Sunday, March 25, 2007

Landon Donovan -- He's Coming Out: Perhaps the biggest disappointment of the World Cup for the U.S.A. was the timid performance of Landon Donovan. Today, in a friendly against Ecuador, Donovan stepped up with three terrific goals - two great shots and a thrilling breakaway that he finished well. He had another excellent chance, with a sprint through the defense, but his shot was parried by the diving Ecuadorean goalie. Donovan played with confidence and determination. If this was his coming out, it was most welcome. The U.S. is developing a stronger supporting cast, but it comes down to Donovan -- as he goes, so goes the U.S.A.

Overall, the U.S.A. looked pretty strong -- they dominated the second half, and created opportunities throughout. The speedy, powerful Ecuadorean attackers bedeviled the U.S. defense through much of the first half, but the defense did settle down, as the midfield play improved. In the second half, with young Benny Freilhaber, and the even younger Michael Bradley in the central midfield, the U.S. controlled the play -- in fact, the second half had one of the more dominating performances I've ever seen the U.S. turn in. The defenders, especially Oguchi Onyewu, can still be shaky -- but, this team is starting to look pretty darn good. What a difference a year -- and maybe a coach -- can make

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