“Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing” is a well known saying in sports and its origins are attributed to UCLA football coach Henry Russell Sanders but might as well have been stuck on a postit note attached to Dave Sarachan’s forehead Tuesday night in the USMNT game verses Paraguay.
Here are my 5 takeaways from watching the game:
1. Good-bye Dave!
It has been great (well not really) thanks. What a complete waste of time. Instead of beginning the painful process of establishing a new identity (or experimenting to find one), evaluating new players, and quite frankly picking up the pieces of a shattered USMNT over the past 6 months, what does he do? He gives us more of the same.
Did anyone need to see what Bobby Wood or Deandre Yeldin (both of whom I think should have started, btw) could do for more than one half? Does anyone need to see what Darlington Nagbe or Jorge Villafana brings to the table? We’ve seen them, we know them. That’s not saying they are bad players, but it time to reboot, time to start over from scratch. This means actually looking at the new guys you brought in to camp.
Furthermore, are we all completely convinced that Zach Steffon is the for sure number one goalkeeper for 2022 (because he played the ENTIRE game in a friendly where we left 2 subs floating in the air)? I mean how bizzare was it to not see Bill Hamid for the second half? You get 6 substitutions for a reason, use them.
To quote Taylor Twellman: “WHAT ARE WE DOING”?
How in the world does Tim Weah get 4 minutes? 4 minutes? This is only a player that got 10 minutes on PSG’s first team earlier this month! We don’t have a player outside of wonderboy who would even smell PSG’s first team, but no I need to see Nagbe and Wood and guys we know already! Come on Dave, come on!
Moreover, it was a weak, play it safe 4-1-4-1 formation. There was almost no attempt whatsoever to work through the midfield. The plan seemed (to me anyway) to be get it out wide to Kenny Saief or Tyler Adams, hope they make a play (which they often did fairly well) and then hope Bobby Wood finishes (which he could not do). No build up play. No combinations. Little attempt to play through and attack Paraguay, whom seemed perfectly fine to play back and wait for the counter.
As a national team we are never going to get to the ultimate goal of competing with the big boys if we don’t attempt some creatively. I’m not saying we have to be Spain, but there has to be more than get it wide and cross our fingers.
2. USSF is a unorganized mess right now.
See point number one above. How do we allow number 1 to happen? Well I’ll tell you, when you don’t have a general manager or technical director or whatever you want to call it (maybe I’ll call it leadership) running things, organizing things then this is what you get.
Despite the rhetoric of change with the presidential elections in February it has been pretty much all quiet on western front from Carlos Cordeiro and USSF, unless of course they are talking about their World Cup Bid (aka money). We have to get some kind of structured leadership here so we don’t have a lame duck manager trying to win a meaningless friendly like it is the knockout round of the World Cup.
Maybe it’s just me and that’s fine, but I want to see this USMNT actually working on improving the process. From the youth level to the national level and hopefully it will come but in the meantime we are wasting valuable time. Tuesday night could have been a time to see new players for extended stretches yet what we got was conservative play it safe tactics from a coach trying to get a “W” when he should have had instructions to work on development of players and identity and not worry about winning.
3. Matt Miazga is our center back of the future
Ok I’m done with the negativity. Sort of needed to get it out, but it is just so hard to watch this team and federation continue to bungle themselves.
First good thing is that (in my opinion) have found our center back to play alongside John Brooks (assuming healthy) moving forward. Miazga was in complete control of the backline, was great 1 v 1, and showed wonderful touch and skill with the ball (he had this really great Cruyff in the first half). Also, his 1 v 1 denial of that early opening from Paraguay was about as to the book as it gets.
Obviously, we will want to see him play against a more threatening attack, but you have to love what you saw from him Tuesday night.
4. Tyler Adams is Robin (you know Batman is)
No offense to Westin Mckinney, but Adams is now our number 2 superhero. He was for me by far man of the match and the best player on the pitch. Paraguay literally could not cover him and had no other option but then to go complete thug life later in the game.
The guy can probably play anywhere in our loaded midfield which is great and he dangerous from any spot. I can’t wait to see him with Pulisic and Mckinney together on the field at the same time (June?).
5. Kenny Saief was solid and should continue to be called up
I’m not saying he is our winger of the future, but we have to see more of Kenny Saief. He also was very dangerous and creative with the ball at his feet.
Which is why it’s even more puzzling that we didn’t try to play through the midfield. With Saief and Adams we clearly had players capable of working through the middle, but it was clear they were instructed to play out wide and long.