It wasn’t a ton of fun to watch, and the United States men’s national team showed us just how hard it is to win without your top players in a 1-1 draw against New Zealand.
Playing without Fabian Johnson, Geoff Cameron, John Brooks, Christian Pulisic and their top two goalkeepers — amongst others — the U.S. struggled to implement a 4-3-3 and allowed a late corner kick to disrupt its clean sheet in a Tuesday friendly at RFK Stadium in D.C.
What three things do we take away from the outing? Read on…
Julian Green’s star is picking up shine again
Julian Green’s bright first impression for United States supporters surely lost a lot of shine in the two-plus years after he scored against Belgium at the 2014 World Cup, but the 21-year-old Bayern Munich man was strong in both of this international break’s friendlies.
Green bounced a shot by a flummoxed Stefan Marinovic for the game’s first goal, but that was far from his only contribution. In fact, he was the most daring and dangerous U.S. attacker in each of the two matches. He showed some remaining immaturity with an extra touch after a takeaway in his own third, but he also made the takeaway. Competition aside, Green earned himself a November call-up… but at whose expense?
Gooch gives Klinsmann something to chew on
If Green’s two-goal week made Jurgen Klinsmann’s player selection for November’s critical World Cup qualifiers harder, Gooch did his best to make it a hair-pulling affair.
[ MORE: JPW chats with Gooch ]
The Sunderland man made his U.S. debut with about a half-hour to go, and showed smart movement and terrific crossing in a short window of time. He combined well with Michael Bradley in particular, and deserved an assist for his efforts.
But how does he squeeze into a 23-man roster when Klinsmann already has Fabian Johnson, Jozy Altidore, Bobby Wood, Jordan Morris, and Christian Pulisic in his forward ranks? And if you think that’s tough for Gooch, imagine what injury has done to the fortunes of Gyasi Zardes.
Depth issues at several key spots including midfield
Jurgen Klinsmann and even U.S. Soccer fans should not be too put-off by the Yanks’ disjointed attempt at a 4-3-3, mostly because this was always going to be a slog given the absence of so many key pieces.
Still, what were we to expect from a team starting its fifth-choice keeper (William Yarbrough), a back line full of non-starters who have rarely, if ever, played together, and a newly recalled holding mid who never found his footing in the match (Perry Kitchen).
What the Americans have in attacking depth they lack at the back. And honestly, this is completely acceptable. If there was a major tournament that demanded a 23-man roster right now, how many of tonight’s starters get the squad call? Bradley, Altidore, and Yedlin as starters, and maybe 5-6 players as reserves.
Heck, say what you will about Timmy Chandler, but the man is a week-in, week-out starter for a top-half team in this early Bundesliga season. Michael Orozco and Matt Besler aren’t regular club starters right now.
This was a match designed to give some guys a chance, and no one should logically fault the team for drawing against a first choice team with a Americans’ B-squad (and that’s being gracious with the B).
Again, these guys were healthy and missing:
These guys were hurt or missing for family reasons: