The United States Men’s National Soccer Team played to a 2-2 draw against Poland at Soldiers Field in Chicago on Saturday night, October 9. It was a fair result, as the teams seemed equally matched, and while it was an entertaining game to watch, for a fan of U.S. soccer it was frustrating. Poland has not been a strong team recently, and the United States, even without the MLS guys like the very talented Landon Donovan, should have been better.
What would the team do without Tim Howard, who saved the game over and over? He has some good support. It was really nice to see Oguchi Onyewu playing again. I never figured out why he didn’t play in the last game of the world Cup. If I remember, it was something like the fact that coach Bob Bradley didn’t think he was 100 percent, but 75 percent of Onyewu beats lots of other players at full strength. Even in his role as defender, he managed to score a goal against Poland.
As a typical fan, I have my favorite players, in addition to the obvious one, Tim Howard. Carlos Bocanegra is a dedicated player who understands the game and can lead and inspire the team. I was so sorry he went to play in France, as I miss seeing him on the English games on television, and not just because he was listed over the summer as one of the sexiest men in soccer. Clint Dempsey is one of my favorites because he has hustle. He never gives up. While he may not be as skillful as some players, he puts his whole heart, and body, into the game and comes up with some surprising goals. Two players who could be favorites if Bradley gave them decent playing time are Torres and Gomes who play in Mexico. Both could add some skill to the team if given the opportunity.
The question for the United States team is the same one year after year. Where is a great striker going to come from? Tim Howard can handle the goal at his end, but who is going to score goals at the other end? Landon Donovan is our best scorer, but he could use a world class striker to play up front. Jozy Altidore just isn’t going to do it. He does score goals, but he misses too many good opportunities. He tries to make up with muscle what he lacks in skill.
The U.S. Soccer website quoted Bob Bradley explaining why he is pleased to bring in Eric Lichaj who was born in Chicago of Polish parents. He said Lichaj is physically strong, has good speed and good power. Notice that he did not mention skill. If a player has the speed and power, like Altidore, to plow through the field, he still needs to have the ball skills to pass the ball accurately or score. Jermaine Jones is German born player who may help the team, but he has just been added, too.
Could the team play better with a more creative coach who isn’t set in his ways as to who to play and where? Who knows, but watching them play, I can’t help but wonder and daydream about what Jurgen Klinsmann could have done if he had been given the chance.