The USMNT got the three points they came for against Japan in Tianjin on Thursday, but the 1-0 win was not without is fair share of worrying moments.
by Greg Seltzer for Soccer365
By the largely even contest was over, American fans were handed another double present when Nigeria and the Netherlands duked it out in a scoreless draw.
And yet, one has to wonder if a one-goal victory over Japan should still be enough to satisfy, especially considering that the other two group giants are still laying in wait with scopes firmly fixed on the tabletop ‘Nats.
The Star Spangled boys were workmanlike, as one might expect from this regime. Being able to score first vindicated the choice of tactics because it allowed the players to organically protect. However, it would likely behoove coach Piotr Nowak and his staff to come up with a little more meat for Sunday’s Oranje game plan.
There are reasons why American teams regularly lose to the Netherlands at all levels. Of course, there is the talent gap, but that is closing – especially in the youth ranks. Now is the time to minimize the divide further by throwing some brave wrinkles into the system and playing some football.
U.S. v Japan Player Ratings
Brad Guzan (6.5) – Always alert and always using his size, the new Aston Villa man did not disappoint in several sticky situations.
Marvell Wynne (6) – He generally kept his side clean and hustled to the middle to make a big play or two, but there wasn’t much going forward.
Maurice Edu (6.5) – The converted midfielder played tough in the middle of defense and moved the ball out well. He sure did get lucky on that late “was it or wasn’t it” penalty decision. It looked like one, but the ref said it wasn’t, so I’m not going to mark him down for it.
Michael Parkhurst (5) – Not the best day from the Revs star, who was pulled out of position and lost running markers too often.
Michael Orozco (4.5) – Don’t get me wrong, I like this kid. He’s very strong in one-on-one situations, but had a great deal of trouble corralling Japan winger Atsuto Uchida when the ball was on the move – as one might expect when a center back goes wide. Orozco also failed to link with his own winger in attack.
Michael Bradley (6) – The hot transfer topic was easily the best U.S. player in the first half, but faded a touch after they took the lead. His touch and movement of the ball were largely splendid.
Sacha Kljestan (5) – The Chivas USA ace did well going forward in the first half, but contributed to some defensive breakdowns after intermission. It seems to me that having him and Bradley both on is redundant in this formation.
Robbie Rogers (5) – The Crew speedster wasn’t involved a great deal, but that’s not entirely his fault. When given the chance, he took defenders on heartily, only to cross poorly.
Freddy Adu (6) – He didn’t spur many chances, and yet, he was the one guy willing to test central defenders and fire from distance.
Brian McBride (5.5) – See Robbie Rogers, sentence one. Can somebody please get this guy involved in the offense doing something other than holding up the ball with his back to goal?