Three things from the USMNT’s uninspiring draw
Brad Guzan played a starring role on Saturday in Nashville, and is likely the reason the United States men’s national team was able to manufacture a draw with Panama.
B team or not, that’s not a good thing. And Guzan made no excuses for his disappointing XI and subs in a post-match interview on Fox Sports.
“We knew it was going to be hot. It’s no excuse. We didn’t move the ball quick enough. At times we were a bit naive. Panama’s a good team and they’re getting better. We knew we had to limit their chances. In the second half the game got away from us a little bit, and we lost our way at times.”
Naive and lost is not a way to win a Gold Cup, but fortunately the Yanks can get healthy for the knockout rounds with upcoming group stage matches against Martinique and Nicaragua, who play later Saturday.
This isn’t a well-oiled machine
Look: There’s no question the United States men’s national team, even a B Team, should beat Panama at home almost 10 times out of 10.
So don’t look to this as excuse-making when we note that Bruce Arena’s mish-mash of a back line and unfamiliar five-man midfield probably need some more time to gel.
Aside from Matt Besler and Omar Gonzalez’s center back partnership -- the former of which was very good while the latter just meh -- the guys haven’t spent a lot of time together, nor have they played together in that formation.
Kellyn Acosta may be the perfect man to slot alongside Michael Bradley, but he wasn’t a good mix on Saturday with Dax McCarty. We point this out because that duo looked pretty darn good a week ago against Ghana, the sort of thing that can happen when chemistry is growing and one of those players turns 22 in a fortnight. If it doesn’t work, well, there are a lot of us who wouldn’t mind seeing Cristian Roldan get a look.
The midfield didn’t come out of the oven like it looked in Arena’s cookbook, and Dom Dwyer was often left wanting for service and touches on the ball.
Right back worries
Graham Zusi is not going to be Bruce Arena’s first option at right back should the Yanks progress to the 2018 World Cup in Russia. If the coach wants to make a deep run in this tournament, he probably shouldn’t be come the quarterfinals.
A good midfielder with tenacity and leadership, Zusi is not quick enough to close down attackers at right back. With respect to Panama left wing Miguel Camargo, who looks like he has plenty in his tool bag, the U.S. cannot be continually victimized for speed at that position in any game of relative meaning.
Eric Lichaj has to wonder, as a man who’s done about everything for Nottingham Forest, why he can’t get a look at right back over a man who’s been playing the position for a brief period of time.
Guzan makes his case... to stay No. 2
With Zusi and Omar Gonzalez having some problems at the back, the United States needed several big saves from Brad Guzan and the Atlanta United backstop delivered plenty.
Whether or not Guzan was wondering what he has to do to get better from his back line is another story (With respect to Boro’s Calum Chambers and George Friend).
While few will be begging Arena to place Guzan ahead of Tim Howard, it’s good to be reminded that the Illinois ‘keep has star performances in his locker.