USA vs Korea - Takeaways from the match

Created on Feb. 02, 2014 3:29 PM EST

USA opened up their 2014 season with a solid 2-0 victory over South Korea in front of a sellout 27,000 fans at the Stubhub Center. Chris Wondolowski scored a brace with two goals in the 4th and 60th minute while South Korea created multiple chances in the box, but was unable to put the ball in the back of the net. The Yanks have proven that some of their players in the depth chart are strong enough to play behind and
alongside the Europe-based players, while Korea has been praying that their European stars will stay healthy.

Here are the takeaways from yesterday’s match

Say Something , I’m giving up on you

Here are the list of players from USA who have failed to make a solid impression for the past year to show that they are deserving of a World Cup roster spot: Brad Davis, Nick Rimando, and Clarence Goodson. Brad Davis isn’t a terrible player, but he isn’t great. Every player on the roster has to be a difference maker and Davis doesn’t have what it takes to be that kind of player. Nick Rimando looked shaky in reading the cross and looked lost on several attacks by the Korean offense. In the weird possible scenario that Tim Howard and Brad Guzan get hurt, I’d be worried if Rimando is in the post when going up against the Group of Death. Clarence Goodson is just big, and many times he gets caught out of position.

As for Korea, all the center backs and defensive midfielders have raised concern. To surrender two goals against an uncreative USA team that only knows how to hold onto the ball is just inexcusable. Along with the four goals they surrendered to Mexico, Korea’s defense has holes that need to be addressed…quickly.

Four Strikers?

Despite his struggles at Sunderland, Jozy Altidore still remains the top option for USA up top. It is likely that he will be partnered with Eddie Johnson. Meanwhile Aron Johannsson still has been consistently finding the net over at AZ Alkmaar, scoring 15 goals in 25 appearances. But now a new option emerges. After not finding the net in his first nine appearances with the US, Wondo scored five goals at the 2013 Gold Cup and opened up the 2014 season with two against the Taeguk Warriors. He still is a longshot from making the roster, but the MLS superstar provides Jurgen Klinsman an interesting option. Wondo is clinical and has great sense of positioning, always being at the right place at the right time. He’s starting to stand out as an individual rather than being the type of player who is only effective when the team caters to his style. Although it’s still unlikely that Klinsmanns will bring four strikers, Wondo has a chance to change his mind in the next couple friendlies.

Honey Graham
Graham Zusi has a legitimate chance to grab a starting spot for the World Cup. For a midfield that lacks creativity, Zusi did a great job advancing the ball and making the right passes. He is a solid decision-maker and a safe option to play in the midfield.

Captain America

Landon Donovan’s backheel assist is just a prime example of how much of a veteran he is. He could have attempted a shot, abet a sloppy one considering where the ball was, but instead he calmly fed Wondo a backheel pass to double to the lead. That is proof of how experience and patience makes a difference in a player. Football purists can bag on Donovan all they want, claiming that he would be average in the European stage, but every time he puts on that USA jersey, he looks like he matches up with the world’s best.

Getting the Job done
USA only created three shots, all of which went to the goal. Two of those went in. USA certainly did not look attractive whenever they bring the ball done, but they get the job done. You can expect the same type of game, just a bit cleaner, once the likes of Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, and Alexander Bedoya join the squad. Efficiency; that is the American identity.

On the otherhand Korea…
Korea did not play a pretty game, but there were certain moments where they made some beautiful one-two passes in the midfield, especially in the final minutes as their game grew more urgent. Sadly, they failed to capitalize on their chances. I’m just waiting to see Korea bring back their A-squad. A field maestro like Ki Seung yong and a reckless attacking midfielder like Koo Jae Cheol is really the steps to revamping that stagnant offense. 

The People’s Giant

Kim Shin Wook is an enigma. Should Korea play their Bundesliga duo of Son Heung Min and Ji Dong Won up top or play Kim Shin Wook? The 6’5” Ulsan striker has a decent touch, underrated passing ability, and solid air game (duh), but his lack of mobility raises an alarm. My bet is that despite his assets, they will be negated against quality teams. Omar Gonzalez is the same height and looked more mobile than Kim.

Whose side am I on?

Korea’s inspiring (and controversial) 2002 display along with their 2012 Summer Olympic performance made me prioritize the motherland over the homeland. I’m rooting for both, but if Korea magically comes out on top in Group H and USA pulls off a second place upset in Group G, I am all in for the Taeguk Warriors when the two teams meet in the Round of 16.
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