The USMNT thumped Trinidad & Tobago 6-0 in the Gold Cup Saturday night allowing all the shills at Fox Sports to go nuts about how this was a “statement game” and that the US is back.
Calling this a statement win just shows how far the US has fallen in recent years. It’s the Gold Cup, it’s Trinidad & Tobago, it’s at home. Even with what happened in 2017 the US should win this game 6-0. It shouldn’t be anything to celebrate. It should be routine.
It’s unfortunately not routine because US Soccer has been so terribly managed over the past three years. Declaring them back after one game is also foolish. They’re not back until they’re picking up these results at home against CONCACAF minnows consistently. Anything less than a 4-0 win over Panama Wednesday night would show that they aren’t consistently there yet.
As I’ve said before, and as I’ve discussed with friends, the appointment of Gregg Berhalter, his roster decisions, and the overall performances under him have made that really difficult. We want to get into this team, we want to get into the Gold Cup, but it’s become very difficult to get back into US Soccer. They gotta earn that trust back.
Saturday night was a good start. There was a lot of positive to take from it. Chrisitan Pulisic had his best game for club or country in ages.He and Weston McKennie showed that they are a complete level above everyone else in CONCACAF.
Aaron Long showed he could he a threat going forward on set pieces. Jordan Morris, after dealing with injuries for the past year, came on and completely changed the game (whether he can do that against legit international teams and not just CONCACAF minnows remains to be seen).
The US won 6-0 in a game where Trinidad rarely threatened. It was as close to the routine win the US should have gotten as you could expect. That doesn’t mean it was all perfect.
With about 10 minutes to go, commentator Stu Holden* – who is quickly becoming the biggest US Soccer shill and #2 Fox blowhard behind Alexi Lalas – said he couldn’t find anything negative to say about the performance?
Stu, are you blind?
Prior to the Gold Cup the biggest story around the USMNT was Gregg Berhalter’s decision to leave teenage striker Josh Sargent off the roster. Despite winning 6-0 Saturday night, Gyasi Zardes and Jozy Altidore proved that the US still has a massive problem at striker.
Zardes scored two goals Saturday night, one on a tap in and one on a very nice curled shot. But that’s all he did.
Holden, who was looking for any thing or reason to heap praise onto Zardes went with these tired lines (I’m paraphrasing). “Strikers are ultimately judged on putting the ball in the net and he’s done that, and he may not be finishing but he’s getting these chances showing he’s in the right spot and he’ll eventually put them away.”
I’m sorry but those are the same recycled lines you say when trying to praise a striker who sucks. Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez puts the ball in the net and no one in Europe ever confuses him with being a good striker.
Zardes squandered chance after chance Saturday night. Had he scored twice on three or four chances that’d be a good night and there would be nothing to say. But he missed a lot more than that. I’d love to tell you exactly how many he missed but eventually I lost count.
On one sequence he missed THREE chances – a tap in where he hit the post, a header where the keeper made a nice save, and then he skied a shot over the bar on his strong foot from about 10 yards out. That was after he scored his first two goals and his confidence was high.
Paul Arriola also missed a bunch of chances. The difference is Arriola did a hell of a job of creating those chances for himself. Zardes didn’t create anything, his teammates did all of the creating for him. His job was to simply finish. He didn’t.
Because it was the team doing all the creation, any good striker would have been getting the same chances. Any decent striker would have finished a few them. I can’t even tell you how may goals Romelu Lukaku would have had.
Defender Aaron Long scored two goals Saturday night. Both of them were poachers goals, both were very good finishes. Those were his only chances of the game. You’re almost tempted to say that had Long started at striker and just simply been in the right spot he’d have scored four or five goals.
Those who defend the guy will be quick to call me a hater and point out that Zardes has three goals this tournament. Not a bad return! But those three goals came on a tap in, a nice shot, and a clearance that hit him in the face and went into the net.
Fortunately for Zardes (and unfortunately for the US), when Jozy Altidore replaced him with 20 minutes to go the US striker play only got worse.
Despite coming on when the US was running rampant over Trinidad Altidore rarely got involved. His touch was awful. He wasn’t getting in the box. He couldn’t create space for himself and worst of all he was missing very simple wide open 6-12 yard passes. That’s almost impressive to pass that poorly when you’re not under any pressure at all.
The US won 6-0. That’s a good thing and now Fox gets to pump their “the USMNT is back rhetoric.”
But make no mistake, if the US can’t see from that game that they have a real striker problem then they’re going to be in a lot of trouble when they start playing real teams.