So after expecting to see some guys who are considered the second or third tier of players for the USMNT playing in a friendly match against a team we put into the World Cup, you might have expected a leisurely paced match. I sure didn't expect soft yellows and a very soft red card to leave the US stuck playing 10 vs. 12 (the official was clearly calling a one-sided match) for over 70 minutes. Now one might ask yourselves would an officiating crew from Mexico really be biased in a match? Of course they would, I think nothing was more clear than when Bornstein got kicked in the face right in front of the sideline official and not even a foul was called.
So aside from horrible officiating does this result mean anything? Sure it does, it means that there is a real lack of depth in most positions for the US, I would say that Wynne, Beckerman, Bornstein, Rogers, and Findley all showed enough to get a call up for the Feb. 24th match, but other than that I was sorely disappointed by the performance of most of the US players.
More thoughts after the jump
I believe it is the staff at US Soccer's job to identify and build up the levels and generations of talent to fill the US National team with players who compete at the highest level of soccer. I consider the performance to be a real testament to the failure of US Soccer and Bob Bradley. When you bring younger unfinished players into camp for a month you really should be working on furthering their skills and addressing their weaknesses, but based on the performance on Saturday night it sure doesn't look like that was accomplished very well.
I will use two examples: Marvell Wynne, has almost all the tools needed to become a regular fixture on the USMNT, his most glaring weakness in both league and national team play is his crossing ability. I saw nothing to indicate to me that anything was done to get him committed to crossing the ball or crossing it better. Robbie Findley, has the speed, heart, and ability to score that could make him a national team player for years to come, but he has a tough time with his first touch. Again, I saw nothing in his 90 minutes of play against Honduras that would indicate that his 4 weeks in camp with who are supposed to be the best coaches in the US soccer system have lead to any improvement in his first touch.
Now I wasn't at the practice sessions so maybe these things were addressed, but if they were, then it points to a larger issue which is the quality of coaching and skill development at the US national team level. When the injury to Clint Dempsey was rumored to have him missing the World Cup, panic hit almost every USMNT fan. Why, it is simple we have no depth at most positions, most importantly at offensive positions.
Not sure why Bradley chose to keep a guy in net who let more balls by him than he actually stopped, I get that bringing Rimando into camp was a gift, but you should have at least let him play a half after it was clear that DC United's continued issues in goals will not be resolved with Perkins.
It is clear that there are issues at US Soccer, and one has to wonder if they have fallen into a rut of being able to qualify for the Cup, with mild expectations of making it out of the group stage, and nothing more. They seem to be more obsessed with controlling their brand, than actually building the brand via great soccer. I find it hard to believe that the talent pool in the US is as shallow as it would appear to be after Saturday's result, we are a nation of 300 million people and by the looks of the USMNT only 30 can play soccer at an international level.
I believe the issue is that US Soccer isn't identifying the best talent at the youth levels and that the quality of coaching has got to be raised by leaps and bounds. Maybe everyone as US Soccer is so focused on the business of getting the World Cup back to our soil that they failed to realize that our team is in need of some real help, or is this their way of saying the only way we might be able to qualify in 2018 is by hosting the games?
OFF MY SOAPBOX