Backpost on the Road: U.S., MLS Roundup

Hey folks, we flew the BP coop for the beach this week, and before we get to the soccer, we’d like to thank the inventors of non-aerosol spray-on sunscreen. Those people deserve a Nobel prize.

If you’re a parent, you are nodding your head in agreement right now.

If not, just know that that stuff can get two toddlers beach-ready at 7:30 a.m. in a fraction of the time with none of the fuss of the old-school goop, and is therefore worth its weight in gold.

It already costs something like 16 bucks a can (and lasts about three days), but we would happily pay twice that. We couldn’t say what number would have to appear on the price tag to make us balk at buying the stuff, but we’re pretty sure it would have to be in triple digits. This is one of the great overlooked advancements of our time.

Okay, Gold Cup final: Yeah, not good. After an incredible start to the game, and a brilliant second goal that went Adu-to-Dempsey-to-Donovan-to-back-of-the-net to put them up 2-0, the Yanks crumbled like Feta cheese (or maybe it was Queso Blanco) and lost, 4-2.

The Mexico comeback had an air of inevitability about it, and El Tri’s ability to get behind the U.S. backline at will was downright terrifying for U.S. fans. The U.S. camp pointed to the early exit, due to injury, of Steve Cherundolo, as an explanation, and while the veteran defender’s calming presence was certainly missed—he may have been the most consistent U.S. performer in the tournament—his absence alone doesn’t explain the problem.

No, the U.S. is simply not as good as Mexico right now. With West Ham winger Pablo Barrera, Tottenham attacker Giovani Dos Santos, and Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez (who scored 20 goals in 45 appearances for the Red Devils this past season), this is one of Mexico’s best teams ever, and they ran roughshod over the Yanks.

Would things have been different if the U.S. had Stuart Holden and Timothy Chandler at the Gold Cup? Probably, but the fact remains that the Yanks lack depth, and have some real concerns as they head toward qualifying for the 2014 World Cup.

The backline is full of question marks due to age on the one hand and inexperience on the other. The midfield is a strong suit but still lacks a playmaker in the Claudio Reyna or Tab Ramos mode (though Adu could fill that role; more on him later). And up top, we’re still awaiting the second coming of Charlie Davies.

Let’s look at the good, the bad, and the future of coach Bob Bradley in the wake of the 2011 Gold Cup:

The Good

Freddy Adu! The (still-only) 22-year-old did nothing short of revive his entire career with his Gold Cup performance, showing great skill on the ball and an ability to spark the U.S. offense. Frankly, we’re still in disbelief. It will be a very interesting next season for Mr. Adu.

Eric Lichaj showed a lot of poise, great speed and decent skill on the ball. He’s only 22. If he and Timmy Chandler were the starting outside backs in the qualifying cycle, U.S. fans would take it. Especially as the excellent Cherundolo is 32.

Juan Agudelo and Jozy Altidore. Both showed flashes of the potential to be top-class strikers. Agudelo came on in emergency circumstances vs Jamaica and did very well, and Altidore scored two goals, one of them a blinder, before injuring his hamstring.

The Bad

• Backline depth is very suspect, as exposed by the injury to Cherundolo. Jonathan Bornstein did nothing to dissuade his (many) critics, and Tim Ream showed he’s not quite ready for the best international competition.

• Shockingly, given his track record, Tim Howard had an awful game against El Tri. He was too easily beaten on Barrera’s second goal, an outside-of-the-foot shot that wasn’t all that hard-hit or well-placed, and he was at sea flailing at Dos Santos in the box before the Mexican attacker hit his incredible chip to the far upper 90.

The Coach

Is Bradley done after his team’s failure to win the Gold Cup and a berth in the World Cup dress rehearsal that is the 2013 Confederations Cup?

He could be. The USSF has long said that this tournament was a priority and a measuring stick, and if they were going to make a change, now would be a good time. Any new coach would have time to acclimate before World Cup qualifying starts, and three years to work with the team before Brazil 2014.

Yesterday, The New York Times asked federation prez Sunil Gulati if Bradley would stay on as coach, and his reply was terse: “We’ll have something to say later this week.”

So, what do you think? Will that “something” be a vote of confidence or a dismissal? What should it be? And if Bradley is let go, who would you like to see take his place? (We’re partial to Peter Nowak ourselves.) Let us know in the comments.

U.S. U-17s

The young Yanks tied New Zealand 0-0 in their third group-stage game at the youth World Cup and ended up tied with the Kiwis in the group standings, on both points and goals. They won the tiebreaker—a drawing of lots—and will play Germany in the knockout stage on Thursday (4:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU, ESPN3.com).

MLS

• The Red Bulls made another blockbuster trade, sending midfielder Dwayne De Rosario, a player they acquired from Toronto in April, to D.C. United in exchange for midfielder Dax McCarty on Tuesday. De Rosario was essentially auditioning for DP money in 2012 from the Red Bulls, and after producing two goals and four assists in 13 games, he apparently botched the audition.  New York cut bait, bringing in the younger (by nine years) and cheaper (by roughly $300,000) McCarty in his place.

• MLS teams began U.S. Open Cup play yesterday and seven of the eight teams from the league won their games to advance to the quarterfinals of the tournament.

Red Bull New York won a unique derby, dropping third-tier FC New York 2-1, with the winning goal coming from John Rooney. The only MLS team to slip up was the Columbus Crew, which fell to the third-division Richmond Kickers 2-1.

MLS teams have won 14 of the previous 15 U.S. Open Cups.

For two takes on the USMNT and the future of coach Bradley, see here, and here.

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2 comments on “Backpost on the Road: U.S., MLS Roundup

  1. Fenistrator says:

    Yes Nowak would be a good choice…especially since it would help you RB supporters reclaim first place in the East from the Union.

  2. omatv says:

    Aguedelo amongst the good??? Were you watching with sunscreen in your eyes? Every first touch seemed to go straight to his chest level.

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