Wednesday, November 18, 2015

U.S. Settles For Draw in Trinidad and Tobago

So, the U.S. played a feisty Trinidad and Tobago side to a 0-0 draw and people are freaking out a little bit. My favorite comment though came from @benpkaufmann:

Phenomenal performance if we're in the WC needing a tie w/ Brazil. Qualifier v Trinidad? Not so impressive #USMNT #USAvTRI

Similar stuff from @Metro_Soccer:

Yes, Klinsmann said a draw would be good enough on the road, and no, it should not be. Trinidad isn't Argentina or Brazil #USMNT #USAvTRI

To both, I say, ARE YOU SERIOUS? Let's be honest with ourselves for a minute. Right now, if we played Brazil or Argentina at home in a friendly and drew, that'd be a big deal. Those two countries are, like it or not, at least a level above us. Getting a draw on the road in World Cup Qualifying is OKAY. Yes, Trinidad and Tobago is a tiny island nation and we should be better than them. But, they are the second best team in our group. Drawing on the road against a good team is what you're supposed to do in tournaments like this. Win at home, draw on the road. Of course we want to win all the time, but people seem to forget that we don't. Let's look back at the last few years of the pre-hexagonal round of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying. We opened qualifying for 2002 with a 1-1 draw at Guatemala and a 2-1 loss at Costa Rica. For 2006 we opened with a 1-1 draw in Jamaica and added a 1-1 draw in Panama. For 2010 we went  to Trinidad and Tobago and lost 2-1. And for 2014 we went to Guatemala and drew 1-1 and followed that with a trip to Jamaica that saw us lose 2-1. This 0-0 draw with Trinidad and Tobago is right on par with how we've done the last four cycles. I get that we didn't play well, but doesn't that make the draw an even better result? I mean, cripe, we hit woodwork twice. A little luck, and we get a good result. We're sitting on four points through two matches and we have the best goal differential in the group. Bottom line, we're fine right now. Final thoughts:

1) We only had one road shutout in eight road matches during 2014 World Cup Qualifying. Chew on that.

2) I'm a little surprised that we didn't give Bobby Wood the start alongside Jozy Altidore given his success lately. Don't get me wrong, Gyasi Zardes has had a great year, but I don't know why we messed with something that was working. Obviously it's easier to look at this in hindsight given that Zardes had a bad game, but I still think I would've started Wood alongside Jozy after their success in the opener.

3) I'm also a little surprised that we burned a substitute, especially with more offensive firepower (Alan Gordon and Jordan Morris) on the bench. I'm not sure what the driver behind not using all of our bullets, but hopefully it's not that Klinsmann doesn't trust anyone beyond his first 13 players.

4) So what does Darlington Nagbe have to do to get a start?

5) Trinidad and Tobago started four MLSers: Daneil Cyrus (Chicago), Cordell Cato (San Jose), Joevin Jones (Chicago) and Kevan George (Columbus) while the U.S. started five: Matt Besler (Sporting KC), Jermaine Jones (New England), Michael Bradley (Toronto), Jozy Altidore (Toronto) and Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy).

6) Here's the results from the rest of Match Day 2:

A - Mexico 2 Honduras 0
A - Canada 0 El Salvador 0
B - Jamaica 1 Haiti 0
B - Costa Rica 2 Panama 1
C - Guatemala 4 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 0
C - USA 0 Trinidad and Tobago 0

7) And the next round of matches scheduled for March 25th of 2016:

A - Mexico at Canada
A - Honduras at El Salvador
B - Costa Rica at Jamaica
B - Panama at Haiti
C - USA at Guatemala
C - Trinidad and Tobago at Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

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