U.S. fails to impress in Canada tie, final World Cup qualifying tune-up
The U.S. didn't show the creativity it did in friendlies against Scotland and Brazil
Defender Clarence Goodson deserves to start against Antigua and Barbuda Friday
Jurgen Klinsmann started Clint Dempsey with Landon Donovan for the first time
Three thoughts after the U.S.' 0-0 friendly tie against Canada in Toronto on Sunday:
1. This was a slight step backward for Jurgen Klinsmann's team. There's no need to overplay the result, but against a mediocre Canadian outfit the U.S. didn't show the creativity or create the chances that it did in the previous two games against Scotland and Brazil. With its compact defensive shape, Canada provided an accurate preview of what the U.S. can expect in most CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers, in which the Yanks will be forced to take the attack to their opponents. But the U.S. missed Michael Bradley's passing vision higher up the field, which had caused problems for Scotland and Brazil. Should the U.S. start all three of Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan and José Torres at the same time moving forward? Doing so forced Maurice Edu out of the lineup as the defensive-minded man in front of the back line and pushed Bradley deeper, which in turn stymied the U.S. attack. At the very least, Bradley should be playing higher than Jermaine Jones, whose passing isn't nearly as effective.
2. Clarence Goodson deserves more starts. The man called Clay returned to the lineup for the first time since February's Italy upset, and Goodson rarely put a foot wrong in the central defense, which should earn him the starting nod next to Carlos Bocanegra in Friday's World Cup qualifier against Antigua and Barbuda. Geoff Cameron (an own-goal vs. Scotland) and Oguchi Onyewu (a rough game vs. Brazil) both had issues in the previous two contests, and Goodson was reliable in the air and on the ground Sunday. (He also cut down on his occasional tendency to be late stepping forward in the offside trap.) What's more, Goodson is a useful target on set pieces, and he nearly grabbed a last-minute winner when his snap header off a free kick was saved well by Canadian goalkeeper Lars Hirschfeld.
3. Through-balls: The left back spot is now in question. Impressive starter Fabian Johnson was a late scratch with a calf strain, and Edgar Castillo was wildly up-and-down, showing promise in the opening stages before struggling thereafter. (Castillo's poor first-half giveaway in his own end led to a strangely disallowed Canadian goal when the assistant referee called a dubious foul on David Edgar.) While Johnson's status for qualifiers is up in the air, Castillo did little to quiet the lobbying for Aston Villa's Eric Lichaj (who wasn't called up) to take his place. ... Dempsey and Donovan started their first game together under Klinsmann, but the result was subdued, except for one good give-and-go exchange late in the first half. Dempsey clearly isn't fully fit yet. ... If this really was a five-game tournament, Jones would be suspended for the next game after his second straight match with a yellow card. He has to cut down on yellows. ... The U.S. very nearly went down a goal late in the game when Canada's Simeon Jackson botched a sitter. The late flurry in both ends couldn't hide that this was a very forgettable game.
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