USMNT Outclassed by Relentless Spain

USMNT Outclassed by Relentless Spain

Bob Bradley has some decisions to make ahead of Gold Cup play.

When the U.S. scheduled today’s fixture with Spain they likely felt it would be a good tune up for a team destined to fight it out with Mexico for CONCACAF supremacy in the coming weeks. Spain got a brace from Santi Cazorla and goals from Negredo and Fernando Torres to down the host 4-0 ahead of their Gold Cup opener against Canada on Tuesday.

What happened in Boston today was nothing less than a confidence shaker. Playing most of the match with their reserves, the U.S. were undone by a four goal performance from the reigning world champions on the backs of a number of outstanding performances from a mix of Spain’s “A” and “B” level players.

The U.S. was outclassed at every step of the match. In every phase the Spanish giants dominated, and while that’s not a surprise, the level of dominance was disheartening.

The U.S. could not generate anything in the first 45 minutes playing without eventual second half subs Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley and missing Donovan the entire match due to illness. Without three of their best players the U.S. surrendered an astonishing amount of possession and paid the price.

Game thoughts:

– Despite the personnel, playing a flat 4-4-2 was an awful decision from Bob Bradley. Refusing to give cover to an exposed backline killed the U.S. and resulted in open lanes for late runners which produced two of the four Spain goals.

– Defense is a glaring issue for the U.S. Conceding goals to Spain is one thing but to not pressure and to have poor marking, especially in the middle, is unacceptable and could hurt against the better teams in the Gold Cup. The Oguchi Onyewu/Tim Ream pairing was not good. Neither player did well and without cover the Spanish attackers had a field day.

– Dempsey and Bradley coming on in the second half brought better spells for the U.S. with the passing and possession getting better.

– Today’s individual performances from some of the younger players should give the U.S. some cause for concern. Sacha Kljestan, Robbie Rogers, Jozy Altidore and Eric Lichaj had some bad moments in the match. Some of these players will be called upon to contribute heavily in the Gold Cup and their individual effort was not good today. While no U.S. player had a good day these guys stood out to me as not doing well.

– On the positive side, I thought there was some good play from Chris Wondolowski and Juan Agudelo. The inexperienced forwards found some spots and tested the Spanish defense. Wondolowski put himself in a number of good spots in the second half and Agudelo was one of the few Yanks willing to go at Spain’s defense.

Going forward its unclear how this game will be received by the U.S. team but it’s tough to say they’ll take too many positives from it. Playing tough competition is a good thing in general but from the outside looking in this could be a confidence shaking match for the Americans.

Bradley has some decisions to make regarding player and formation decisions. While a 4-4-2 could work in the group stage, playing that style against an attacking team like Mexico could be death to the Yanks’ Gold Cup chances.

One thing’s for sure, it will be interesting to see the U.S. and Bradley’s response Tuesday when Gold Cup play starts against Canada.

Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for and contributes to for the Gold Cup. Follow him on twitter at @Dynamoexaminer.

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  1. When is the US ever good enough to play world class teams? They play in the Concacaf and play against third world countries that can’t afford to pay their players and can’t afford to give them first rate training. Most have jobs on the side. What a joke. They’re always spoke about like they are a World class national team. They get lucky in the world cup and come from behind in some games and then they think they are on the same level as the Spanish, Argentinean, Brazilian, German and Dutch to name a few. If they weren’t in the Concacaf division, they would never qualify for the world cup.

  2. This was in interesting game in that it served exactly zero purpose to the USSF other than to make money, and is therefore almost completely irrelevant.

    1.) We have a competitive game just 3 days after so going 10/10ths like you have to in order to get a result against Spain was not possible

    2.) We can’t use it as a ‘quality barometer’ game because both teams were mixed A/B level so any point of comparison is invalid

    3.) Its useless as a ‘tune up’ game to test our tactics because Spain is hands down higher quality than any team we’d possibly run into at the Gold Cup and play an entirely different style.

    Considering these facts, any take home message about this game you might want to find would almost assuredly be invalid, other than Onyewu is no longer starter quality and Bradley Jr. deserves a starting spot.

    The circumstances of the game mean it is only important for the young players who just learned there’s another gear beyond anything they’ve imagined, the conservative far right radio show hosts who will use it as more reason to belittle soccer in the US for their own ignorant reasons, and the Euro-poseurs who follow Spain just because they won the WC and probably don’t even know what the Gold Cup is or that its starting this week.

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