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Late, late Clark goal spares Americans disappointing result
by Paul Kennedy, January 21st, 2012 9:51PM
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TAGS:  men's national team


[USA-VENEZUELA] It would have been a very disappointing result if Ricardo Clark had not connected with another winter refugee from the Bundesliga, Jermaine Jones, as Venezuela, fielding only one player who was even on the bench for its more recent World Cup qualifier, is arguably the weakest team the USA will face all year. The 1-0 win -- in the seventh minute of stoppage time -- rewarded the more than 22,000 fans who turned out at the University of Phoenix in Glendale, Ariz., but offered few encouraging signs about the depth Jurgen Klinsmann will have to work with.

MISFIRES. The USA finished with a 16-4 advantage in shots but could only put four shots on target before Clark's goal.

Center forward Teal Bunbury was the worst offender, capping a poor evening when he shot wide from the top of the area after Chris Wondolowski fed him with a sweet back pass. Bunbury should be expected to join the U-23s for Olympic qualifying but can't be assured of holding off competition from the likes of Terrence Boyd with a performance like he put on Saturday night.

But Brek Shea and Jones, two regulars during Klinsmann's fall 2011 campaign, weren't much better. Shea broke free in the first half after being fed by Benny Feilhaber but shot wide. Early in the second half, Jones was free in the area but volleyed wide.

FRINGE PLAYERS. Before the January camp, none of the players Klinsmann brought except Shea and Jones -- assuming he's been playing-- could expect to get callups when the serious business of World Cup 2014 qualifying begins in June. The fringe players who probably helped their cases, on the basis of Saturday's performances, are Geoff Cameron and Feilhaber.

Cameron looked solid in the middle of the backline, a position where age is not on the USA's side. Feilhaber is one of the most versatile midfielders in the U.S. player pool but suffers from playing for the New England Revolution, one of the weakest teams in MLS.

NEWCOMERS. Goalkeeper Bill Hamid, who did not have to make a save, defender A.J. DeLaGarza, Graham Zusi and C.J. Sapong all earned their first caps. (What do they have in common? All four grew up or attended college in the Washington, D.C., area.)

Hamid should be the starting goalie for the U-23s, but DeLaGarza and Zusi, who are both coming off strong MLS campaigns, didn't exactly shine against a mediocre opponent.

Sapong, a late sub, showed he is a physical presence up front. The 2011 MLS Rookie of the Year, who's four days too old to play on the U-23s, might get more playing time in the next U.S. match Wednesday at Panama.

TIME-WASTERS. La Vinotinto complained about Mexican Roberto Garcia extending the game a full seven minutes in stoppage time, but the visitors had only themselves to blame.

Garcia had signaled four minutes of stoppage time, but the Venezuelans then wasted three minutes arguing with Garcia before Jones' free kick from just outside the area went harmlessly wide.

Jan. 21 in Glendale, Ariz.
USA 1 Venezuela 0. Goal: Clark 90+7.
USA -- Hamid, DeLaGarza (Loyd, 74), Parkhurst, Cameron, Pearce, Jones, Larentowicz (Clark, 62), Zusi (Sapong, 74), Feilhaber (Wondolowski, 62), Shea, Bunbury (Evans, 88).
Venezuela -- Morales, Rivero, Salazar, Velazquez, Rouga, Mea Vitali (Renteria, 78), Angel, F.Flores, Perez Greco (Chourio, 74), Guerra (Guerrero, 88), Moreno (Blanco, 86).
Referee: Roberto Garcia (Mexico).
Att.: 22,403.

  1. Walt Pericciuoli
    commented on: January 22, 2012 at 9:21 a.m.
    The match served the purpose for Klinsi to see the next tier players. Conclusion, not much to see.Our hopes will rest with the U23 and younger to find the replacements for our current croup of internationals. I think the Olympic tournament is very important for us.
  1. Running Cloud
    commented on: January 22, 2012 at 10:59 a.m.
    I think you're missing the forest for the trees. This was easily the USA most-polished team performance under JK. The match showed that when JK gets an extended period to train his players, the result can be the attractive brand of attacking futball he has talked about. Yes, Venezuela isn't the strongest opponent, but USA's second tier dominated them. That's a huge positive. No, we didn't score until the late, late header by a midfield sub. Sometimes, the opponent's net has a lid on it. And full credit to the Venezuelan keeper for a couple of excellent saves. And for one of those open positions on the squad, Pearce had a decent match and Loyd looked excellent getting forward to bolster the attack. I'm interested in seeing whether the USA B's can maintain momentum in Panama.
  1. Eric in DC
    commented on: January 22, 2012 at 11:05 a.m.
    SuperMan: I'm with you. This young team kept its shape and on counterattack, they brought 3 to 4. Finishing needs to improve and it will. Overall, it was cool to see some of the changes.
  1. Carl Walther
    commented on: January 22, 2012 at 11:09 a.m.
    How did a 4 minute injury time become 9 minutes? US's goal was due to the ref, who seemed he was going to keep the game going until the US scored.
  1. Tyler Brock
    commented on: January 22, 2012 at 12:13 p.m.
    How does 4 minutes of injury time become 9 minutes? Well let's see; when a goalkeeper goes down 54 seconds into injury time and fakes an injury the clock on the officials watch will stop. They did not start time back until the match ball was back into play, which was in the 4th minute of injury time. So now that pushes the stoppage time back to somewhere in the 7th minute. The US scored near the end of the 7th minute. How did it get the 9th minute before he blew the whistle? well.... The ball still had to be dug out of the net and brought back to the center of the pitch and put back into play. The official did the right thing and didn't allow Venezuela to waste the last 4 minutes of the match the same way they wasted the first 90 minutes of play.
  1. Ted Hartwell
    commented on: January 22, 2012 at 12:19 p.m.
    Personally, I thought the US played some very energetic and attractive attacking soccer against an admittedly inferior opponent. Some really nice buildups and creativity, without too many of those annoyingly "hopeful" long balls that seem to have marred US games in recent memory. And I can't recall the last time I saw the US surge forward on the counterattack like it did last! The only thing really lacking was finishing...should have been 3 or 4-0.
  1. Stuart d. Warner
    commented on: January 22, 2012 at 12:49 p.m.
    I'm amazed no one has mentioned Parkhurst who, along with Cameron, was extremely solid in the back. When a team parks the bus in front of the net, and thus there's little pressure on the ball, it's hard to tell who can do what, but I was encouraged by the high line, spreading the field, and the play by P & C out of the back. I'm very interested to see how that pair play against Panama.
  1. Paul Bryant
    commented on: January 22, 2012 at 1:52 p.m.
    Here are my pros and cons about the game: I was very pleased to see the quick ball movement around the pitch, although much of it was inaccurate. I believe this is the first step in Klinsmann's plan. The next step is for the players to become more intuitive with regards to time and space around the pitch. I'm a fan of Breck Shea, but he needs to be more of a presence on the field. J. Jones, while erratic did provide a lot of energy in the midfiled. The USMNT still lacks a playmaking midfielder to sort of run the show. C. J. Sapong was fearless in the box. Bunbury needs to go back to shooting school. I hope the players get their names on their jerseys so they can be easily identified. Where's Robbie Rogers?
  1. I w Nowozeniuk
    commented on: January 22, 2012 at 7:08 p.m.
    Bunbury is as inconsistent in the MLS as he is anywhere else; he has probably reached his limit of efficacy if one wants to call it that.
  1. Raveen Rama
    commented on: January 23, 2012 at 5:42 a.m.
    Talking if incosistency, I think Brek Shea does not deserve to be on the national team until he learns to have better ball control, and learns the meaning of teamwork.
  1. Walt Pericciuoli
    commented on: January 23, 2012 at 10:26 a.m.
    Hey fellows, lets' not get carried away. Yes, we did dominate a South American team which did not bring any of it's first team players and even then would only normally be in the lower end of the pecking order in S. America.The team we had were second or maybe even third tier. Based on ha you saw, which ones do you think will break into our first 16 by 2014? We would be better off looking at our younger players in games like this, but since the youngsters will be tested this summer at the Olympics, this is a chance for Klnsi to see other players. I'm OK with the process. Except for Jones, Parkhurst and Cameron,I didn't see anyone who could add to our current squad.Although based on prior performances, I think Shea might break through.

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