Join Now  | 
Home About Contact Us Privacy & Security Advertise
Soccer America Daily Soccer World Daily Special Edition Around The Net Soccer Business Insider College Soccer Reporter Youth Soccer Reporter Soccer on TV Soccer America Classifieds Game Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalk Soccer America Confidential Youth Soccer Insider World Cup Watch
RSS Feeds Archives Manage Subscriptions Subscribe
Order Current Issue Subscribe Manage My Subscription Renew My Subscription Gift Subscription
My Account Join Now
Tournament Calendar Camps & Academies Soccer Glossary Classifieds
USA stumbles on Olympic quest
by Ridge Mahoney, March 12th, 2008 6:45AM
Subscribe to Soccer America Daily

MOST READ
TAGS:  olympics

MOST COMMENTED

A disappointing 1-1 tie with Cuba in the opening game of the CONCACAF Olympic qualifiers leaves the Americans tied with the Cubans in second place and pondering changes borne by practicality more than necessity. Freddy Adu marked an opening period of USA dominance by curling home a shot in the 14th minute but a Cuban revival and a moment of laxity in the American defense enabled Yordany Alvarez to drive a low ball that Roberto Linares redirected past keeper Chris Seitz three minutes before halftime.

Despite controlling much of the second half, thanks to the inclusion of Sasha Kljestan and better attacks prompted by the back four, the Americans couldn't get another ball behind Jose Manuel Miranda in Cuba's goal.

Honduras sits in first place by virtue of beating Panama, 1-0, with a very late goal by Hendry Thomas in the first game of a doubleheader in Tampa, Fla. With another round of Group A games set for Thursday, and fatigue shaping the selection decisions of Coach Peter Nowak, his task is further complicated by the need to turn superiority into maximum points.

Sharper finishing would have meant victory. The USA outshot Cuba, 19-6; Adu hit the post twice and skimmed two other low blasts just wide; and at least three good opportunities to score on headers weren't exploited.

Jozy Altidore, who started the match as the lone forward in a 4-2-3-1 formation before taking a crack to the back and coming off at halftime, scuffed his one clear chance. Yet his prowess and presence so occupied Cuba's central defenders that Adu, playing as the central man in a trio strung across midfield with holding mids Dax McCarty and Maurice Edu in support, bossed the match in the first half.

After just 55 seconds Adu hit the post with a bending left-footed shot but got his angle and swerve right 13 minutes later after playing a corner kick to Robbie Findley. With the return pass he whipped a shot that Charlie Davies evaded at the last moment, and it slipped between Miranda and the far post.

Miranda turned away two more sharp Adu efforts as his teammates slowly clawed their way back into the match, and in the final minutes of the half a somewhat tired USA midfield couldn't close down a Cuban push forward. Alvarez found space in the zone assigned to left back Hunter Freeman, and when Pat Ianni couldn't deal with the resultant low cross, Linares steered the ball into the net.

At halftime Sacha Kljestan replaced Altidore, joining Edu, Adu and McCarty in midfield in a 4-4-2 formation, with Davies and Findley - who had been playing as wingers bracketing frontrunner Altidore - moving up top. McCarty, very useful and tidy on the ball if not always strong and shrewd enough challenging for it, continued to find teammates with insightful, accurate balls, and Adu found space to test Miranda.

Chad Barrett came on for Davies, whose three flops eventually yielded a caution, in the 61st minute. He gave the Americans more heft and height and ability to hold the ball, yet his best touch was a delicately flighted cross to the far post in the 70th minute that dropped toward Findley, only for substitute defender Loanni Cartaya to head it out of danger. Earlier, Adu had scorched the Cuban offside trap to send Findley through all by his lonesome but Miranda easily blocked his tepid shot.

Right back Kamani Hill, who got forward occasionally but like counterpart Freeman didn't always defend smartly, hit a cross that Barrett banged into the net, but this time the Cuban offside trap worked and the flag went up. Linares earned a second caution, unjustly, by kicking a ball into the net in the aftermath of a close offside decision. The Americans launched a final offensive with the man-advantage, but with the final chance of the match, Adu bent a free kick just off-target.

Group A play resumes Thursday. Cuba plays Honduras and the Americans meet Panama, a nation that has troubled the USA this decade in World Cup qualifying and Gold Cup play.

There are options for Nowak. Right back Marvell Wynne might get a run, midfielder Stuart Holden could add zip and zeal to the midfield flanks, attacker Sal Zizzo sat out because of an injury, defender Michael Orozco can hit pinpoint passes out of the back. If Altidore is healthy he can utilize chances that went squandered in the first game.

In 90 minutes the Americans created enough opportunities to win three games. Good goalkeeping frustrated them, yes, but just as often they self-destructed. Their hiccup game has come and gone with just one point to show for it. There's no more margin for error.

 



No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Daily
What They're Saying: Chuba Akpom    
"I was playing against players I played with on FIFA when I was younger  -- [Didier] ...
MLS All-Star Game: Red rules the day    
The team that calls Avaya Stadium usually wears blue, but red turned out to be the ...
MLS Expansion: Atlanta's Villalba and Jones off on loan    
MLS expansion team Atlanta United FC has sent its two big signings on loan until it ...
Crowd Count: ICC match draws 86,641 fans in Columbus    
The International Champions Cup match between Paris St. Germain and Real Madrid at Ohio Stadium in ...
MLS Expansion: All signs point to Minnesota in 2017    
Atlanta United FC is the only MLS expansion team confirmed for 2017, but MLS commissioner Don ...
MLS Countdown: ASG absentee Ridgewell out Sunday    
A new MLS rule intended to keep players from skipping out on the All-Star Game means ...
What They're Saying: Jurgen Klopp    
"If you bring one player in for 100 pounds ($130 million) and he gets injured, then ...
U.S. Abroad: Brooks returns to action in Hertha win    
John Brooks became the first of the Americans who played at the 2016 Copa Centenario to ...
MLS Moves: 'Flaco' returns to Sounders    
Midfielder Alvaro Fernandez is back at Seattle for his second stint, signing on Thursday, a day ...
Video Pick: Pulisic scores against Man City    
Borussia Dortmund's 17-year-old American Christian Pulisic scored the stoppage-time equalizer in a 1-1 friendly tie with ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives