For the second match in a row, Graham Zusi impressed. While Friday’s performance may not have been as eye-opening as last month’s effort in Columbus, the Sporting Kansas City attacker was one on the States’ best players over the first half hour, a period highlighted by this cross for the first goal.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xN9h0yaYeSU]
Later in the half, Zusi nearly added a second assist, running onto a restart from Michael Bradley before quickly turning on a cross for Johnson, the Man of the Match heading a potential go-ahead goal just wide.
Zusi’s performance was enough to ask: Is Zheusi starting to close the gap between him and Landon Donovan? Perhaps, but for large stretches of Friday’s match (that lull between goals), the U.S. was desperate for somebody to break open the game as only Donovan can. Even if Zusi does a good job most of the time, it’s those few extraordinary minutes per match that make Donovan special.
One of Donovan’s long-time teammates played a crucial part on the game-winner. Alan Gordon, the most criticized of Klinsmann’s selections, came off the bench to provide the assist:[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sodSb_v4VyE]
How many players can say they recorded an assist in their first appearance for the national team? Let alone an assist on a game-winning goal on the road in World Cup qualifying?
Take a look at how fast the play develops. Throw in, two touches, and the ball’s into the six-yard box. Johnson pulls away from his mark, with Gordon’s cross leaving little chance for the defenders or goalkeeper to adjust. You don’t see many U.S. goals like that, but if Jurgen Klinsmann has his way, we’ll see a lot more of those type of quick, aggressive decisions from the States’ attackers.