U.S. Olympic qualifying begins with a 6-0 thumping of Cuba

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It’s difficult to draw too many hard conclusions from a 6-0 win Thursday over a hopelessly overmatched Cuban squad, one further stretched after going down to 10 men early in the first half (on a pretty harsh judgment, if we’re honest).

But let’s see if we can’t squeeze a couple of observations from a contest decided before the break, as the United States took a 4-0 lead into halftime. (Remember, these are all qualified by the fact that Cuba was just a little more than 10 stationary objects out there. Keep that in mind.)

  • The arrangement was pretty much what you see to the right. Manager Caleb Porter had all three subs on the field by the 60th, doing his best to preserve the roster for the taxing, compressed schedule ahead.
  • Brek Shea, wide left in Porter’s 4-3-3, was involved somewhere on all four U.S. first-half goals. Freddy Adu, opposite Shea along the right, wasn’t as involved in the run of play but contributed plenty in sharp and well-selected restarts.
  • Mix Diskerud, Jared Jeffrey and hat trick-hero Joe Corona were more than credible in controlling the middle – again, not the toughest assignment given the level of competition. Still, you play the game you’re in, and they handled things with few issues.
  • Corona had the hat trick, but Diskerud was probably the most influential American overall .
  • Considering it looked mostly like a training ground exercise, the finishing was competent and sure, from Corona’s calm, professional put-away to open the scoring to Adu’s swell, lashing half-volley drive early in the second half.
  • U.S. center backs Perry Kitchen and Ike Opara, though generally not busy, still had a dicey moment here and there. Going forward, they’ll need more diligent screening from Diskerud and Jeffrey (or whoever Caleb Porter puts in there.)
  • Finally, I understand why U.S. Soccer and CONCACAF chose LP Field. But it just wasn’t a great selection. All those empty seats on TV are absolutely brutal. If the United States qualifies for London, then I suppose a case can be made that LP Field and Nashville were the right choices after all. Still, you can’t help but feel an opportunity has been missed to create better atmosphere and, generally, to put a better foot forward.
  • Up next for the U.S. under-23s (#BabyNats): Canada on Saturday, 6 p.m. ET, from LP Field in Nashville.