What a game! What a weird, wonderful, and at times frightening game! Some will claim the USA turned back the clock about 30 years with a gritty, ugly, gut-check win. Some will note that Juergen’s tactics and substitutions pretty much worked to a T. And down at the Dublin Pub, with most of our YMCA U8 Soccer Team looking on (occasionally), we were starting to get a very bad feeling when Ghana continued to whip in crosses and come closer with their outside blasts. The tying goal seemed inevitable… And then Graham Zusi to John Brooks…
Juergen’s success with his subs continues… With Germany’s pasting of Portugal, the Group of Death suddenly seems navigable – even with the injuries. So on to five points about this opening World Cup Win…
- The Defense defended very well, with the centerbacks making the reads and winning the vital balls. If you thought DaMarcus Beasley had a rough day, then you’re wrong. He got caught too far forward maybe once? But they could get around him and had to resort to speculative crosses or turning inside where Jermaine Jones was ready to destroy. That was the plan. Special props to Kyle ‘The Human Shield’ Beckerman directly in front of the back line.
- Jermaine Jones was our MotM: Talk about stepping up to pressure. Mr. Jones was everywhere, not backing down, breaking things up, and matched the Ghanaian hacking tackles with his own hard tackling. He did this without losing his marbles (though he came very close). He was also effective passing the ball and got Dempsey started in the first minute.
- Bradley needs to play better. Michael Bradley was a little off. Was it the reckless Ghanaian pressure? The injuries robbing him of outlets? If you would have told us beforehand Bradley would have an off game offensively, we wouldn’t have liked our chances. He still tackled and clogged the middle well defensively. Surely he will be better this Sunday.
- Getting a result without your two best forwards? How again? Jozy’s injury really affected the game, the ability of the US to relieve pressure and counter. When Dempsey’s nose got broken, the team lost their next best hold-up option (because Clint struggled the rest of the game). We have to assume Jozy will be out for at least the next game and possibly longer – so hopefully Clint and his nose are ready.
- Roster depth tests ahead. Graham Zusi and John Brooks came up huge, but there are roster tests ahead. How long can the stalwarts hold out in the Amazon? It sure would be nice to have another big forward (Terrence Boyd anyone?) to fill for Jozy. Portugal will have to come forward quickly and pressure for goals. The next game would be perfect for a certain player, a guy with the quickness, intelligence, and quality to pick the right moment and spot to counter. A guy willing to track back and defend when needed… Oh, you thought we were referring to Brad Davis or Julian Green, maybe?