I won’t deny that it was an exciting run. A top 16 finish is respectable. And I love our “never say die,” attitude.
But the U.S.’s anticlimactic loss to Ghana (thanks again to sloppy central defenders conceding early goals) means only one thing: the team failed to realize their potential. Aka they underachieved. At the very least they’re were capable of making the quarterfinals (if not the semis). And my stomach turns thinking of how they just squandered the most favorable bracket ever at a World Cup.
So to help me cope, I’m naming everything that annoyed me about the United States’ premature exit from the 2010 World Cup. Here goes (in no particular order):
- Forwards not scoring goals. Although I think most of our forwards do a swell job holding up the ball so midfielders can get in on the action, they’re pretty mediocre at scoring goals.
- Central defenders attacking too much. The United States Soccer Federation should impose a new rule for central defenders: They should never be allowed to cross the half line, maybe even the half circle. Our defenders pushed forward way too much this tournament, and we got punished for it. Again. And again. And Again. Play defense, please.
- Central defenders not defending. Stay in front of your guy, and don’t let him score. If you’re playing against Messi, I’ll be forgiving. But our central defense gave up numerous sloppy goals this tournament.
- Edson Buddle not given enough playing time. Coach Bob Bradley virtually benched our hottest forward throughout the tournament. Yes, Buddle got a few minutes here and their as a late sub, but he was never allowed to find his groove. Even more amazing was that the dude was a blade of grass away from scoring a hat trick against Australia just five days before the start of the tournament. For shame.
- Coach Bradley’s player management. Our coach obviously has favorites that keep him from objectively fielding the most talented team. It wasn’t the team’s fault that Bradley started Clark over Edu, Findley over Buddle, or failing to sub out a fatigued Alitdore against Ghana. Nor was it Clark’s, Findley’s, or Altidore’s fault. It was Bradley’s fault. Time and time again throughout this World Cup, he dorked around with his lineup instead of letting the team gel.
There are many more idiosyncrasies that bug me. But the above are clearly the worst offenders.
Ah, well. There’s always next year. Or not.