How much of Torres and Adu will we see tonight?
I’ve spent plenty of time this week haranguing folks out there for amping up the expectations on the USA way too high based on the result in San Salvador.
Tonight’s match is different. As the NYT says, with a loss, the USA could easily find itself in fourth place and out of the automatic qualification positions. I think that would be the first time the US has sat outside the qualification spots since before the 1998 World Cup.
Of course, if the US was to lose at home to Trinidad, every question and doubt ever lobbed at Bob Bradley will suddenly appear a lot more valid. A loss to T&T at home would be an utter disaster because it would, with a single stroke, undermine almost all the good work Bradley and the USA have done during his tenure. It wouldn’t undermine it fatally, but it certainly would wound the competency balance that Bradley has built up amongst most fans in the country.
Before you start biting your nails too much, here are some good things to remember.
- The USA has not lost at home to a CONCACAF opponent since the 2001 loss to Honduras at RFK, 51 matches ago.
- Under Bradley the USA is:
- 15-0-1 at the half when leading, which means we aren’t blowing leads
- 1-2-1 when losing at the half, which means that more than 50% of the time, we’ve taken points despite being down at halftime. This shows both the strength of this team’s character and fitness.
- We have not lost to a Caribbean team at home since 1969.
- The US comfortably beat Trinidad in their only meaningful matchup from the third round of qualifying, 3-0, in Chicago.
In other words, it should go okay tonight. In terms of the team selection, I suspect we’ll see a fairly conventional lineup until the US takes a comfortable lead. I hope Pearce is sat in favor of almost anyone including Beasley or Bornstein. I would love for Torres to see 90 minutes but I doubt it will happen.
Prediction: 3-1, USA