The picture I found of the only goal of tonight’s match sums up the night well: players are slipping, off-balance and a bit unsure. Michael Bradley’s goal was not a thing of beauty, but it earned the US a gritty win in Europe against a respectable opponent that has recent wins over Argentina and Austria. After these types of games you often hear words like effort, grind, battle, and commitment. What made the US successful on this night is that those attributes could be used to describe all of the players in blue, front to back. The effort was never lacking. Tackles were firm and sure. There weren’t many moments that any creativity slipped in, but there were not any disasters either. Bocanegra ably captained the side, especially leading the backline to another shutout. He was a standout as was Cherundolo. Former Maryland Terp and current Toronto FC rookie Maurice Edu earned his first cap. He fit right into the team. I don’t see much that separates the other young, burgeoning crop of defensive midfielders that Bradley has run out in prior matches this year. I hope to see more of him during the Olympics.
Freddy Adu made his second appearance with the full team, coming on for the last 15 minutes or so. He changed the game in an instant, using his first touch to put Cherundolo through with a clever backheel. In less than 20 minutes, he narrowly missed a goal after perfectly timing a run behind the tiring Swiss defense; he drew a foul 20 yards from goal and put the resulting shot on target; and he was unlucky not to draw a penalty when he was kicked in the face while storming toward the goal again behind the Swiss defense. You could not have asked Adu to do any more in his limited minutes. His skill and willingness to try the audacious makes him a weapon. I’m not sure where he’ll fit in in Bradley’s lineup. Perhaps the answer is behind another forward with carte blanche. I’d like to see what he could do.
Like usual, Bradley did a lot of work for the team. He was more influential in the second half when he and the US got a hold of the ball more. On the goal, Edu played a smart ball wide to fellow first-time capwinner Danny Szetela. Szetela fired in a low cross that Dempsey kneed toward the goal. Bradley cleaned it up by sweeping it past the Swiss ‘keeper with a slight side-foot volley. It was all the US needed.