The US Men’s National Soccer Team took on Antigua & Barbuda today in their first qualifying match for the 2014 World Cup. The final result was US 3, Antigua & Barbuda 1. This is actually the first time I got to see a US Men’s game live under the guidance of head coach Jurgen Klinsmann and I was eager to see how they would perform on the field. While I enjoyed watching the game quite a bit I was surprised at how much trouble Antigua & Barbuda gave the US. To be honest I was not expecting A&B to be much of an obstacle but they managed to make things interesting.
The weather was absolutely terrible in Tampa, FL where the match was held. Heavy rain was falling for almost the entire game drenching the players and the exuberant crowd. The rain, however, did absolutely nothing to dampen the spirits of the spectators who kept up the chorus of boos, chants and overall u-rah-rah-USA atmosphere going the entire 90 minutes.
Hopefully this game will be a learning experience for the US team and a spring board to tighten up their gameplay. Overall I was quite pleased with their performance despite the terrible pitch conditions. I also found the choice of starting Herculez Gomez to be a positive one. Gomez scored the third goal of the evening – which I believe was his first on the international stage. We will see if he continues to start or if Jozy Altidore starts instead. Klinsmann seems to be playing with his line-ups a bit so players could be moved around as he finds the most optimal starting 11.
I think I am leaning towards Gomez starting after seeing his performance today. They may need to make some changes in the defense lineup as well. Onyewu had some shaky moments that left holes in the defense that A&B exploited. Holes in the defense aren’t something the US can afford moving forward in the qualifyers as they come up against tougher teams. This world cup I am expecting them to make it out of the group stage referees’ calls or not *stares.*
USA Line-up: 1-Tim Howard; 6-Steve Cherundolo, 21-Clarence Goodson, 3-Carlos Bocanegra (capt.), 16-Jose Torres (5-Oguchi Onyewu, 57); 7-Maurice Edu , 4-Michael Bradley, 13-Jermaine Jones (18-Terrence Boyd, 81); 10-Landon Donovan, 8-Clint Dempsey, 9-Herculez Gomez (17-Jozy Altidore, 80)
P.S. My sister kindly informed me that no, this was not Gomez’ first international goal. Learn something every day. 😛