BRIAN SCIARETTA - Sunday, January 22, 2012
The USMNT defeated Venezuela on Saturday after struggling to score but eventually finding a late winner through Ricardo Clark.
The United States played well in short stretches but seemed out of synch offensively through most of the night. They were able to create chances against a weak team but only finished once at the end
Here are a few things we learned:
Brek Shea struggled when he should have dominated
Brek Shea is a player that Jurgen Klinsmann wants to have a bigger role on the US team but tonight he was very rusty despite playing with Arsenal in December and playing in three weeks of camp with the US team.
He missed the target early in the first half on a great pass from Benny Feilhaber and he had a header saved on a nice free kick from Graham Zusi. After that, he didn't have much of an impact. This was against a very weak Venezuela team that Shea should dominate.
Brek Shea was a starter for the US national team when Klinsmann took over but the addition of Fabian Johnson has put this in doubt. His performance against Venezuela shows that he still is not where he needs to be for him to be a national team starter.
Benny Feilhaber belongs
It's been awhile since Benny Feilhaber has been with the US national team but he showed vision and skill on Saturday night. His pass to Brek Shea in the first half was the nicest play of the night that didn't come from a set piece.
Feilhaber's problem with the US national team was always consistency but against Venezuela he showed the talent is there. The game against Panama will be important for him.
Michael Parkhurst and Geoff Cameron impressed in central defense
Cameron and Parkhurst both came into Saturday's game after impressive years in 2011 and both showed they belong.
Parkhurst is currently a starter at both right back and central defense for FC Nordsjaelland who are in second place in Denmark and have league's best defense. His distribution and positioning was solid all game.
Cameron also enjoyed a very strong performance as he was composed on the ball and frequently pushed the ball forward from the backline.
Venezuela was a weak team so it wasn't a meaningful test for Cameron and Parkhurst but they showed they deserved more looks in the months ahead.
Jermaine Jones is an imposing force
It was well known heading into Saturday's game that Jones plays the game hard. He is currently serving an eight game suspension for stopping Marco Reus in a game in December.
But Jones is remarkably effective on both sides of the ball. On defense he forced turnovers and while the United States struggled offensively against Venezuela, what little attack they had went through Jones. He continuously pushed the ball forward into the attack and made several good runs into the box.
He also took good corner kicks and it was his last one that found Ricardo Clark for the winner.
Bunbury has his work cut out for him for the Olympics
Bunbury had a very solid outing off the bench last January in a game against Chile and he scored his first international goal on a penalty.
12 months later things were not nearly as good for Canadian-born Bunbury. He has the speed to be dangerous but he was unable to finish or get involved with many goal scoring opportunities.
When Bunbury left the Canadian program and decided to represent the United States internationally in 2010, a driving motivation for him was that it gave him a better opportunity to play in a World Cup and the Olympics.
The problem with the Olympics is that the roster is only 18 players and Bunbury isn't the lock many people thought he once was. Juan Agudelo , Jozy Altidore, and now Terrence Boyd have likely surpassed him on the depth chart.
January friendlies are great opportunities for him to prove himself and make a case to be on the Olympic team. Bunbury didn't make his case against Venezuela so the game against Panama will now be even more important for him
Bill Hamid - 5.5 - Was completely untested
A.J. DeLaGarza - 6 - Started off strong but faded as the game went ot
Heath Pearce - 5 - Wasn't effective
Michael Parkhurst - 6.5 - good distribution and composed. His solid club season carried into the national team. Impressive
Geoff Cameron - 6.5 - Showed he is worth future looks and could be part of Klinsmann's plans in the future.
Jeff Larentowicz - 5- Generally ineffective against a poor opponent.
Graham Zusi - 4.5 - after a few good moments in the opening minutes including a good free kick that Shea should have finished, he struggled and turned the ball over too much
Jermaine Jones - 7 - Man of the Match - Was imposing both offensively and defensively. He plays the game in a hard way but he is effective.
Teal Bunbury - 4.5 - He was not effective despite being faster and more talented than the opposition. He had the opportunities but didn't convert his chances.
Benny Feilhaber- 6.5 - Showed good vision and the ability to move the ball into dangerous positions.
Brek Shea - 4.5 - He had two great opportunities in the first half but then disappeared. He has the ability to dominate a weak Venezuela team but failed to do so.
Ricardo Clark- 6.5 - Very nice to see him score the goal after a difficult two years since the 2010 World Cup.
Chris Wondolowski - 5.5 - Was able to get himself into dangerous positions but once again failed to convert good chances.
Zach Loyd - 6.0 - was lively getting forward. He sent in a few good crosses and looked more effective than Heath Pearce who he replaced in the 74th minute
CJ Sapong - NR
Brad Evans - NR