BRIAN SCIARETTA - Saturday, June 9, 2012
The United States earned three points in their opening World Cup qualifier with a 3-1 win over Antigua and Barbuda but the team struggled in many areas of the game.
The US got on the board quickly in the 9th minute when forward Herculez Gomez flicked on a corner. Antigua keeper Molvin James tried to collect the ball but it fell to US captain Carlos Bocanegra who buried the shot.
The US team dominated possession but it wasn't until the 44th minute when they would extend their lead. On the play Landon Donovan was brought down in the box and was awarded a penalty. On the ensuing kick, Clint Dempsey stepped up and converted with a hard shot down the middle.
In the 64th minute Antigua and Barbuda cut the deficit to 2-1 when Peter Byers took advantage of poor defending from Oguchi Onyewu by dribbling around the Sporting Lisbon defender and firing a shot past Tim Howard from 10 yards.
In the 71st minute the US would move up 3-1 when Herculez Gomez pounced on a scramble in front of the net and shot past an out of position James from close range.
The US team failed to impress against a team widely viewed to be the poorest in the semifinal round of CONCACAF. The US outshot Antigua 17-5 but were unable to break through the Antiguan defense frequently despite their advantage in talent.
Most notably the US was unable to control the wide play and stretch the defense. Antigua defended the middle well and the US insisted on attacking crowded middle nearly every time.
The US will now have to regroup for an important game on Tuesday away at Guatemala. Playing on the road in CONCACAF has always been a difficult task for the American team and Tuesday will be a test.
The US will likely be without left backs Fabian Johnson, Edgar Castillo, and Jose Torres who played left back against Antigua but who left the game injured.
The US is attempting to qualify for its seventh straight FIFA World Cup in Brazil 2014.