[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).