Hang on a second. Let me process this.
Okay, so it’s going to take longer than that; you’re going to have to bear with me as I try to put everything together and attempt to make something out of the U.S. Men’s National Team match against Jamaica tonight. Trust me, if you didn’t see this game, I’m well within dramatizing rights here.
As the title indicates, this game has left me in a glass case of emotions. I will admit, one of the most prominent now – as I type this up a few hours after the final whistle – is relief. Utter and complete relief. The USMNT pulled out a 1-0 win at home against the Jamaicans and put themselves back on the top of their World Cup qualifying group. This is very good news indeed. Due to the Guatemalans notching a win against Antigua and Barbuda earlier today, the USMNT found themselves sitting in third in points. We had no choice; we had to win and tie up the points and pull out a few goals to get us on top.
That’s how close the Jurgen Klinsmann dynasty came to crumbling at the feet of U.S. Soccer. And that’s a scary thought.
Am I letting my classic USMNT pessimism take over here? Eh, maybe a little. Or a lot.
But what if you took away the alarming factors – the do-or-die win, the collapse of the Klinsmann plan, the World Cup qualifying stakes? Does the situation still seem as dire as it was? I guess maybe not as dire.
The truth of the matter is, the USMNT had a great first half. I mean, really, that first half was brilliant. There was a clean, effective midfield who held possession of the ball for a whooping 79 percent. The passing was sure and accurate. The pressure was brilliant. If it hadn’t been for that stupid cross bar, Hell, the USMNT might have been up 3-0 in the first half alone. It’s a shame they weren’t because it was rightly deserved.
The problem was they broke down easily in the second half – the root of my anxiety for the evening – and practically parked a bus as they allowed Jamaica more possession for a 25 to 30 minute spell in the second half. But, I’m not reaching for the bottle like I wanted to do on Friday night. I thought about it, but I’m going to pass.
And as my glass case of emotions has both negative and positives battling one another, I think, for once, I want to concentrate on the positives of the night. It was, after all, a steely win for the US on a night that meant a lot and in an atmosphere that was absolutely amazing.
Am I ignoring the bad? No. Was it perfect? Um, hello. It was the USMNT, so no it wasn’t. But that doesn’t mean there weren’t things to be proud of or to celebrate. Namely, the performances turned in by Steve Cherundolo, Danny Williams and Hercules Gomez.
Oh, Steve Cherundolo. This man is a USMNT legend. There should be songs sung about this guy because he will be U.S. Soccer lore to the next generation. The sheer difference in the games Friday and tonight are mostly due in part to him. Dolo was able to read passes from the Jamaicans and shut them down with ease. Not only that, he was able to retain great possession, push forward along the wing and whip in some incredible service to the U.S. attack.
The man is really brilliant and an unsung hero. The USMNT fans know how important he is and it’s clear after this game, Klinsmann knows it too.
Something else Klinsmann should know after this game – don’t ever take Danny Williams out of the defensive midfield position. This kid was amazing tonight and clocked in his first spectacular match in a USMNT kit. He’s cap-tied now with us, so we best use his talents to our advantage. And his talents are in the holding midfield. Williams was able to move the ball through the mid like Dolo, but also did a great job at tracking back and covering on the defense, something the USMNT mid so desperately needs in that spot.
And jeez, what about that cracking shot he had on goal in the first half? Long, dangerous shots like that showed the Jamaicans they had more to worry about than our forwards – they needed to watch from 25 and 30 yards out too. That’s a tactical advantage in our favor and one the USMNT has been lacking in the past few years.
Finally, how could I make a list of positives for the USMNT and NOT include Herc Gomez? It’s not possible. If you think this guy is anything but amazing, you’re kidding yourself. After a bout of no call ups from the new coach, Gomez finally got the call up and has proved ever since why he’s needed in the USMNT kit. He’s creative, he’s effective, he’s clinical and he’s clutch. His free kick goal tonight was perfect. He was constantly in the right place, at the right time being an absolute nuisance to the Jamaican back line. Between him and Dempsey, they were a force to be reckoned. What a USMNT offense should be.
It was a nervy game, but the boys came through. Klinsmann has probably learned his fair share from the match and I especially hope he learns from his substitutes tonight (whew). And with any luck, come October, we’ll be seeing more of that first half USMNT. And maybe I won’t have so many emotions over one game.