On the morning after Jurgen Klinsmann’s team collected three massive points in Jamaica, there’s still a curiously high level of discontent. Or so it seems, at least.
Perhaps it could be that the brigade of the content slept in on Saturday morning, comforted tranquilly in the knowledge that the U.S. drive for a place at Brazil 2014 is in a remarkably good place on this fine June weekend. Maybe we’re just not hearing from that more grounded set, a bunch that has placidly yielded the floor to the moaners and groaners among us.
Because I am still seeing the usual complaints this morning – some of the very same complaints I’ve stumbled over in previous years after qualifier victories in ports of the Caribbean or Central America: The defense was wobbly or soft, possession was strained at best, enough chances weren’t created and the United States just was not able to dominate. Oh, the frustration!
Here are two relevant lessons that just refused to be learned for some:
The first is about Jozy Altidore, who has scored two quality goals in the last two U.S. matches, and yet still cannot seem to please everyone.
Show me a striker who scores a quality goal on the road and I will show you a striker who has earned his pay for the day. Period.
On the road, on fields of dubious quality, teams simply are not going to create a ton of chances. Yes, Spain or the Dutch may roll over some poor Moldova on the road. But not always. And besides, the United States is not Spain. Or even the Dutch.
Back to the 23-year-old Altidore: A striker can hope for two or three good chances at best. If he finishes one of them, he’s in a good place. Finish two and they might just rename the training center after him. OK, that’s a bit much, but you get the idea.
None of this means Altidore is a shoe-in for Golden Boot in Brazil next summer, but for one night in Jamaica, in a match that will mean so much in getting the United States national team where all good Americans want the side to be, credit the man for a job well done.
(By the way, if you think it’s easy to convert chances in these matches, check out Mexico’s 0-0 draw in Panama.)
As for the bigger picture, I cannot say this enough:
Wins on the road in World Cup qualifying are difficult. Draws usually suffice, but to go steal all three points is Mission Accomplished with the capital “M” and “A.” Nitpick away all you want, and the performances certainly looked better in some spots than in others. But keep the result in context.
Because Honduras fell on the road last night. Mexico could pull only a single point out of its trip into Panama City.
Or look down in South America. In the 12 World Cup qualifiers played this year, I see one road win. Just one! Clearly, this is not candy-from-a-baby stuff.
So for the voices complaining over anything last night I can only say this: You need to go pour yourself a tall, tall glass of “perspective” and drink it down nice and slow.