not so sure. Sometimes someone you don’t expect to do anything well, in fact does something great. It happens.
- Bradley is just shockingly inconsistent. You never know from touch-to-touch what he’s going to do. Is he going to complete an incisive pass forward? Is he going to gift the ball to the nearest opponent? Is he going to take a stupid yellow card? One never really knows with him.
- The good performances of the three young guns (Torres, Jozy and Freddy) last night will only make Bradley’s job harder. While I think it’s unlikely that Adu can muscle his way into the starting lineup right now, the other two have to think that if they play well enough, they could start. That will make the next two matches so interesting to watch.
- This is obvious, but the Cubans really are not any good. It’s sort of strange to see them in this context, because the country, sort of like Australia, is really good at all kinds of other sports. But soccer continues to elude them.
- ESPN barely mic’ed the fans. The tifo looked great, but ESPN’s audio made sound far quieter than the announcers said, and I suspect it was.