Well, it was a hell of a run. Or was it? I have been thinking about the US National team’s success in this World Cup and I decided that it would be a good exercise to take a non-emotional look at all the games and give an evaluation. See if this really was a team that could have done more, or if they simply played beyond their abilities.
USA v. Ghana Win 2-1
http://player.espn.com/player.js?pcode=B4a3E63GKeEtO92XK7NI067ak980&width=576&height=324&externalId=intl:1887620Having a look at the stats for this game, it was a complete domination by Ghana. Ghana held 64% of the possession and outshot the US 21 – 8. 21 shots. Ghana also had 171 passes in the attacking third, 93 more than the US. This game was an onslaught, where the field was tipped towards the US net and there were 2 things that saved the US: 1) only three shots were on target, and 2) Clint Dempsey scored in the first minute. We eventually did win the game on a great set piece, but it’s hard to look back at that game as a well-played match.
USA v. Portugal Draw 2-2
This was the USA’s best game. The stats show that they took the ball to Portugal and matched them on shots and possession. Both US goals were strong attacking moves with skill in the setup and finish. The first Portuguese goal was because of a poor clearance, and the second was born out of a special cross by Ronaldo. I am willing to discount these events a bit as they do not tell the overall quality of play from the team. In this game, the US was able to control the middle of the field and Bradley was able to link up with his teammates on the wing. Looking at the influence map, you can see the middle of the field was where the focus of time was spent, and the US did a good job keeping the talented attack of Portugal at bay.
USA v. Germany Loss 0-1
http://player.espn.com/player.js?pcode=B4a3E63GKeEtO92XK7NI067ak980&width=576&height=324&externalId=intl:1914374This game was as expected. A very strong German side dominating the game from start to finish. The Germans controlled the ball almost 70% of the time and had more shots on target (six) then the US had shots. Not much else to say for this game. Both teams were pleased with the outcome, considering the state of points in the other games. Grade: C
USA v. Belgium Loss 1-2
The stats in this game tell the story. Possession was split, but Belgium had their way. 39 shots on goal required an amazing performance from Tim Howard. Belgium created chances by moving the midfield players out of position and running at the US defense. This was the toughest part of the match to watch as Howard continually bailed them out. The US did have chances late, specifically the potential game winner from Wondolowski and great flurry at the end of extra time.
The US team was never really good enough to go far in the tournament. They kept the games interesting, but their lack of technical skill was evident. They created chances, but at the end, they were only as good as their opponents let them be.
The memory of this World Cup will remain with me for a while. The US did a good job of playing above their pay grade and getting the best that lady luck had to offer. The passion and energy brought forward by the USMNT will be an inspiration for all the young talent in the country. I know that there are 11 kids sitting at home and learning from the this tournament. Those kids are the reason that the future is a bit brighter for American soccer.