My thoughts on the Honduras match and where we’re headed:
1.) Jozy is the real-deal. Jozy played the best game I’ve ever seen him play. He was clearly inspired by Chuck D’s injuries and was ready to take it out on the Ticos. He was remarkable, and he’s improved dramatically since he started playing for Hull. Last night, I noticed that his first touch is much improved, and now he can hold the ball up top by himself much like a Didier Drogba-type player. He’s not as good as Dider….yet….but he’s headed in that direction.
2.) Connor Casey is not the answer as a viable partner with Jozy. I know Mallrats scored twice against Honduras, and although he did display a pretty move in getting around the defender and the goalkeeper with the 2nd goal, his first goal was kind of a fluke. All reports I found on the game indicated that he played like balls in the first half of that game, and several analysts were shocked that he wasn’t removed at halftime. He gets the start again against the Ticos, and he promptly biffed a couple of wide-open chances. He’s simply outclassed at the international level. He may be a good poor-man’s solution for now, but we can’t seriously expect to do well at the World Cup with him as our other striking option. His first touch is poor, he’s out of position a lot, and his finishing ability last night was generally substandard. We need to keep looking because the World Cup is a lot better quality than the MLS.
3.) JF Torres is the freakin’ man! He played well against El Salvador and I’ve been clamoring for him to get more PT ever since Sacha started playing like balls. As soon as JFT got into the game last night, it was like a different team was on the pitch. Feilhaber played like balls, but when Torres was put into the match, they ran the offense through him much like the Olympic Team ran their offense through Kljestan. His distribution was spot-on, he’s deadly with set pieces (especially corners), he’s fast, and he always seems to be in the right place at the right time. He clearly needs to be on the field more often, and although his natural position is CMF, maybe because of the Chuck D situation we might want to give him a look as Jozy’s partner up-top.
4.) If JFT plays up-top with Jozy, we need a creative central midfielder like him to fill in that role. As super fan #16, I will point out that Sacha Kljestan is once again dominating in the MLS. Maybe it’s time to bring him back and put him alongside MB90….Just a thought…..I think Feilhaber is a streaky player and last night he demonstrated what happens when he hits a cold streak. We can’t afford any streakiness next summer, as it was clear last night that having a creative role at CMF is critical to our offense.
5.) MB90 finally pulled his weight. As the member of TYAC that has been most critical of MB90, I have to acknowledge that he played a really good game last night, especially when Torres was in the match. I think that’s what we need out of him – a creative presence in the midfield that he can feed off of. Last night was the best I’ve seen him play in a really long time, and if he demonstrates more of that, I will come off of my nepotism rants.
6.) Bob Bradley finally showed me something to warrant his employment. I’m not ready to endorse Bobbo yet – far from it. However, last night he gave me glimpses that he might be human instead of a robot. He displayed emotion, and although I disagree with several significant tactical decisions (why not put Rogers in for Mallrats instead of Holden who was having a nice game? Why did you start Mallrats to begin with? Why doesn’t Chinger play anymore? What about Hejduk? Why are you still starting Bornstein?), he clearly wanted to win the game.
7.) This Gooch thing is bad. Neil today was like “this is a Yakubu special….4 months off, this is awesome.” I think he’s wrong though. Gooch’s timing has been off since he went to AC, and last night was the worst I’ve seen him look since ’06. Then, he gets hurt, and now he’s going to be rehabbing for the next 4 months. Will he be the same player he was when he returns? We need him back, and we need to pray that his rehab goes well. I’ve had a patella injury – these things are very finicky, and these injuries linger. DeMerit needs to get better because a World Cup where Chad Marshall is our center back scares me. I like Chad Marshall….but just say this out loud: we’re matching up against David Villa and Fernando Torres with Carlos Bocanegra and Chad Marshall. That just doesn’t sound good….
8.) Jon Bornstein is NOT the answer at left-back. I know he scored (everyone does), but the rest of his game was terrible. He’s not that good at positioning himself defensively and his service (which is what he’s supposed to be good at) is marginal at best. I like that he tries hard, I like that he cares, but he’s really the Ron Zook of left-backs. Sometimes even Zook beat a team he wasn’t supposed to or did something great when no one expected him to. We need a better option back there. Cherundolo played pretty well after the first 20 minutes last night. Because he’s been hurt, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt with those 20 minutes as a “shaking the rust off” period.
9.) Stu Holden is a really nice player. I really like him coming off the bench in S. Africa next summer. I think there’ll be a game in group play where we’re down 1-0, we have to tie to advance, and in the 65th minute, we need an energetic spark. I think Holden’s going to be the guy.
I think that’s about all. The question now is, where do we go from here? JFT needs to play, I’m not giving up on Kljestan, and MB90 had a good game. Casey’s pretty bad, Bornstein is a nice story, but he’s probably not a good long-term solution. Our best field player, Gooch, is out for awhile. His backup, DeMerit is also out. Our best striker is out for a long while. Bobbo showed me something last night, but we need more of it. We still need to tinker, we still need to find combinations that work, and we still have to try to put new players into the mix. Jermaine Jones and Edgar Castillo should get looks. Mo Edu (where was he) probably needs to be on the roster. Bobbo took a good first step last night amidst terrible adversity to squeak out of DC with a tie. Bobbo, you need to continue to lead your team like you did last night and you need to keep thinking tactically. I don’t really have an answer for him, but I’m not the coach. Bradley needs to realize that this whole thing can come crashing down at any second, and he needs to continue to think critically tactically to prevent this.