Thoughts from USA-Venezuela
Ricardo Clark earned some redemption for his 2010 World Cup performance
Houston's Geoff Cameron impressed with his composure at center back
Jermaine Jones controlled the midfield but is still prone to mistakes
Three thoughts after the U.S.'s 1-0 win over Venezuela in a friendly on Saturday:
• Good for Ricardo Clark. Clark's 97th-minute game-winning header won't erase the memories of his horror show in the U.S.'s World Cup 2010 loss to Ghana, but it was still a nice redemptive moment for a player who needed one in a U.S. uniform. Wiseguys would point out that the U.S. got the benefit of four unexpected extra minutes of injury time -- the kind that would make Sir Alex Ferguson blush -- but give the Yanks credit for continuing to push forward and create chances in the waning minutes. This was a forgettable B-team game aside from Clark's goal; the U.S. lacked quality in the attack and didn't look much like a team that has been together for the past three weeks. But those who think results really do matter right now will leave this game happy after a W.
• Geoff Cameron is a keeper at center back. The U.S. player with the biggest opportunity gave plenty of reason to see more of him. Cameron's skill on the ball is well above average for a center back -- that's why he has often played in the midfield for Houston -- and he's a rugged defender who can be trusted to put out fires. Working well alongside Michael Parkhurst, Cameron helped start the offense, often stepping into the midfield on the ball, and he used his physical presence to snuff out a number of Venezuelan forays. Coach Jurgen Klinsmann had to come away impressed with Cameron's performance -- if he can repeat it against Panama, he deserves a call-up for the A-team game in Italy next month.
• Jermaine Jones is wildly up and down. There was no more influential player on the field on Saturday than Jones, for good and for ill. Wearing the captain's armband after joining the team last week -- he's serving a long-term suspension in the German league -- Jones was at his best breaking up traffic, winning balls, spraying incisive passes and barreling around to strike fear in U.S. foes. But he also combined those attributes with several bad giveaways, including one that forced him into his near-compulsory yellow card. By bringing Jones in, though, it's clear that he's part of Klinsmann's plans. You want a guy with Jones's ability to scare opponents on your team, as long as his aggressiveness doesn't bring down your own side in the process.