A) The USA with their below full strength team played patient ball control. They took their time to build up their attack. Having no Donovan and Davies meant that the US had to give up their fast counterattacking edge. But the tactical switch was achieved quite effectively showing that the US is capable of this approach.
B) Fluid, one touch football in midfield considering the Slovaks were pretty physical tacklers. Some of the link up play was truly inspiring between Bornstein and Dempsey, Bradley and Feilhaber.
C) Michael Bradley dropped back to holding midfield from his previous high position where he was less effective. Benny Feilhaber showed some good creative touches. Robbie Rogers brought energy down the right flank. Clint Dempsey looked involved for a change, a contrast from his usual waxing and waning self. On defense I think Jonathan Spector did very well as a makeshift central defender alongside Carlos Bocanegra. Brad Guzan brought of some fine saves.
A) No one came close to being Charlie Davies’s replacement . Conor Casey was a non-factor. Eddie Johnson’s return was unmemorable. He stayed too far up field with the Slovaks able to cut off service. When he did get it he always seemed a step slower or not physical enough. Jeff Cunningham was bumped off the ball easily. One Charlie Davies attributes was his strength. Although short he was strong as a bull and kept his legs moving making it hard to dispossess him of the ball. Robbie Findley looks like he has fewer competitors.
B) The US could not leverage their impressive advantage in ball possession in the last third of the field against a well organized and compact back four led by Martin Skrtel. This is a potential drawback. They face a similar set against Denmark led by Christian Poulsen, a familiar hard man in European circles. Outlet passes were rare and the US were forced into long distance potshots. The more free wheeling CONCACAF defenses provide far more opportunities.
C) Jonathan Bornstein. He got beaten for speed against Vladimir Weiss who was was going to milk that foul. The penalty was the difference. Bornstein who has switched back and forth from attacking midfielder to left back in a trend started by Bradley when he was Chivas’s coach is a bit like Spurs Gareth Bale. He shows good attacking instincts and scores some big time goals but he does not track back enough and his tackling skills are suspect. However in all fairness there are few good options. It continues to be a position of weakness for the US.
Vladimir Weiss Sr and Jr prevailed over Bob and Michael Bradley in the father – son showdown. The match was attended by 7200 fans, a big letdown considering this was the first encounter between the two countries. Maybe it was disapproval at Eli Roth’s gothic horror stories of Bratislava or the cold or that there was not much at stake. Or a combination. But I have heard more noise in a New York anti gentrification street fair.