In Santander today, the U.S. Soccer Team fell to Spain 1-0. But for the first half at least, the U.S. looked dangerous and even capable of pulling out the win. It was markedly better than last week’s game against England. There were a couple of reasons for this:
1) Freddy Adu. Freddy has been so over-hyped for so long it’s sometimes hard to remember he’s only 18 and still on his way up. He has great touch on the ball and great vision; he was able to control the midfield for stretches in the first half–and against a team as good as Spain that’s impressive. He’s a wee one though, and you have to wonder about his durability. He was subbed at the half, presumable after picking up a knock. Freddy needs to strength-train until he’s a compact rock like Edgar Davids in his prime. He should also be on our first-11 moving forward. Finding a way to pair him with Landon Donovan is key to any successful attacking play as the U.S. moves towards South Africa 2010.
2) Maurice Edu. Mo is poised. Where our other center midfielders (Clark and Bradley) tend to freak out under pressure, Edu was able to hold possession or even turn into space. It was reminiscent of Reyna at his best. He also kept popping up in key positions to stymie Spanish build-ups and seemed the least tired of our midfielders at the end. If Mo plays like this, he should be center midfielder option #1.
The second half was actually pretty bad, but Eddie Johnson did blow a very good chance to put the U.S. on top. I think Eddie’s role should be late-game sub once the team’s at full-strength. You do have to wonder how much effort the Spaniards were putting forth with the Euros set to begin this weekend. Questions remain about who should play up top for the U.S.–questions unlikely to be resolved anytime soon. At least with news of Jozy Altidore’s move to Villareal, things are looking up.
Next up – Argentina. Let’s see who Coach Bob trots out there in the final tune-up for the qualifiers. I hope to see Altidore, Cooper, Rogers, Parkhurst, and Orozco get some time, but would settle for 2-3 of them (and I still can’t believe Parkhurst won’t be called in).