USA-El Salvador: Don't Let USA's Comeback Fool You

Jason ChaeContributor IMarch 29, 2009

COMMERCE CITY, CO - NOVEMBER 19:  Jozy Altidore #14 of the USA controls the ball against Guatemala during their semifinal round FIFA World Cup qualifier match at Dick's Sporting Goods Park on November 19, 2008 in Commerce City, Colorado. USA defeated Guatemala 2-0.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

The U.S. National Team came back from a hostile away crowd two goals down to walk away with a draw and actually had a couple chances late in the game to win. While they saved themselves from what would have been an embarrassing loss, don't let the comeback fool you to believe anything else but this:

The United States Men's National Team is not playing good soccer right now. 

Yes, they beat Mexico over a month ago, with another 2-0 result. However, that had more to do with Mexico being in worse form than the Americans right now.  Don't get me wrong, the United States is still the king of CONCACAF. 

Mexico has been awful as of late, and while the U.S. hasn't been that bad, they aren't playing well. Being the king of CONCACAF isn't what I want from this team. I want to see them make noise in the Confederations Cup.

Or at least advance to the knockout stages in the 2010 World Cup, where anything can happen when it turns into single elimination play. The way this team is playing right now, we'd be lucky to get a point in either event. 

The United States soccer philosophy has long been flawed. The game's early inception in this country was influenced by the English and Germans. You can see it still heavily influences our tactics today.

From the over reliance on the long ball and fighting over 50-50 balls in the box to the lack of creativity or freedom allowed on the field. Ironic that with the Latin influence that has risen in this country, the U.S. has not incorporated it into their style of soccer. 

We need to develop and encourage players to beat their man off the dribble, not attempt a weak cross that gets picked off. 

The Americans got punched in the mouth for 70 some minutes yesterday, and it wasn't until the inclusion of Jozy Altidore and Jose Torres that they showed any sign of life. 

Altidore and Torres although playing the least minutes except for Maurice Edu, ended up being the best players for the U.S. last night. I think this should convince Bob Bradley you don't need to play club games to play in the international level. 

Which I'm confused at why DaMarcus Beasley continues to play even though he has lost his spot in Rangers, but players like Altidore and Freddy Adu are either relegated to the bench or do not dress.

While the whole Adu and his lack of playing time on a French team that isn't good, is a mystery, there are signs that say he deserves to be played. He impressed Claudio Ranieri in a January friendly against Juventus.

He was one of the bright spots when he started in the friendly against Spain last summer. Simply put, he is one of our few creative attacking options and he should start getting his chances in games that matter.  

Bob Bradley needs to shake things up in the lineup. Sasha Kljestan needs to be benched in favor of Torres, he has been brutal in possession and passing in his last few games, I don't see how the pace and passing skills of Torres aren't a better option at this point.

No more Heath Pearce either, he can't pass either and looked very slow yesterday. I don't know why Jonathon Spector can't get a shot at becoming the starter at left back. He plays on a much better team and league than Pearce.

On the other side of the field, I think it's clear Frankie Hejduk is not the answer. I like Hejudk, he's had a very good MLS career and him drinking and tailgating with the Columbus Crew in the parking lot when he suspended this past season was classic.

A guy like that is just what the MLS needs. But I just don't think he's an above average player when it comes to the international level. Yes, he did have the game tying goal, but he also was responsible for the second goal by El Salvador and he also looked slow throughout the match. 

When he started to attack more he did play better but against good South American and European teams, Hejduk is going to get burned.

Altidore also needs to start in front of Ching. Or you could pair them together and move Donovan to the central attacking midfielder role.

Ching did seem to play better when Altidore was inserted into the game, although he missed two wide open chances late.  Ching has had a good MLS career and he can be decent on the international stage. But nothing about his performances have been game altering. 

If the U.S. insists on using a target man, why not put Altidore in that role?  At least he is a more versatile striker and can create attacking opportunities Ching can't.

Again it was a nice accomplishment to come back from two goals down against an away crowd that looked crazy and intense, but this wasn't a good performance by the Americans. 

In fact, like I said earlier, Ching had two open chances to basically steal the game for the U.S., except it hit it right at the goalie and defender instead of the open areas of net. 

The most valuable player for the U.S. would then have been the backup goalkeeper that entered the game when El Slavador's starter got injured. He ran out at everything and then would weakly punch at the ball. I had no clue what was going through that guys mind. 

He was kind of hung out to dry in the first goal, but the way he came out for that corner in the second goal was inexcusable. 

Again, I'm not satisfied with just being the top team in CONCACAF. With all the money and resources that have been put into the U.S. Soccer program over the past decade, it's about time the team makes noise internationally.

Playing like the way they did yesterday is going to get us nowhere in preparation for next years World Cup.


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