COLUMBUS, Ohio — The US national team got to work again on Sunday, two days after losing to Jamaica, 2-1, in Kingston. They traveled most of the day on Saturday, then took the field in front of roughly 3,000 fans in an open practice at Crew Stadium.
Here are five things observed and learned on the day.
1. The Crew Stadium field is in pristine shape, and that’s important. The Americans felt the rough playing surface hindered their possession game. “You take more touches trying to get the ball under control, and they’re so athletic they’re on top of you and tackling you when you did that,” Clint Dempsey said. The Yanks should be able to move the ball better on the Crew’s carpet.
2. Brek Shea looks sharp enough to start. With all the talk about needing more width on Tuesday, a lot of the drills were designed to get the ball wide and cross it in, and Shea seemed to thrive on the left side, picking out the onrushing strikers. Assistant coach Andreas Herzog was heard shouting “Good, Brek!” more than once.
3. Steve Cherundolo trained in full, but Michael Parkhurst isn’t going to give up the starting right back role easily. After missing out on the game in Jamaica with a hamstring injury, Cherundolo went through the full hour and forty-five minutes on Sunday. Parkhurst went through most of it but sat out the end with the other players who went 90 minutes on Friday. “I think I helped my cause,” Parkhurst told me. “I think I had a solid game. I didn’t contribute as much offensively as I wanted to, but I don’t think I hurt myself. I’ll be ready to play again.”
4. Will Carlos Bocanegra or Michael Orozco Fiscal slot in next to Geoff Cameron? Clarence Goodson, who started against Jamaica, is suspended for this match, and in training the veteran Bocanegra and newbie Orozco Fiscal assumed his duties. “We’re all pretty comfortable playing with each other, so whoever slots in is going to do fine,” Bocanegra said.
4a. Reminder to journalists: Bocanegra is fully match fit. While talking to the media after training, Boca was asked if he thought he could go a full 90. “Yeah, well, I’ve played seven games already,” he replied. There seemed to be some confusion that while he was waiting out his transfer away from Rangers — eventually to Racing Santander — he wasn’t playing. But he was. Yes, he was playing in the Scottish fourth tier, but it was playing nonetheless.
5. If things aren’t going well, Jozy Altidore will "improvise." Discussing the lack of width on Friday, the AZ striker mentioned that he and fellow forward Herculez Gomez started drifting wide to try to spread the game. Typically, the two forwards shouldn’t be the ones providing the width. “You gotta do what you gotta do,” Altidore said. “You have to improvise on the field. When you’re on the field you gotta try to do your thing and be effective. You can’t wait for somebody else to do it. If no one was out there, you gotta take it upon yourself and try to create something.”