Last night’s dull 0-0 draw between the U.S. and Colombia at PPL Park yielded exactly one positive talking point for the Yanks: the assured debut of 21-year-old right back Eric Lichaj (that’s LEE-high).
ESPN’s Julie Foudy reported that she had spoken with Lichaj before the game and asked if he had any butterflies. He told her no, he wasn’t nervous, because he believed his time fighting up through the ranks at Aston Villa had prepared for occasions like last night.
Then he went out and proved it by playing with poise and energy. He swung in a great ball for Jozy Altidore to snap down on net (right at the keeper, unfortunately for the U.S.); he was solid defensively; and he did well in possession. It was a quality debut and Lichaj looks to have a bright future.
As for the rest of the game, well, here’s a telling fact: the U.S. didn’t get a shot on goal until the 53rd minute.
The Sons of Ben and the rest of the good folks who showed up deserved better.
Here are three quick hits on the forgettable game:
Brek Shea Was the Anti-Lichaj
It’s remarkable how much you can tell from a player’s body language and on-field demeanor. From the minute Lichaj stepped on the field it was clear that he was serious about playing well. He looked relaxed and determined—and he played the same way.
Shea was the exact opposite. He looked nervous and tentative, and every time he got the ball he seemed to want to play the safe option—back or square. He pinched in too tight, and he never once took on a Colombian one v one. The entire purpose of his presence on the field was to get wide and run at defenders.
No, not a great debut for the rangy Texan, but he’s a talented player, and he’s only 20—chalk it up to opening-night jitters.
How was that U.S. formation a 4-3-3?
ESPN introduced the starting U.S. lineup as a 4-3-3—calling Altidore, Shea and Holden strikers—and kept referring to it as such for the entire first half. Some of today’s reports on the game did the same.
What we saw was a 4-5-1 or maybe a 4-3-2-1; but however you slice it up, Shea and Holden were not playing as forwards last night. They were midfielders, wingers—the same position Shea plays for FC Dallas and the one Holden has played for the U.S. in the past (he plays in central MF for Bolton).
What was with the insistence that Bradley had lined up a 4-3-3? If we missed something, let us know in the comments.
Three Defensive Midfielders: Brought to You by Bad Idea Jeans.
It was mighty crowded in the U.S.’s three five-man midfield last night, and not only because Shea and Holden were pinching in too much.
The primary cause of the congestion was Bradley’s decision to start three holding midfielders—Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones and Maurice Edu. These guys are very similar players who look for the ball in the same spots and—no surprise—they got in each other’s way last night.
The U.S. coach scrapped the idea at halftime.
That’s it for the USMNT for about a month. Their next game is against South Africa in Cape Town on November 17.