Eddie Johnson disappears again

Tentative. That is the word to describe the US, especially in the second half.
I think Bob Bradley needs to have a talk with Eddie Johnson. Time for Bradley to coach the team which means a heart to heart with the hottest player in the MLS. The man can do no wrong in his domestic appearances scoring nine goals and leading KC all the way to the top of the table but when it came to playing against Guatemala, he appeared afraid to come anywhere near the ball. Lets face it, when a player like Johnson is introduced, you don’t expect a whole lot of time wasted getting into the stride of the game. The man is supposed to get at the end of the ball in next to no time with his speed. But assertiveness has been a problem for Johnson through his career and it was missing again especially dealing with a thicket of defenders crowding the goal.
Bradley faces his first real tough challenge in shaping this US team. We saw a lot of what is wrong yesterday and it had little to do with referee Jose Pineda, although he was a wee bit selective in issuing cards. The US just fell apart in the second half and they were lucky to escape with a win because the Guatemalans could not capitalize on their chances. Gooch got sent off for his foul on Carlos Ruiz who spent most of the time on his back. A player as physically imposing as Gooch will always come off second best when the referee has to decide fouls. Plus, Gooch is not the quickest of thinkers and it is time to bring on Jay De Merit, solid as a substitute, as the starting right back.
Taylor Twellman has his limitations but his goal poaching instincts are impeccable and yesterday he turned provider for Dempsey’s flick into goal. Dempsey again showed why he is the best weapon that the US have in their arsenal. But up front is where the US went all horribly awry after that little bit of magic. They missed a number of chances to put away the game.
The biggest question is Landon Donovan. He is responsible for diagramming plays. Bradley started him on the right but he was off his rhythm when the game got physical, as the Guatemalans collapsed the space around him quickly in the second half. He was rarely able to get off a quality pass or cross. Donovan is better served as the slot striker where his vision will be useful in creating chances from deeper in the field.
Benny Feilhaber had a very good game and he was useful on both ends of the ball. Da Marcus Beasley also created a number of chances down the left with his quickness although he does have problems staying on his feet. He gets knocked down a lot and easily. Not ideal against more physical opponents. Most of Guatemala’s attack came from the right through speedy Marvin Avila and Leonel Noreiga but Carlos Bocanegra and Jonathan Bornstein policed them effectively.
The US looked very effective and self assured when patient, playing their short passing game which they seemed to abandon in the second half, as Guatemala ratcheted up the physicality. Lets hope they can stick to that plan when playing T&T who are missing most of their World Cup stars.

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2 comments on “Eddie Johnson disappears again
  1. I disagree with the idea that Eddie “disappeared” against Guatemala. He came on in the 61st minute with a one goal lead then the US soon went a man down. So Eddie was resigned to playing with his back to goal, holding up the ball and wasting time to take the pressure of our defense. Sure it would have been nice to get a second goal to kill the game off but I think he did exactly what Bob would have wanted him to do, which was to keep possession more than attack based on the situation we were in. I hope we do get to see him in a more attack-minded role at some other point in the Gold Cup or CA.

  2. Tom,
    EJ was introduced to get that second goal. If you want someone to take pressure of by keeping possession of the ball then a player like EJ is not the player you would want to introduce. Another midfielder like Steve Ralston or a defender like Jay De Merit would do.
    I think there is a mental block in EJ that gets in the way of him performing to his potential in international matches. Bob Bradley has to find what that is. I agree EJ is too talented a striker to give up on.

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