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
Wednesday January 25, 2012 12:16 pm
Parkhurst...dont need him now, defiantly during the last world cup. But Ream and
john will be our next solid starters..thanks.
Tuesday January 24, 2012 12:52 am
Great style of play with good control and defense. Parkhurst and Cameron deserve consideration for permanent spots. Shea played good but was not outstanding. Jones was a great leader and Clark pulled it off at the end. Overall this was a great game with much technical improvement that I did not expect from this group. Klinsmann and staff are teaching these guys well. Pearce, Bunbury and Delagarza did not add much to the game. Zusi deserves another chance. I'm sure coach will shift some players around next game. Now that defense and possession are getting better we can work on finishing off goals. This was a great game for the US, MLS and will help some of those players get a chance to get better and represent the US.

Can't wait for the Panama game
Monday January 23, 2012 4:03 pm
Spot on with Zusi and Pearce. I thought Shea played ok but didnt make the most crucial of plays when he needed to, missed a few finishes and didnt get some crosses in. I thought Bunbury did ok on the night, good hold-up and was creative had a couple decent looks on goal. He was guilty a few times of taking too many touches but a few of those give-aways can be attributed to getting no love from the ref. Parkhurst and Cameron distributed beautifully from the back. I havent seen that for the Nats. I would like to see Lloyd and Clark get the start vs Panama in place of Pearce and Larentowicz who played a bit too safe and negative for me. Everyone else stays. Sub on Sapong for Bunbury at halftime would like to see a bit more of him.
Monday January 23, 2012 3:28 pm
Wait. Did we just play Jermaine Jones as a trequartista?

The mind boggles. I mean, I know we're weak at playmaker but this is just ridiculous. The man is a damn fine destroyer/ball-winner, but his touch is for crap and his distribution only marginally better. This is why Schalke either plays him behind Raul (in a diamond 4-4-2) or next to Holtby or Moritz (in a 4-2-3-1). Let Jones win the ball, then move it off to someone who can do something with it. Granted, against Venezuela he was more than up for the job. I just don't think it'll work against, say, Italy.

Luckily, it looks like Serie A is forging Bradley into something resembling a quality regista. If so we may be able to finally field an effective 4-2-3-1.
J. J.
Monday January 23, 2012 2:49 pm
Wow, I thin k things are resally looking up. I thought the MLS based Nats. looked really good with the exceptions of Zusi and Pearce. I thought Shea played well... not great, but well. If it weren't for a good save by the GK, he socres on that header. One thing I like the most is that the US team has created more chances in all of their matches under JK than ever before. At some point they will start getting more of them in the net, but they had 15 shots on goal ! That is unheard of in the BB or BA coaching eras. They are creating chances and they seem to do so no matter who they put on the field. And YES the prospect of a Onyewu/Cameron pairing on the back line is VERY sexy indeed. They should never loose a ball in the air !
Brad Burgess
Monday January 23, 2012 12:54 pm
What game were you watching? The US dominated almost every aspect of the game. I'm not sure why you are hating on Brek. He was explosive and made great runs all night. I am very excited to see where our national team is going.
Monday January 23, 2012 11:46 am
Yet again the media and the fans talked up Shea so much that they expect him to be great every time he touches the ball. No he didn't have the best performance but neither was he ineffective. He had an average game, and showed flashes of attacking brilliance. It amazes how different these reports differ. They have Shea on here as a 4.5, ESPN he is a 6.5, and at MLS he is a 7.5. Shea had what two to three shots on goal, that hardly deserves a 4.5. Not only that you go on to say that the offense was lacking, really. They had 18 shots to Venezuelas 6. They weren't lacking offensivley they were lacking in finishing. Feilhaber had a good game, but come on he produced one defense splitting pass and that was to Shea. Not only that it's a little hard to dominate the other team when the ball isn't going to Sheas side of the field, nor did Pearce hook up with Shea well either.
Cameron and Parkhurst definitely deserve more looks with the national team going FWD. I like Camerons technical skill with the ball, and he has the speed and size to match up with International FWDS/strikers.
You could tell that Jones was in Mid-season form. Hopefully Klinsmann continues with giving Jones more starts. If Bocanegra starts to be phased out; I wouldn't mind at all for Jones to take up the captains armband. It seems to keep him level headed on the field, and he has natural leadership.
I would very much like to see an Onyewu/Cameron partnership in a friendly game in the future.
Sunday January 22, 2012 7:29 pm
Shea deserved a 6.
Sunday January 22, 2012 4:36 pm
If you hate Shea, and love Clark, then it's opposite day at your house. Clark was rusty, ineffective, and totally unmarked on that corner.
Sunday January 22, 2012 3:56 pm
I, too, thought that this was very harsh on Brek Shea who came the closest to scoring out of everyone before Clark scored. That header was on the money and the shot was just wide. He is still raw and not completely polished but he was our most dangerous player for large portions of the game.
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