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Armchair Analyst: Three things we learned from USA vs. Antigua & Barbuda

08 June 9:19 pm

Armchair Analyst: Three things we learned from USA vs. Antigua & Barbuda

By Matthew Doyle

Well, that was unsatisfying. At least Canadians can look at their win over Cuba and say, "Hey, it was on the road." The US don't have that luxury after a hard-fought, uneven 3-1 win over Antigua and Barbuda in Tampa.

I can't say I'm surprised. Disappointed, surely, but not surprised. This is a disjointed, confused, and somewhat rudderless US team.

Oguchi Onyewu is done as an international-caliber defender

Bad showing against Brazil? Hey, it happens.

But the same against the Benna Boys? You're done.

It's kind of deceiving because Gooch still looks like he did way back in the summer of 2009 when he had that great showing in the Confederations Cup, but the similarity ends there. His lateral quickness is nil, his passing has always been subpar and his reading of the game has actually regressed. The vast majority of MLS defenders would have bottled up that touch from Byers; Gooch rolled with it and gave him a direct line to Tim Howard's goal.

That's unacceptable in any context. In a game that matters, with a then-fragile 2-0 lead? It's mutinous.

Jurgen Klinsmann needs to bury Gooch on the depth chart. He's a liability against even the worst teams.

If it comes down to goal differential, the US are in trouble

How many goals will the US score in Guatemala City or Kingston playing like this? It's relevant, since Mexico only went through to the Hexagonal on goal differential four years ago.

The US will not have that luxury — not after this performance, and even more so on Tuesday. That means the margin for error is razor thin, and any loss will be a potentially crippling one.

Does that mean Klinsmann should add more attackers to the mix?

Absolutely. Not only was the output poor, but so was recovery of the second ball and pressure in the final third. Putting Jozy Altidore or Terrence Boyd in alongside Herculez Gomez from the start would have given the US a better chance at taking advantage of all those chances they created.

Set pieces are still a thing the US can do well

Landon Donovan's service was perfect pretty much all game long. Carlos Bocanegra, Clarence Goodson, Herculez Gomez, Clint Dempsey, Maurice Edu and Michael Bradley are all excellent targets.

That was the difference against the Benna Boys. (How horrible is that to contemplate, by the way?)

It will continue to be the area where the US have the biggest advantage throughout this semifinal round. Klinsmann's men will have to milk that for all it's worth, or there may be no Hexagonal in 2013.