Following the Americans' Gold Cup triumph, a couple of glaring statistics: the U.S. is 8-0-1 at home to Mexico since 2000, and 9-2-1 overall. Under Bob Bradley, the Yanks are now an impressive 10-0-1. However, Gardner says Bradley would be remiss not to give former coach Bruce Arena credit for much of his success. He is, after all, playing a similar style with many of the same players, "effective, certainly," says Gardner, "but by the time Arena was fired ... it had pretty well run its course, and was clearly not capable of developing into the more varied game needed for the top level of international soccer."
Can Bradley develop -- or is he even willing to develop -- a new approach? Gardner thinks he could certainly use better skilled players: "The defenders used by Bradley in the Gold Cup are a worryingly subpar group. In particular, Carlos Bocanegra and Oguchi Onyewu offer little but dangerously robust physicality," he says, adding that the "prosaic" U.S. midfield is conspicuous in its lack of creativity. The one bright spot he says has been the emergence of Benny Feilhaber, whose "magnificent goal was a resounding reminder of his value as an attacking force."
Gardner's commentary aside, the U.S. midfield had a very good second half against Mexico. The insertion of Ricardo Clark at halftime allowed Feilhaber to be more creative in the center, while Landon Donovan and DaMarcus Beasley continued to find each other with uncanny ease, causing all kinds of problems for the Mexican defense. It would have been fun to see if they could keep it up in Venezuela, but sadly, Donovan, Beasley, Clint Dempsey, Brian Ching, etc. won't be there.