By Mike Woitalla
Against a team that lost its last two games by a combined score of 12-1, the USA managed a 0-0 tie. Jurgen Klinsmann’s men didn’t even come close to hitting the net against Canada, which Honduras knocked out of World Cup qualifying with an 8-1 win last October.
Honduras is the U.S. opponent next week when the final round of qualifying for the World Cup 2014 begins. Tuesday’s game was supposed to reveal which 6-8 players would join the foreign-based U.S. regulars for the showdown in San Pedro Sula. Whoever they end up being, it’s difficult to imagine they’ll add much of a boost based on the dismal display in Houston.
Equally puzzling is why a squad that spent three weeks preparing for this game could deliver such a dreadful performance.
A DRIBBLING PROBLEM. The Americans pretty much kept the ball to themselves as the Canadians packed their defense, obviously hoping to avoid yet another rout. But this possession broke down when they got close to the goal. The obvious problem was that while the midfield – with Graham Zusi, Brad Evans, Kyle Beckerman and Brad Davis, to start – could string passes together, nobody seemed able to beat opponents one-on-one. Needed was some dribbling to penetrate and disrupt the bunkering Canadians.
NO KLINSI LOVE FOR WONDO. Doesn’t a player who tied the MLS season scoring record with 27 goals last season deserve more than 45 minutes to prove himself? Chris Wondolowski, MLS’s top scorer the last three years, was pulled at halftime in a tactical switch. Before that he got little service, but he was part of the only impressive sequence when he combined nicely with Davis for a long-range shot, tried a hopeful over-head kick, and did his best with a half-chance off a low cross. Joshua Gatt replaced Wondolowski, who’s still looking for his first U.S. goal, and hardly troubled the Canadians.
VERDICT ON DEFENDERS INCONCLUSIVE. Depth is needed on the U.S. backline, so watched closely were, from right to left, Tony Beltran, Matt Besler, Omar Gonzalez and Justin Morrow. But since the Canadians didn’t attack, we learned nothing -- but wondered why we didn’t see them join the offense much more. Presumably their potential was assessed during that three-week, two-a-day training camp. The camp during which Klinsmann failed to produce a team able to beat an opponent that four days ago lost, 4-0, to Denmark.