Three takeaways from Ireland-USA

By Ridge Mahoney

A 4-1 loss to the Republic of Ireland in Dublin Tuesday night closed out the USA's schedule for 2014. An equalizer by Mix Diskerud and two shots off the woodwork weren’t enough for the Americans, who narrowly missed scoring on two other occasions yet conceded three second-half goals to lose their second straight game.

Robbie Brady scored twice for the Irish, which had lost a Euro 2016 qualifier to Scotland, 1-0, on Friday but despite fielding many backups took command after halftime and won going away. The Americans couldn't contain David McGoldrick, who carved them open numerous times and assisted on the first two goals.

1. Shaky in the Second Half

Spurts and intervals of polished, cohesive play contrasted with long periods of disarray during which the Americans, much as they had in the second half on Friday against Colombia, chased the game fruitlessly.

Giveaways in the middle and defensive thirds plagued the Americans throughout the match, and for all the endeavor and hard work by midfield linchpin Kyle Beckerman, the central defensive pairing of Matt Besler and Geoff Cameron rarely looked settled and only Alejandro Bedoya provided a consistent attacking presence. Beckerman and Alfredo Morales were seldom in sync and the center of the field usually belonged to Ireland except for brief intervals.

The first two Irish goals were scored in one-v-one situations against USA keeper Bill Hamid on balls played through the center of the USA defense. Both were set up by careless U.S. turnovers in its own half of the field.  James McClean drilled the third goal from the edge of the penalty area and Hamid was beaten when the shot took a deflection off Cameron. The final goal was a spectacular free kick hit into the top corner by Brady after a foul by Cameron just outside the penalty area.

Diskerud started poorly yet scored to polish off an opportunistic sequence on an Irish turnover he helped create in the 39th minute. Bedoya crossed to the back post, where Jozy Altidore collected the ball and sent over a chip that Chris Wondolowski nodded down for Diskerud to stab into the net first-time.

Bedoya had several other good touches, though he put his defense under pressure with a careless flick. For the most part, he showed why he's started 11 of the last 12 USA matches.  The goal marked the best of several good moments for the Americans, whose lackluster play overall -- whether because of fatigue or confusion -- allowed Ireland to take command.

2. Near Misses

Outplayed for much of the game, the USA still created enough chances to get a result but twice was denied by keeper Shay Given, and two other shots hit the frame.

Given nicked a low drive off the foot of Bobby Wood with his left toe and repelled another effort by substitute Greg Garza to kill off USA hopes of getting at least a tie. In the first half, Fabian Johnson hit the base of the post with a long-distance shot and a first-time blast by Jozy Altidore took a slight deflection on its way onto the crossbar.

Wood and Wondolowski struggled to hold the ball up when backup against opponents; both were more effective moving into spaces to collect balls at their feet. A nice turn and run by Wood drew a free kick in the second half. Altidore had a bit more success but the Americans' inability to keep possession offered too few opportunities to funnel the ball to the forwards and move into supporting positions.

3. Morris Debut

The arrival of Jordan Morris as a second-half substitute brought to 50 the number of players used in 2014 and he did what coach Jurgen Klinsmann wants his young players to do: seize the moment.

The Stanford sophomore ran down the left flank to set up Garza for a stinging low shot that Given parried with a superb save. Garza had dropped to left back when Morris came into the game at left mid and the pair combined like veterans to test the veteran Irish keeper, who seldom plays club ball for Aston Villa but made his 127th cap a memorable one.

Timothy Chandler had started for the USA at left back and he worked his way into good attacking positions a few times but like most of his teammates labored to keep his touches clean. Fabian Johnson’s play at right back was better than his poor showing against Colombia yet he committed perhaps the most egregious error of the night when he fell over trying to clear a ball near the corner flag, and Ireland quickly notched its second goal.


15 comments about "Three takeaways from Ireland-USA".
  1. James Froehlich, November 18, 2014 at 5:57 p.m.

    I will note this in my diary -- RM. excellent even handed analysis, giving due notice of the few (exceedingly few) high points and the many lows!!

  2. Edgar Soudek, November 18, 2014 at 6:43 p.m.

    Now would be the perfect moment for Klinsdumbum to resign and hole up somewhere...

  3. Bill Jones, November 18, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

    Edgar, who could have done better and how??

  4. Joe Bailey, November 18, 2014 at 7:56 p.m.

    I don't know Bill... I HIGHLY doubt Bruce Arena's Nats losing to Ireland by 4-1...

  5. Joe Bailey, November 18, 2014 at 8:02 p.m.

    I mean, just think... All these players sitting on the finest benches in Europe... As opposed to guys starting games in and out in our 'retirement' league. Klinsmann deserves criticism this time. Not so much for the players actions but for the team he picked. Which of course seems to contradict the words coming out of his mouth.

  6. Jack Waterbury, November 18, 2014 at 8:11 p.m.

    Is it just me or is Jozy Altidore totally useless?
    No goal production, no passing efficiency, always behind the play! What is his appeal?

  7. Thomas Brannan, November 18, 2014 at 8:29 p.m.

    When Altidore opened up and hit the crossbar he shouldn't have opened up. Run onto it and take it with the inside of the right foot and curl it into the far post. On another note, why do we continue to talk about a player who, "holds up the ball well". Do Suarez, Tevez, Messi etc. etc. hold the ball up or take off for the goal. To me this is backward thinking. All the way back to Joe Royal, Man. City. et. al. I really do hate to be negative. Really. There were spurts of possession but overall not good enough.

  8. beautiful game, November 18, 2014 at 8:57 p.m.

    I see a few potential coaches in this blog. What else can be expected if most of the players have a below average soccer IQ. They are big & strong, but when it comes to deliver the right ball at the right speed to the correct area, that becomes problematic.

  9. Bill Jones, November 18, 2014 at 11:34 p.m.

    Joe, is Arena capable of traveling into the past and bringing back the players he had before or magically rejuvenating them?? Its very simple. USA has been outplayed in most of its games since we started in this World Cup. The only team they actually competed with was Portugal. They were outplayed vs Ghana, Germany, Belgium, colombia and Ireland. Why are you guys so surprised?? because we didnt get lucky vs Ireland like we have with all these others?? Do you guys actually think we deserved to beat Ghana in that game?? Or only lose by 1 vs Germany and Belgium and Colombia?? Ok, well then keep celebrating thoise great grind it out wins in the snow vs Costa Rica!!

  10. R2 Dad, November 19, 2014 at 12:07 a.m.

    Friendly--means nothing. Wished he'd have blooded more kids.

  11. cony konstin, November 19, 2014 at 12:49 a.m.

    The US Soccer needs to determine what they really want. Do want to just qualify or do you want to be world champions? If we want to continue to just qualify then we should just continue to follow the same road map. But if our desire to be world champions then we need RADICAL CHANGE!! We need a soccer REVOLUTION!!!! We need a 21st century master plan. We need 300,000 futsal courts in our inner cities and another 300,000 futsal courts in our suburbs. So kids starting at the age of 5 can play for 3 to 5 hours a day, with no cost, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, and no adult interference. The pay to play model is good for teaching kids team work, fight youth obsiety, or to learn how to socialize. But this model will never develop magical, talented, world class players. We need to created and sandlot/playground environment. FUTSAL can be our verison of streetball. We need to embrace futsal to help develop our outdoor game otherwise we just be qualifiers but never world champions. JK, Bradley, Arena, or my mother are not the solution. Bottom line you can't make chicken soup with chicken s#$%. Coaches don't win championships. Talented, magical, creatitive players win championships. REVOLUTION = FUTSAL!!!!

  12. Joe Bailey, November 19, 2014 at 7:23 a.m.

    Bill, we're better than you think but I agree with you on that Ghana Game. it looks more and more like a lucky win- which we have a right to get once in a while- but a lucky win that somehow makes Klinnsman a potential coach of the year. we did have better players back then, but a lot of those guys, Eddie Pope, Mastroeni, Clint (the original) Mathis, Tony Sanneh, Eddie Lewis were mainly MLS players. Even Donovan wasn't playing at Leverkusen (or was he at San Jose already?). But we got to the quarterfinals and gave Germany a run for their money!! Give Arena some credit...

  13. Joseph Pratt, November 19, 2014 at 10:07 a.m.

    First touch, first touch, first touch. Without a good first touch, you can't play. Our guys just don't have it, our opponents do.

  14. Miguel Dedo, November 19, 2014 at 10:26 a.m.

    Other than perhaps Bedoya, a week of training/playing with the US MNT puts all the US players in Europe more firmly on the benches of their European club teams.

  15. Allan Lindh, November 19, 2014 at 4:25 p.m.

    Jordan Morris looked great I thought. Held the ball up, even went up and challenged those big Irish lads in the air. And the few touches he had looked purposeful and intelligent. And what great club has he been training with? the Stanford University Men's soccer team. If college soccer is so hopeless, how come he looked better than all but one or two of the professional players on the field? Have those of you who bad-mouth college soccer watched any Pac-12 matches this year. There are four very good teams with several good players each.

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