Good coaches always make adjustments. Bob Bradley has run into a mini crisis of sorts. We can argue that this is the B team and to expect any better would be a miracle. But we have Eddie Johnson, Taylor Twellmen, Kasey Keller, Jimmy Conrad, Ben Olsen, Jay DeMerit, Benny Feilhaber, Jonathan Bornstein, who have found a place in the first squad at some point in time.
Irrespective of personnel, it is the failure to convert goal scoring chances or to get that extra step to prevent a defensive lapse occurring that seems to be a recurrent theme. Football basics. Mental errors. This is the coaches prerogative. Bradley has been found wanting in this Copa. We can point to a number of such mistakes in the Gold Cup even while winning the title. On the other hand, our rivals Mexico can seriously argue that they also came in weakened with injuries and fatigue, down after the Gold Cup loss, despite all that they are riding high into the quarterfinals.
The composition of this Copa America team is debatable. Bradley's intentions have been unclear. If this is indeed about giving the second stringers international exposure then why have a relatively experienced strike corps in Eddie Johnson and Taylor Twellmen with 56 caps backed up by a midfield with only Ben Olsen having substantial experience. Bradley should have started strikers Lee Nguyen, Hercules Gomez or Charlie Davis. And one can see the Copa America organizers point of view questioning the US on its lack of commitment to the tournament. As an invitee this was a golden opportunity to play your best team against some of the best teams in the world and we did not take it. At a minimum it would have established a baseline against quality opposition because we have a pretty good idea of our CONCACAF standing.
Eddie Johnson is not the answer to our attacking woes. He is too capricious a striker to pin our hopes on. He can be on fire for a game and fade entirely in the next, even when good service is provided. He is not even a Pippo Inzaghi whose transparent MO works on hedging the offside trap and slipping one in on a nanosecond delay.
With nothing left to lose against Colombia Bradley needs to go all out with giving this youth squad as much international experience. Start Lee Nguyen, Charlie Davis as the strikers, Sacha Klejstan and Eddie Gaven in midfield, and defenders Heath Pearce and Drew Moor. Brad Guzan should start in place of Kasey Keller.
Group C: USA meets Colombia
Venue: Estadio Metropolitano de Futbol de Lara, Barquisimeto, Venezuela
Date and Time: 18:35 ET / 22:35 GMT, Thursday, July 5, 2007