Sunday, June 13, 2004


Three up heading to the Spice Islands

United States 3, Grenada 0. Not the prettiest way to open qualifying for the Americans, but a win's a win. The second leg in St. George's should be eventful for no reason other than to see if Lewis or Pope pick up that second card which would keep them out of the opening semifinal match against the winner of Haiti/Jamaica and to see if we can correct some of the missteps from today's match, since rumors indicate that the same players will be on the roster for that match, with only Pablo Mastroeni and Josh Wolff added to camp. Anyways, onto the review:

* First things first, WE WON! We have a workable margin heading into the second leg of the tie. We nearly lost our best defender on a red card. We lost half our strike force midway through the first half, and nearly lost the other half on a possible concussion or neck contusion. We broke their backs at the ends of both halves, and settled the tie on a well-struck goal by Vanney. We CAN play better than today and we will.

* We REALLY missed Josh Wolff today. With McBride and Casey up top, the entire game plan was to play the cross or have Donovan and Beasley dribble into the box. We needed a speedster up top to play onto who could make something happen with his feet instead of his head to open up the game early.

* Give credit to Grenada. They played the type of match necessary to hold the goal margin down so that they could POSSIBLY snag the tie in the home leg. Unfortunately, they were beaten BADLY on the second and third goals (the first by having NO ONE come back to pick up the dashing DMB, the second by giving Vanney space to tee up shots over-and-over on the left side…he was bound to cash in on one of those attempts).

* Thought the Lewis-for-Armas substitution was interesting in that it didn't seem to mesh with either the diamond or the box. I’m not sure I have an opinion on the gift cap for Earnie at the moment (it puts him on 99 for his career). Bad luck having to bring Kirovski on for Casey, and I don’t think he found his place in the match AT ALL. Felt Pope played with fire too often in dealing with Jason Roberts and could have easily been sent off on more than one occasion in the second half for shirt-tugs when Roberts had him beat and was alone on goal.

* Was thinking Beasley would be pulled at the half for Lewis not 60 seconds before he scored the first goal. His off-the-ball run to pick up the brace reminded me of Landon’s streak through the center for the insurance tally against Mexico in Jeonju.

* Thumbs up: Beasley, Cherundolo, McBride (was forced to play out-of-position because of Jovan’s ineptness), Donovan, Reyna, Vanney. So-So: Keller (not much work, so a definite up/down cannot be reached), Bocanegra, Armas, Stewart (no time on the field), Lewis (be decisive with the shot!), Casey (injury happened too early to know how he’d fare on the day). Thumbs down: Pope (trust your teammates), Kirovski (be gone, ManU reject!).
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