United States 3 Trinidad & Tobago 0: Jozy Comes of Age

01 April 2009

The United States played awfully in San Salvador on Saturday, Trinidad and Tobago at home was always going to be three points. It was a matter of what type of performance the United States responded with. Wednesday in Nashville the response was mixed at best, but Landon Donovan and Jozy Altidore willed the United States to a 3-0 victory.

Let's start with the changes Bob Bradley made to the lineup. We knew Tim Howard and Oguchi Onyewu were going to be back in the lineup for the United States. I felt Pablo Mastroeni should have started Saturday and did so here. Moving the midfield around and sending DeMarcus Beasley to left back was smart. When I saw Jonathan Bornstein was called into this squad I got nervous about him starting and I am proud to say I'm glad he didn't see the pitch.

Starting Jozy Altidore was a wise move by Bob Bradley, and that was before he scored three goals. Despite his lazy attitude in training that may never see him play in Europe, he is still our best option up front. Say what you want about Freddy Adu, but Altidore's is looking more likely to make an impact for this national team. Last year on The Third Half I practically demanded Adu start. Right now I don't think Freddy can do the things Jozy did tonight.

Still there were some major flaws that on the road will see the United States taken to down. Michael Bradley played too far forward all game long and left major holes in the midfield that were exploitable. Hejduk and Beasley were beaten on the wings far too often. Onyewu can't clean up everything like he did tonight. Ching though for his positive play on the night still is not a legitimate option up front. Starting the second half, the United States showed no ambition to put the game away and it wasn't until Trinidad removed Chris Birchall that the United States started to play again. Had Trinidad quickly brought on Jason Scotland, Trinidad could have pulled level before the US had a chance to get two.

There are two major bones of refereeing contention that have to be addressed. Just after the hour mark, Roberto Salazar missed an obvious Pablo Mastroeni hand ball that should have been a Soca Warriors spot kick. The other being the penalty Frankie Hejduk should have been called for on Jason Scotland when the game was 2-0. Had these decisions been correctly called, the United States is sweating another qualifier. Salazar normally doesn't make these mistakes, which is why he needs to be called out for them tonight. These are two gifts you will not get on the road.

You can get away with a performance like this at home. Playing like this in Saprissa, Mexico City or San Pedro Sula will see the United States beaten and beaten badly. Right now I'm not confident of our chances in Costa Rica or Mexico based on our play tonight. I think our chances in Honduras are only slightly better.

Think of it more as a wolf in sheep's clothing performance. It looked good, but on the whole it was not as impressive as the eyes think.

So what did you think? Let us know by leaving a comment below.


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Johnathan Starling, the self proclaimed 'most brutally honest man on the net, dishes out his own unique brand of opinions, and analysis on the Premier League, Bundesliga, and all things US Soccer.

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