Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America Classifieds
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalkSoccer America ConfidentialYouth Soccer InsiderWorld Cup Watch
RSS FeedsArchivesManage SubscriptionsSubscribe
Order Current IssueSubscribeManage My SubscriptionRenew My SubscriptionGift Subscription
My AccountJoin Now
Tournament CalendarCamps & AcademiesSoccer GlossaryClassifieds
Wondo plays the closer as USA downs South Korea
by Ridge Mahoney, February 1st, 2014 7:30PM

MOST READ
TAGS:  men's national team, south korea, world cup 2014

MOST COMMENTED

By Ridge Mahoney

San Jose Earthquakes forward Chris Wondolowski shook of the demons of missed chances wearing the U.S. jersey earlier in his career by firing a pair of accurate strikes as the Americans opened their 2014 campaign with a 2-0 win Saturday at StubHub Center.

A lot of U.S. players on the bubble toiled for long stretches against South Korea, which sent mostly domestic players for a three-game tour during which it beat Costa Rica, 1-0, and suffered a 4-0 thumping by Mexico prior to facing the Americans. Here are a few thoughts of what transpired:

WONDO POWER. A reputation as destroyer of weak national teams and squanderer against better competition has hounded Wondolowski for the past couple of years, and while he missed connections with teammates several times during sequences, he drilled his best two opportunities.

He struck in the fourth minute to put the USA ahead, latching onto the rebound of a Brad Davis close-range attempt, and scored again when a deflected Graham Zusi cross from the right wing fell right to his feet and ended up in the top corner. Five of his six goals last year came against Belize and Cuba, and again the caliber of competition will be questioned.

Wondolowski misfired three times in the first half trying to work combinations with Landon Donovan, whose range and activity opened up space in several areas of the field that the Americans exploited. It’s likely Wondolowski will have to wait at least two months for another outing, assuming a proposed friendly with Mexico occurs. Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann will most likely take European-based players for the match in Ukraine next month.

ZEUS MOMENTS. The jury will be out on Wondolowski regardless of these two goals. On the other hand, Graham Zusi turned in another performance rife with threats. His two crosses resulted in the two goals, and his ball that Davis turned into the rebound from which Wondolowski score again demonstrated what he can bring the attack from either side; he also played on the left and tested the South Korean defense from that side as well.

The low ball that produced the second goal wasn’t one of his best efforts but still caught the defense off balance. He can deliver a variety of balls at differing heights, angles and distances, and though he ballooned one well over the bar in the first half, there were more than enough good attacking moments.

BUSY NICK. Jurgen Klinsmann surely wanted a stouter defensive performance, and the Americans were somewhat lucky to get the shutout. Rustiness caused some scuffed clearances and clearcut missed assignments that required desperation tackles.

Yet keeper Nick Rimando deserved the zero in front of his hometown fans; he dove into a tangle of players to smother a near-post header from a corner kick in the first half, and the match ended in stoppage time when he went down again as an attacker raced at him. Aside from one bobble when he let a bouncing shot rebound off his chest, the Real Salt Lake keeper dealt with a lot of balls and heavy traffic as the Americans struggled to contain an active, aggressive opponent.

The third keeper is seldom called upon in a World Cup, yet Rimando is a valuable asset off the field. Enthusiastic, personable and still on his game at age 35 -- he will turn 36 during the World Cup -- he has the experience and leadership that will come in handy during a long stretch that will span six weeks and at least six matches, counting the three domestic preparation games.


1 comment
  1. Kent James
    commented on: February 1, 2014 at 8:46 p.m.
    I'm glad JK gave Wondo the start, and while he was not perfect, he was an integral part of the offense and did finish well. I think he deserves to go; he's the kind of guy that can come in at the end of the game and take advantage of chaotic conditions in the penalty area. It was also nice that JK let the young guys in at the end; great opportunity to give them some experience.


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




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Confidential
MLS clubs face different challenges in Concacaf Champions League    
MLS is well positioned to qualify a region-high four teams for the Concacaf Champions League quarterfinals ...
New deal rewards perseverance of Olsen and his players    
Just in time for the postseason push, D.C, United head coach Ben Olsen has signed a ...
Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson runs full-court press well    
If you get the idea Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson knows what he's doing running the full-court ...
Losing skid reveals Rapids' flaws    
Injuries, sophomore slumps and a rookie head coach will be the primary causes cited if the ...
Soccer America Q&A: Falcons' Jim Smith on MLS Atlanta    
Former Columbus Crew president/general manager Jim Smith is playing a major role in the launch of ...
Changes under Cassar are taking hold for Real Salt Lake    
Real Salt Lake prides itself on continuity, yet for the past two seasons it has flourished ...
Three takeaways from Czech Republic-USA    
Alejandro Bedoya's goal and Nick Rimando's saves enabled the USA to kick off its post-2014 World ...
USA-Czech Republic Player Ratings    
Coach Jurgen Klinsmann's experimental squad -- he fielded only two 2014 World Cup regulars (Fabian Johnson ...
Toronto FC upheaval is all too familiar    
It's official: Toronto FC has overtaken Chivas USA as the most dysfunctional team in MLS.
FIFA's Putin problem    
How is it that the latest issue of GQ ranks FIFA president Sepp Blatter as No. ...
>> Soccer America Confidential Archives