Notes and Thoughts: US Men's National Team vs. Canada
By Matt Biggerstaff
Brad Evans is never going to be your play maker
This falls squarely on the shoulders of Jürgen Klinsmann. The US often times struggles with creativity (to say the least) so putting a guy who wasn't quick enough on the ball and doesn't beat guys off the dribble in a spot where he needs to be the hub to create makes absolutely no sense to me. Evans is a solid utility player, a guy who can play multiple roles but creator is not one of them. With how compact Canada was, the US needed someone who could work in tight spaces, was unpredictable, and who isn't afraid to gamble a little in the final third. This is never ever Evans. The difference when Benny Feilhaber came on and slid into that role was enormous. He played in a couple great balls while keeping the defense honest by taking defenders on and beating them. It was a key part of the first half, all that US possession and no real dangerous opportunities coming from the middle of the field, from the play maker. I can't understand the strategy from the manager here, especially with Benny and Mix on the bench.
Beckerman dominates the middle
The first point is even more painful because of how well Kyle Beckerman ran the middle in this game. He was everywhere, made numerous key interceptions, disrupted any flow of play Canada had, and basically opened up the other central midfielder to do as he pleased. Beckerman was so good that I honestly don't have much of an opinion of how the centerback pairing did on defense, because they didn't really face any defensive challenges. They looked solid in possession and I was particularly impressed by a couple of Besler's cross field balls that unlocked the defense, but outside of that, there was really not much to evaluate them on. A lot of that credit goes to Beckerman. He has really shown why Klinsmann continues to call him up.
Morrow/Beltran are not ready for this level
I like both a lot however neither fit the system Klinsmann wanted to play tonight. I have wanted to see Morrow called up for more then 6 months, at least to get some experience with the team, and Beltran is a guy who will continue to get better. Neither however looked comfortable in possession or getting forward tonight. Morrow struggled under pressure and I don't think he played in a decent cross all night. He has the physical tools to play at this level, but his speed was countered decently by Canada and as a result he didn't bring much else to the table. Beltran was better in possession but could not have looked more lost with the ball on the wing. More then once,if he whips in a good ball, Wondolowski has a great opportunity. Unfortunately his touch betrayed him at times, and he wasn't willing to run at defenders and then drive a ball across. After a bit of research (thanks to @TheCrossbarRSL) it looks like he averages under two crosses a game, which showed. It was the first cap for each, and certainly no reason to write either off, but they both need a bit more seasoning and development before we should see them again.
Josh Gatt should be with the team in Honduras
Gatt's performance was one of the bright spots tonight. He ran at players, used his blinding speed, and showed good composure on the ball when he had it. Unfortunately his teammates could not get him the ball in the right situations, but he brings something to the table that the first team currently lacks. Without Donovan, there is no guy that really scares you in terms of beating you off the dribble and running past you. Gatt has that, and at this point it would be a great thing for Jürgen Klinsmann to use in the 70th minute for example. He pressures high and hard and caused problems for Canada on both sides of the ball. I'd be very surprised not to see him next week.