U.S. v. Ecuador: Round-Up/Apology to Feilhaber

I feel compelled to 1) point out that Throughball posted a video of the goals from the game, and 2) that I still don't know how to post video. Moving on...

After reading more than I ever wanted to about the U.S. Men's National Team's (aka, Yanquis) 3 - 1 win over Ecuador, I'm going to compare what I saw against what everyone else did...and it won't always make for pretty viewing. I'll link to everything I read below - and a lot of it is quite good - but will start with a re-evaluation of my original analysis....

...which starts with an excuse. I was highly distracted during viewing. To begin, the 9 a.m. start wasn't helpful. I was up, down, out of the room, chasing my kid, sitting another, etc. etc.

I mention this only because what everyone has written positively-to-the-point-of-man-crush about Benny Feilhaber. In my original analysis, I pointed to him as the one guy not deserving of "honorable mention," which I now see runs counter to nearly unanimous opinion. Based on that, I can only conclude that I saw more of the stray passes he managed in the first half than I did of what everyone else saw - specifically when Michael Bradley entered the game; a lot of observers viewed that as a turning point in the game. This, to me, recommends talking up Bradley as opposed to Feilhaber, but, given all I missed, I'm not up for strong statements.

And though I was only dimly aware as to when Michael Bradley came on, I certainly noticed that the U.S. took charge of the game by the second half; it wasn't just the score, but the possession and momentum. So, I'll pay closer attention to the Bradley/Feilhaber thing in future - assuming I get a shot at it.

Other areas of (relative) disagreement:

Clint Dempsey: I thought he did pretty well. I can remember a pair of intelligent, effective runs to match the wayward jogs to the corner that everyone else saw; I also remember two solid, successful defensive battles. No, Clint didn't dominate, but he was hardly anonymous - and, yeah, he exposed Cherundolo more than a little - but I basically liked what I saw and wonder about the extent to which Dempsey labors under, shall we say, Donovan-sized expectations.

Jimmy Conrad: If there was a defender who bailed out the rest when things went wrong, it was Conrad. It's undeniable that the defense didn't look good, particularly in the first half, and that's Conrad's responsibility as much as anyone's. But, his problems with foot-speed aside, I still thought he had the best day at the back and still count him the most reliable defender so far in the current World Cup cycle.

DaMarcus Beasley: I can only say I thought he had a good game. Really. But only one other guy saw that: Ives Galarcep (LINK - see the 67th minute).

All in all, I think some of my first impressions held: it's harder to fire Bradley; Donovan had a great game, but it's only the first step to restoring his reputation; Ecuador is a good team, which people ought to remember when they're criticizing our defense - it's not like this was my old indoor team or anything.

Looking forward to Wednesday, now. I'll be shocked if Bob doesn't make it 4-0-0. Speaking of Bob, USSoccerplayers.com's Jay Hutcherson had by far the most novel take on where he sits with regard to the coaching position; it comes very close to stating outright that getting the job is out of Bradley's hands. Finally, I couldn't hear a word of the commentary - between the kids crawling around my ankles (mentioned above) and my wife planning a birthday party, I didn't hear anything more than a stray line.

Now, the rest of the links (and the odd response from me):

Jen Chang: Part of the Landon love-fest, but there's also love for the Bradley/Feilhaber midfield pairing. (Don't we always get over-excited based on these first impressions?)

Jeff Carlisle: The first place I saw mention of Michael Bradley's impact on the game; also digs into the extent to which Sunday's performance vindicates Donovan. Also credits the "Other Bradley" (Bob) for getting things settled for the second half; it seems he's done this in each of the three games he's coached.

Soccer America turned in both an analysis and grade sheet; the analysis praises the way both central pairings (Donovan/Ching; Feilhaber/Bradley) clicked and they gave Feilhaber high marks (all right, all right...I fucking missed it!)

USSoccerplayers.com's Ken Pendleton wins for most apt description of the game's first half:

"In the first half, the US lacked any semblance of balance. They looked dangerous every time they came forward, but vulnerable every time Ecuador did the same."

Moving now to blogs, An American's View highlighted the defensive errors, dissed Deuce, and added to the widespread love for Bradley-Feilhaber. My Soccer Blog weighed in with grades and analysis, most of which matched everyone else's thinking (though he rated Bradley higher than Feilhaber, which, to my distracted eye, makes sense; he pooped on Deuce too).

On the less thorough side of blog reviews are contributions from Quarter Volley (bashes Dave O'Brien), DCenters (who was underwhelmed), and the Real Salt Lake Blog (who shortened a favorite word, "mofugly," to "fugly" in summing up the game).

That's all...and that's enough.

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