Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySoccer World DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America ClassifiedsGame Report
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's Best of July    
So much international soccer -- Gold Cup, Women's World Cup, prestigious club friendlies -- was played ...
We hand out our MLS Midseason Awards    
Can a newcomer win the MVP award? Is the defending Goalkeeper of the Year destined to ...
Soccer's scandals poison Gold Cup playing field    
As a child in the early 1960s, I was a college football fan, or as much ...
It's time to re-think the MLS All-Star Game    
As the league expands and teams sign more star players, limiting the MLS representation to just ...
USA gets reminder the red, white, and blue is not sacrosanct on Concacaf fields    
Defeat to Jamaica in the semifinals changes the U.S. landscape for the next few months. With ...
So you think you've been Concacafed?    
The Gold Cup is the tournament everyone loves to hate on, from the refereeing to the ...
USA has no one cut from Dempsey's mold -- thankfully, his exit is a ways off    
Before bagging a hat trick against Cuba, Clint Dempsey had scored three of the four U.S. ...
New MLS process twists its already labyrinth-like financial underpinnings    
In just over a week, two teams -- Portland and the Galaxy -- have announced deals ...
Galaxy breaks new ground with Dos Santos signing    
Is the signing of Giovani dos Santos another example of the rich getting richer in MLS, ...
FIFA hearing: Power, politics, the two-choice equation and why U.S. Soccer sells itself short    
According to U.S. Soccer's latest Form 990 return, secretary general Dan Flynn was its second highest-paid ...
>> Soccer America Confidential Archives