U.S. v. Ecuador: First Impressions

U.S. 3 - 1 Ecuador
Do you feel the goosebumps? Me too - I think. Here are some questions that come to me as I review what just happened in my head; I'll compare notes with the rest of the world tomorrow.

Good Test? - About midway through the first half, I thought to myself (for the rest of my family doesn't care about such things) this game looked like a very good, very real test for the U.S. Men's National Team (hereafter, the Yanquis). Ecuador, as a team, was big, athletic, and quick; they pressured our players well and, usually, the minute our guys hit the middle third, an Ecuadoran player attached himself to his hip, back, etc. They also showed a capacity for breaking down, or getting around, the U.S. defense. The second half made me wonder a bit, though...

What About Bob? - How hard will it be to fire Yanqui head coach Bob Bradley? He's compiled a 3-0-0 record, with two of those games coming against what the overwhelming majority of observers would dub quality opposition (no offense intended to the Denmark B-Team); by the end of the day Wednesday, he's likely to have a 4-0-0. By my estimation, this should guarantee Bradley the reins for the Gold Cup and Copa America: see how he manages this team through a month-long tournament and you should have some sense (with the hiring of Steve Sampson the exception that proves the rule) of how he'll perform on the biggest stage.

More below....

Who Spike Landon's Wheaties? - This is what U.S. fans want to see from Landon Donovan. He was everywhere, he played aggressive yet loose and and kept his head through three - almost four - top-quality finishes. Even if this is what he can do, there's no reason to expect him to do it every game. Still, it had definitely been a while, so, yeah, this was refreshing, even exhilirating to see Donovan rip the opposition.

Oh, and how many records will this kid hold before his career is over?

How well will this defense gel? - OK, we all got our wish (dammit! we didn't...where was Jay DeMerit? How much longer do I have to endure speculation without hard evidence?): the defense Bradley fielded was basically our best. But they did look pretty haphazard for much of the first half. One of the yo-yos in the booth said something about them still finding their roles - and I think he's right - so I'm thankful they've got three years in which to do it. The only guy who looked totally solid: Jimmy Conrad. I never thought I'd write this - and feel no regret in doing so - but is Conrad the Yanquis' best defender?

And, yeah, Onyewu got cooked on Ecuador's goal...don't blame him too much, though, 'cause it was a slick little move. And seeing him with his shirt off before the game - good Lord, he's massive.

We know the MVP, but who deserves honorable mention? - I liked what I saw from Clint Dempsey; not everything, but he had a pair of good, slashing runs and a pair of effective defensive scraps. Obviously, I thought pretty highly of Conrad. DaMarcus Beasley had a good enough game that I'd like to think he played himself back into everyone's good graces. Ching battled and, if I'm not mistaken, sent Donovan through on the run for the second goal - though he was otherwise a bit marginal.

Who doesn't? - Happily, most people had a good game. If I had to pick somebody, Benny Feilhaber sprayed some bad passes around the middle of the field. But, for all that, he didn't look like he didn't belong.

All for now. Talk more about this tomorrow.

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