There were no goals, and few quality scoring chances, only question marks and some concern for the U.S. national team as it heads toward World Cup qualifying following Sunday's 0-0 draw against Canada.
Credit to the Canadians, they stayed organized and compact and never let the Americans get comfortable in the final third. The result was a game where the USA enjoyed an edge in possession, but mustered fewer truly dangerous chances than Canada did.
Here is my Fox Soccer column on Sunday's game, which talks about, among other things, Jurgen Klinsmann's decision to build such a busy schedule and then run most his starters through it in order to try and replicate the conditions of a tournament.
Does the draw mean the USA is in trouble heading into qualifying? Not really. But the result does raise some fresh questions about the state of the team as we sit a year away from the Hex, and two years away from the 2014 World Cup. The U.S. team is very much a work in progress, and the recently friendlies have only served to magnify that fact.
Here are some other quick thoughts looking back at Sunday's match:
Here are my Fox Soccer post-match grades for the USA in the Canada match. Having had a better chance to digest the results of the match, and watch some of the action over again I'd say I probably graded Edgar Castillo a bit too high and Michael Bradley a bit too low. I still think Castillo was better than many are giving him credit for being. Way too many are pointing to the turnover he committed on Canada's disallowed goal. The fact is Canada was whistled for a foul against Castillo before the goal play began, and the linesman raised his flag. American players can be seen halting play as that sequence went on, so to still discuss the disallowed goal as some sort of robbery against Canada just doesn't fly. You can argue whether the foul on Castillo was a legit call, but you can't argue that the flag was raised and players were aware of this fact and briefly stopped playing as Canada's players kept going. We will never know if Canada still scores a goal if the flag is never raised, and for that reason it doesn't make much sense to keep harping on about the disallowed goal.
Is Edgar Castillo as good as Fabian Johnson? Certainly not. Is he better than Eric Lichaj? I still don't think so even though Klinsmann seems to disagree. These things being said, I still think Castillo showed signs of why Klinsmann liked him, and I think he fared better than he's being given credit for. He did better than most (including myself) expected him to do as a late fill-in for Fabian Johnson.
Clarence Goodson was very good, but we need to consider a few things. First, Canada played a variation of a 4-3-3, with Dwayne DeRosario and Tousaint Ricketts deployed wide. This left Olivier Occean to battle with the USA centerbacks, a challenge Carlos Bocanega spent more time on. This left Goodson with the freedom to help defend, break up plays and distribute. He did all these things very well, but again, we must consider the role and the degree of difficult of that role before anyone starts calling Goodson a defensive juggernaut. What Goodson did show is poise and confidence, which at the moment is enough to keep him in the starting lineup.
As I stated in my Fox Soccer column, I think the team was tired, and I think Landon Donovan was clearly tired. Blame for that falls on Klinsmann for playing three friendlies in nine days AND playing many of his starters in all three matches. Nothing wrong with scheduling friendlies, but to have his starters play so many minutes in all of them definitely opens Klinsmann up for some criticism. The five days off before the Antigua & Barbuda match should help the USA recover and look better on Friday.
Lastly, I'm not sure why people are writing off the 4-4-2. Dempsey spent too much time dropping deep for Sunday's formation to really be called a 4-4-2. Look for Jozy Altidore and Herculez Gomez to start alongside each other in a 4-4-2 on Friday.
What did you think of the match? Who impressed you the most? Who concerns you the most with the way they looked on Sunday?
Share your thoughts below.