The USA opened play in World Cup 2018 qualifying with an easy 6-1 win over St. Vincent & the Grenadines. Even when it was winning earlier in the year against other Concacaf opponents, it was often
outplayed. That wasn't the case before a record crowd for a national team game in St. Louis as the USA outshot tiny SVG, 19-2.
1. Altidore comes through when it counts.
Altidore has come in for plenty of criticism for his play during what by his own admission has been a difficult season, but he remains the USA's best center forward, its best finisher and best
Altidore scored in both halves against the Vincy Heat and helped set up two other goals, drawing a foul that led to the free kick Fabian
Johnson put away for the winning goal and setting up Gyasi Zardes in the second half.
The goals were his 11th and 12th goals in World Cup
qualifying, tying him with Eddie Johnson for third place on the all-time U.S. list, behind Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey with 13 each. They also moved Altidore past Brian McBride into fourth on the USA's all-time scoring list with
31, behind only Donovan (57), Dempsey (48) and Eric Wynalda (34).
With Donovan and Johnson both retired and Dempsey's international future in doubt
following his exclusion from the national team for the two November qualifiers, the importance of Altidore's return to full form grows.
2. Fabian Johnson provides attacking boost in midfield.
Fabian Johnson was not only back in the U.S. lineup after being sent home
after the USA-Mexico game at the Rose Bowl, he was playing a different position, the position he plays at Borussia Moenchengladbach.
Johnson has played left midfield and done well in the
past -- starting in wins over Jamaica and Panama in World Cup 2014 qualifying in June 2013 -- and was back in midfield after a strong fall since returning to the Gladbach starting lineup. He was
involved in three goals, scoring the second on a deflected free kick and playing corner kicks into the area on the plays that led to the third and fourth goals.
Johnson's move to midfield
followed Jurgen Klinsmann's decision to start DeAndre Yedlin at right back. Until now, Klinsmann has used Yedlin almost
exclusively in midfield, given his defensive deficiencies, but Yedlin has been starting at right back for Sunderland.
3. Jones should be ready for Tuesday
night. At 34, the oldest U.S. player on the field and out of contract after his second season in MLS with New England, Jermaine Jones started in
central midfield, working with Michael Bradley.
Jones grabbed the back of his left leg and was limping late in the game, but he said immediately
afterward he should be available for Tuesday's game at Trinidad & Tobago.
Even if he is ready to go, it is hard to imagine Jurgen Klinsmann
playing Jones as the lone holding midfielder against the attack-minded Soca Warriors. Against Mexico in the Concacaf Cup, Kyle Beckerman and Jones held down the
defensive duties in midfield.
One option for the USA against T&T is go back to that alignment with Johnson moving back to right back to make room for Beckerman in midfield with
TRIVIA. The attendance at Busch Stadium was 43,433, a record for a U.S. national team game in the state of Missouri.
Nov. 13 in St. Louis USA 6 St. Vincent & the Grenadines 1. Goals: Wood 11, Johnson 29, Altidore 31, Cameron 51, Zardes
58, Altidore 74; Anderson 5. USA -- Guzan; Yedlin, Cameron (Miazga, 64), Besler, Ream; Zardes, Jones, Bradley, F.Johnson (Nagbe, 64); Altidore, Wood
(Morris, 68). St. Vincent & the Grenadines -- Mcdowall; Richards, Hamlet, Francis, Richardson; Mcburnette (Solomen, 60) Anderson, Prescott, Bowens
(Edwards, 75); Slater, James (Ledger, 60). Referee: Jeffrey Solis (Costa Rica). Att.: 43,433.