Well, I think it’s safe to say the United States played themselves into a tie. Freddy Adu had the only goal within the first 15 minutes of the first half, but Cuba equalized right before the half. Not thinking coherently right now, I find it appropriate to just lay out what thoughts I can muster:
The lineups were (one or two of Cuba’s midfield might be wrong):
– First off – about Cuba – if I had to pick three to defect right now, it would be the three I mention extensively – Leonel Duarte, goalscorer Roberto Linares, and goalkeeper Jose Manuel Miranda. Duarte had trouble getting involved attacks going, but really looked good on and off the ball. Linares was fast and powerful, poking in the one ball that Ianni and Sturgis forgot to track. Miranda was Cuba’s man of the match, hands down. The goalkeeper turned away several Freddy Adu screamers, etc.
– Freddy Adu was the only creative force we had on that field. Kamani Hill certainly tried to get things moving from right fullback, but his forward runs were generally predictable and led to an errant pass or touch.
– Freddy looked rather rusty though. He was lost at times and, for at least 30 minutes, no one could find him. He disappeared like Landon Donovan often does and that can’t happen.
– Dax McCarty looked decent organizing the central midfield but he often overdoes the whole “I’m small and scrappy” bit, hurting his play in the process. If he had just calmed down on several occasions, more threatening opportunities could have been created. With that said, it was only McCarty and Adu willing enough to take the long shots from outside. Both, along with Kamani Hill, were the only ones that fought the whole game. McCarty never stops moving – seems he’s picked up a step or two from Juan Carlos Toja.
– After 20 minutes or so, it’s like the squad forgot the tactic. Using the wings became the last thing they wanted to do. Classic example of a team thinking they are automatically better than their opponent. It was clear they were, but they didn’t do what they had to do.
– Why no Sal Zizzo? I understand he’s been on the bench for Hannover 96, but come on – on behind Gaven and Barrett? Between Robbie Findley’s finishing and Charlie Davies’ diving, their inconsistent play on the wings was a big reason nothing was getting accomplished. On three separate occasions, Charlie Davies clearly dove instead of staying on his feet and taking a shot on net. Ives Galarcep sums up Davies nicely after he was subbed for Chad Barrett – “Barrett coming in for Charlie Louganis, I mean Davies.”
– I agree with Piotr Nowak that Altidore was taking himself out of the game and looked tired, but who else was an option? Both Findley and Davies showed no composure and couldn’t make chances for themselves. Chad Barrett was useless (was that just me?). Eddie Gaven needed another 15 minutes to actually get in the game.
– It is safe to say that Ianni and Sturgis in central defense is definitely one of the weaknesses. Our fullbacks – Freeman and Hill, however, worked well at times and were probably – positionally that is – the best overall for the US.
– Chris Seitz didn’t get much to do. Maurice Edu looked like he was almost too good for the game. Between him and McCarty, nothing really ever got going. I might be judging them harshly, but a 1-1 tie to Cuba in front of 50 people speaks for itself.
***Expect an aggressive American side come Thursday. Probably a team more reminiscent of the squad’s first 10 minutes tonight against Cuba. Nowak needs to let them take men on a bit more – like Edu’s quick swivel in the box that set up a shot, McCarty’s change of pace that opened him up for a 20-yarder, and Adu’s fake which he then chipped over the Cuban defense and into the path of Robbie Findley.