Thursday, March 29, 2007

Guatemala ties the U.S. -- It was a home game, a friendly, against a CONCACAF rival -- the kind of game the U.S. should win. Unfortunately, the U.S. showed only a little offensive creativity, and even less finishing ability. Guatemala was the more dangerous attacking side, especially in the second half. Justin Mapp did have an excellent chance at goal in the second half, but he sent his shot just wide. Eddie Johnson had a good chance in the first half, but couldn't get past the goalie. Later in the half, Dempsey put a weak header on to the end of a well-taken free kick by Landon Donovan. That was it for the U.S. -- except for a badly flubbed attempt by Jonathan Spector, in the second half. I know he's young, but I've yet to be impressed with him -- at any level. Coming off his brilliant game over the weekend, Landon Donovan was largely invisible. Hopefully, the U.S. and Donovan can learn something from the way Guatemala defensed him.

On the positive, Justin Mapp showed good acceleration and desire, as did Kenny Cooper, who came on very late. Frank Simek, earning his first cap, was the defensive standout. Jay DeMerit joined him in earning his first cap. Making his first start, Michael Bradley showed a lot of toughness. I think he will soon become a fixture in the U.S. midfield. Goalie Kasey Keller did a good job of screaming at his teammates every time a Guatemalan took a shot. I guess that's a good thing. He didn't seem as shaky as Howard has -- but Keller is the past. Howard is supposed to be the future.

I'd say the U.S. might have been a little more solid on defense than they have in recent games, but it seems to have come at the expense of an effective attack. The coaching staff has to find a way to open up the field without opening up the defense. Speaking of the coaching staff -- I guess the draw didn't help Bob Bradley's cause. Another win would have put enormous pressure on Sunil Gulati to drop the "interim" from Bradley's status as national team coach. I expect that Bradley will remain in the position for the Gold Cup and the Copa Libertadores, but that the USSF will start looking at other possibilities following the end of the European season. Bradley should have a chance to nail down the job if the U.S. successfully defends its Gold Cup title -- and could lock up it, for sure, should the U.S. advance out of its group in the opening round of the Copa Libertadores, which begins right after the Gold Cup ends.

So much for national team news -- except to report two gossipy items. Brian McBride had an audience with the Queen. Along with Don Johnson, and a couple of American rowers at Oxford, McBride was presented by fellow American Kevin Sullivan, a Washington Post reporter (and Sullivan's wife). Sullivan joked with the Queen that McBride was in England "teaching the English how to play football." The Queen shot back: "A different kind of football." Indeed.

The other item? The Garciaparra-Hamm union has produced twin girls -- young midfielders, who should start dominating play during the Women's World Cup, in about twenty years. You heard it here, first?

Next week: the rematches in the CONCACAF Champions Cup, and the MLS opener, with DC United at Colorado. A busy week ahead for United and the faithful. And, of course, Opening Day in baseball.

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