Belated Thoughts on USA-Brazil

Wednesday, August 11, 2010 | View Comments
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - AUGUST 10: Neymar  and Paulo Henrique Ganso  of Brazil defend against Michael Bradley  of the U.S. in the first half of a friendly match at the New Meadowlands on August 10, 2010 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

Am I obligated to write about last night's depressing US performance? I'd really rather not, all things considered, and since no one is paying me to do so, I'm tempted to just forget about it and move on to something else. Aren't there MLS games tonight?

But everyone else is talking about it, so I suppose I should share a few thoughts. I'm not going to break down every performance; the level of disinterest on the part of the Americans was obvious, and I'm finding it difficult to draw any real conclusions from the match.

I was happy to see Omar Gonzalez get a shot to start, and the same for Alejandro Bedoya. Last night should have been a move towards the future rather than a rehash of usual, but I'll take a few new ingredients for the time being. The overriding problem is that we simply don't know who will be leading this team towards next year's Gold Cup and beyond; last night's showing only reinforced the belief of some that US Soccer needs to move on from Bob Bradley. I hardly think his job should hang on that game, but it's difficult to drum up the energy to argue the point.

It's the uncertainty that's killing me here. This isn't 2006, when Bruce Arena's time was clearly over and the search was on for a replacement the minute the team returned from Germany; I wonder if US Soccer is conducting the process as behind-the-scenes as possible because of how the Klinsmann drama ended in '06, but even that doesn't forgive letting Bradley twist in the wind while games are played. As much as I want to discount last night's result, every time the team comes together is a chance to take a step forward. Major leaps won't happen every time, but there should at least be an attempt at doing so; if Bradley doesn't know his status, it's hard to see how he could put his full effort into setting his team out when he's not sure if his plan will be in effect come 2011.

Brazil, young squad or not, was the wrong opponent for the first friendly post-World Cup. Sure, their presence almost guaranteed big ticket sales, but facing off against a world power at home put pressure on everyone to call up the strongest side possible in an effort to win. But it couldn't be a full-strength squad with Dempsey, Onyewu, DeMerit, Holden, etc. better suited staying in Europe or actively looking for a club; what we saw last night was a seventy-five percent US team with green players in key spots. Because Brazil youngsters were so keen to impress for new head coach Mano Menezes, and because they're pretty damn good to begin with, we probably should have seen the result coming.

My positives from last night are the blooding of Gonzalez, mediocre performance notwithstanding, the commitment from Donovan despite the rest of the team failing to follow his lead, and the second half performance of Brad Guzan, who was under attack throughout.

Now for moving forward...

There are October friendlies in the pipeline. Bradley's future must be determined as soon as possible so that those games are not wasted. Each one is an opportunity to build on a long term plan, and the Gold Cup is only ten months away.

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