I have delayed writing this post in hopes that I would make time to watch the match a second time because it is often difficult to synthesize observations made in tense situations. Yes, watching a game does qualify as a tense situation. 4-1 is an unflattering scoreline. 3-1 would have been fair. The US competed for 60 minutes. Argentina was definitely the better team, but we knew that going in. Argentina brought a full-strength squad whereas the US gave two players (Wynne & Gomez) their first caps and many of the players Bradley played are still finding their legs in the international game (Feilhaber, Bornstein, Twellman, Mapp, Demerit, Clark). Argentina is thirsty to end their 14-year cup drought; the US is giving its young players experience after capturing the Gold Cup one week ago.
Only Bornstein, Feilhaber and Olsen had good games. The game changed when Olsen was subbed around the 60th minute. Wynne looked much better when he had Olsen covering him. He looked like he was in over his head once Gaven came in and floundered. Any time a player is new to the international stage you hear about the adjustment to the speed of play that is required. Interestingly, the players introduced are known for their pace but it is not sheer pace that takes adjusting to. The Argentina players don’t necessarily run faster, but they play faster and think faster than any players the US has faced this year. What impressed me about the three players I mentioned is that they seemed to be playing at that same pace. Playing the top teams in the world is only going to make the US program stronger. It is disappointing to see a solid 60 minutes spoiled by 3 goals in 30 minutes, but maybe it will serve better to remind the young squad what is required to succeed at the highest level.
I am anxious to see how the US will respond in their match against Uruguay tonight and what squad Bradley will run out. In the Gold Cup, 21 different players started the first two matches.
One interesting tidbit: I read that Juan Sebastian Veron is in negotiations with MLS and he told an unnamed US player as much.