The U.S. opened World Cup Qualifying in pouring rain Friday night with a dominant, one-sided, match against an under matched squad representing Antigua and Barbuda in Tampa.
Although the U.S. controlled possession virtually the entire game and were rarely threatened, the game left you feeling that they could put a few more points on the scoreboard.
The U.S. came out again in a 4-3-3 formation with Dempsey up top with Donovan and Gomez. At left back, Klinsmann started Jose Torres in place of the injured Fabian Johnson.
The U.S. completely controlled possession in the first half. At times the U.S. was attacking with left back Torres and right back Cherundolo leaving the U.S. in basically a 2-5-3 formation. Antigua and Barbuda organized every player on the field behind the U.S. attack to try and clog the passing lanes which left the Americans searching for the perfect pass.
U.S. Captain Carlos Bocanegra put the American squad on top 1-0 in the 8th minute after putting away a rebound off a a Hercules Gomez header from a Donovan corner kick. After Donovan was taken down in the penalty area, Clint Dempsey converted a PK to put the U.S. up 2-0 right before the half.
The U.S. was forced to sub out Jose Torres after he suffered a bad bone bruise on a questionable tackle. Oguchi Onyewu entered the game as Bocanegra moved out left. Onyewu was torched by Antigua and Barbuda's all-time leading scorer Peter Byers as he put the underdog on the board in the 65th. The defensive lapse by Onyewu comes on the heels of a few questionable performances by the center back in the friendlies leading up to this game.
The U.S. final goal came from the foot of Hercules Gomez after a scramble in front of the goal. The hard work of Gomez in the front of the net has been refreshing for the Americans and we are all starting to see why he has been such a prolific goal scorer in the Mexican league the last few years.
MY THREE TAKEAWAYS
1. For the love.....SHOOT! The U.S. out shot Antigua and Barbudo 19-7 but the U.S. should have had more. At times the U.S. seemed to be looking for the perfect pass when they probably could have benefited from a shot from distance. At the half, Klinsmann stated that he wanted to see the U.S. take some cracks from distance and when they did it resulted in some long rebounds and action in front of the net. That said, far too many opportunities were squandered with a pass getting intercepted by a stingy, compact, defense. Simply put, the boys need to become a tad selfish as they get closer to goal.
2. Th story of former L.A. Galaxy striker Hercules Gomes is truly remarkable. Gomez has the potential to make a giant impact on this squad. He is fast, under control, and a legitimate threat up top. His time in Mexico has served him well and he should be a big part of the U.S. attack moving forward.
3. Defense....With the injury to Torres it will be interesting to see who Klinsmann starts against Guatemala. I believe that Geoff Cameron should get the nod in the middle with Bocanegra sliding out left. Although Cameron had the own-goal vs. Scotland, he is a shut down defender with great passing ability. I believe the more playing time he gets with the USMNT the more comfortable he will be. The talent is there. He just needs a chance. Unfortunately Onyewu just doesn't look comfortable. He was torched on the Byers goal and simply doesn't look fast enough right now. I am still hoping that Omar Gonzalez can recover from injury and help this team at some point but for now I think Cameron is the best option moving forward.
Bring on Guatemala!