Based on the results, Tuesday night was an overwhelming success.
LIVESTRONG Sporting Park was sold out for team USA‘s 1-0 victory over Guadaloupe.
Many players, coaches and media observers that were getting their first taste of Sporting KC’s new home were thoroughly impressed with the stadium and atmosphere that it provided for this crucial Gold Cup game.
"It was fantastic," said Landon Donovan when asked about the new stadium. "I think everybody involved should be commended. The crowd was great, they were energetic. The stadium, the locker room and facilities are beautiful. I definitely hope we come back here."
"It’s a great stadium," said head coach Bob Bradley. "I think all of the players were really excited about every part of it. The stadium is really well done. It is first class in every way. The atmosphere inside of the stadium, it is great to play in front of a crowd that is there for us, a U.S. crowd.”
And, hey, the US will now advance to the next round where a very respectable Jamaican squad will try their luck at knocking off the Yanks. So it’s all good right?
First of all, we need to remember that the US was playing GUADALOUPE. Do you even know where that is? And on our home soil no less. Don’t get me wrong, they have a respectable team. And by respectable I mean that the US should have put up 5 or 6 goals.
But instead, Guadaloupe nearly took the lead in the opening few minutes of the game. The lead! In the first couple minutes, a misplayed corner bounced through the US box and deflected right to the foot of one of their players who beat US keeper Tim Howard but couldn’t beat the crossbar.
OK, credit where credit’s due.
Jozy Altidore responded and lashed a wicked 30 yard near post blast to give the stars and stripes its only goal of the night a few minutes later. On the assist was Michael Bradley, son of Bob, who seemed to touch the ball about a million times over the course of the night. His work rate and ability to create space for himself and others was the most impressive feature of the night.
But for the rest of the game, despite dominating possession the whole game and recording 21 shots to Guadaloupe’s 4 or 5, the US simply could not buy a goal.
And it seemed everyone was in on the act, as Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, and Chris Wondolowski all missed fairly routine – even point blank – goal scoring opportunities. Most egregious of them all was Dempsey’s non-effort in the second half.
As US players streaked into the opposing penalty area, the ball was played across the goal line, catching Guadaloupe’s keeper out of position. Dempsey found himself alone with the ball at his feet, mere inches from the goal line. But instead of burying the ball in the net with one touch, Dempsey took a touch to collect it and casually tried to dribble the ball across the goal line. By that time a hustling defender swooped in to clear the ball away and American fans were left scratching their heads.
Why did Dempsey try to get cute? The all-important second goal would have sealed the deal, advancing the US to the next round for sure, and letting off a little pressure after so many other near misses.
But if I were Bob Bradley I would’ve ripped Dempsey off the field then and there. Six inches from the goal line is no place to get cute.
Maybe they were a little tight after falling to Panama last week, which made this game a must win (or at least a must tie). Or maybe it was just the luck of the draw.
Is Bradley concerned about the atrocious play in front of net? Not really.
"Sometimes that’s the way the game works," commented Bradley after the game. "There may be a little bit of frustration that you didn’t finish the game and finish some of those chances. But it’s still a shutout and there’s positives to go forward."
I guess all’s well that ends well, but these boys better put forth a better effort this Sunday when they take on a motivated Jamaican squad that is undefeated so far in the Gold Cup.