If you talk about the U.S. man who “needed to be better” on a ragged and poor Friday night in Jamaica, you darn well need to say which one.
That is a long (and undistinguished) list.
So, let’s get started. Here are my five … in no particular order.
Jurgen Klinsmann’s hands were tied to a point. No Landon Donovan, no Michael Bradley, no Steve Cherundolo. (No Carlos Bocanegra, either, but that was a manager’s decision.)
Still, the arrangement and way forward Friday just wasn’t right.
Clint Dempsey wasn’t up for being the “1” in a 4-3-1-2. Especially not with a trio behind him like Friday’s. Did anybody seriously believe that Maurice Edu, Jermaine Jones and Kyle Beckerman could pass and interchange with enough fluidity to create the channels into Dempsey? And was Dempsey really expected to be sharp enough to find Jozy Altidore and Herculez Gomez in good spots.
Never mind that even when he’s on top of things, that’s not Dempsey’s game. He’s the guy who slashes and dashes and arrives late in the box, not a pace dictator and creator for others. He requires a passer and possession man around him – someone like Bradley.
There was zero width in the attack. And looking at the lineup, that should have been predictable.
Herculez Gomez keeps demonstrating why he’s ahead of Jozy Altidore in the pecking order. Altidore had a great season of goal scoring at AZ Alkmaar last year, and it looks like he’s off to another stellar campaign in Holland this go-round. But in these scrappy internationals, Gomez just always does more. He finds more avenues into the game, hunting, pecking and digging with gritty determination for a greater number of ways to have an impact.
Michael Parkhurst has played right back before, but it’s not his best position. When he had opportunities to cross Friday, Parkhurst didn’t always look comfortable enough to try. Since it’s not his best spot, and since this was emergency duty anyway, it’s hard to ding the man too much.
On the other hand, if he’s going to be an international caliber player, and if he is sometimes going to be stationed along the right, he’s just got to stash a few more offensive moves into his bag of tricks.
Someday, perhaps, someone will explain to me Jermaine Jones’ role in all this for the United States. He’s foul prone and hot-headed, which is a dangerous combo. He’s not a particularly good passer or shooter and he tends to earn good grades about every fourth time out. So, why not start developing a younger man in his stead? Like, Danny Williams, perhaps. (Williams did come in late Friday, for Kyle Beckerman.)
Maybe Brek Shea was put in a tough spot, one half of a late, double-change along with Terrence Boyd. Still, when the FCD man did get on the ball, very little went right.
Again, he came in just as Jamaica seriously packed it in. But there were times when Shea blindly lumped the ball forward or into the middle willy-nilly. That’s not good enough.