It’s not as if I’m going to complain over a 3-0 win in a final-round World Cup qualifier. I know some folks might be tempted to for various reasons – or just because Bob Bradley is the coach, and he could win every game 10-0 and somehow, he’d be doing something that made people react like someone just blew up a Cabbage Patch kid in a Toys ‘R Us at Christmas time. Sorry, I’m not one of those people.
The main headline from last night, of course, is the hat trick for Jozy Altidore. The second goal I think was the most impressive to me, where he seemed to find a little extra gear right at the end, put the perfect touch on the ball, then blasted the shot home. That’s just quallity play and it does leave you wondering how he can’t any consistent minutes at the club level. Such a big, powerful force has to be in the US lineup at every opportunity. That’s not meant to slight the other forwards in the USMNT pool, etc., but Altidore has an excellent skill set and the frame to really be dangerous. The US needs that kind of danger in the lineup at all times.
I didn’t have a problem with Bradley’s move to put Beasley at left back. It certainly could have been a lightning rod had the US given a goal or two, or had Trinidad and Tobago actually gotten a positive result. But based on the quality of the two teams and past meetings on American soil, Bradley had to think that if there was ever a time to try such a move, last night was the time and it was fine.
The only troubling thing from my perspective was that the US seemed to unnecessarily fade in and out of the game. I texted a friend who was in the stands in Nashville just before halftime, saying that the US needed to get the second goal, because Trinidad was ready to submit. It took too long for that to happen. There was one excellent save in that stretch by Ince in the Trinidad goal, but the US seemed content at times to roll along at 1-0, and that won’t ever be a good idea against better competition in more hostile environments.
Awesome stuff for the game to draw nearly 30,000 fans in Nashville. No, I don’t think MLS should go about putting a team there right away or anything, but I saw some doom and gloomers predicting this game would draw less than 20,000. They got a good number, and that’s excellent.
The US is at Costa Rica next, a place where the team will definitely need to play consistent, solid soccer for 90 minutes to get a good result. Costa Rica held off El Salvador last night, 1-0. Then it’s home in Chicago vs. Honduras – who thrashed Mexico last night, 3-1. All three home teams won their matches in CONCACAF. At that point, we’ll already be halfway through the final round, and just about a year away from the 2010 World Cup.
Here’s a glimpse at the table through 3 of 10 rounds in the Hex:
1) USA 7 points, +5 GD
2) CRC 6 pts., +1 GD
3) HON, 4 pts., 0 GD
4) MEX, 3 pts, -2 GD
5) ELS, 2 pts, -1 GD
6) TRI, 2 pts, -3 GD