When it comes to USMNT, this is the inexperience of the World Cup
USMNT fans on the eve of this World Cup had some cognitive dissonance, ignoring the fact that they showed up with the most inexperienced squad possible. Previously, only Deandre Yedlin had ever been in the World Cup squad and he was hardly anywhere near the first 11. It also has a first-time manager doing this, so he’ll also learn from the job (although he should’t be allowed to work anymore if he continues). subtitle in Jordan Morris instead of Gio Reynabut we’ll come back to that when I swing the club overhead.)
That means they can look like anything from minute to minute. They can play in the first half and they look poised, controlled and confident. Which they did. While Wales as a rule always gives their opponents space to find their rhythm, because all they want to do is defend and then counter-attack, the United States has found more opportunities than Wales. Wanted. They spent a lot of time breaking through the Welsh defense, moving the ball from side to side, but they were able to come into play when space opened up. Weston McKennie is moving wide to the right to support Sergino Dest while allowing Tim Weah to make runs behind the backline (though he should have done a bit more). Christian Pulisic is looking for openings in front of the full-back and behind the Wales midfield. He is connecting with Musah and Antonee Robinson and creating small opportunities for all of them.
What the US has done really well is take advantage of Gareth Bale and Daniel James up front, and any Wales midfield, so on rare occasions Wales have the ball and find a way to react. attack, they were thwarted. The ball goes back to the United States to try again. Bale really can’t beat the defense with speed anymore, and while James can, he is… how to put it?..loser. America doesn’t have to fear being beaten in the first leg or by long balls, because they can clear it. And they did. Wales only knows how to break the ball and organize the defense.
And they engaged Wales competently enough to do this:
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Sargent to Pulisic to Weah and pick it out. It makes you wonder what the US could do if they moved the ball faster and more often, but having complete control of the game isn’t such a bad thing. Sure, they could have played more ball for Weah up front or tried to make a quicker change, but lead 1-0 at half-time without facing a shot on target or even anything. anything close to hitting the mark, with Gareth Bale just a rumor, is all you’d ask.
But then another 45 minutes.
In a vacuum, wanting to counterattack when Wales came looking for an equalizer was a great plan. But it was an excellent plan for the last 10-15 minutes, not the whole game. And what the United States lacks, what Musah or Adams or Reyna may become someday but not now, is the decisive quarterback and forcing whatever tempo is needed. In the second half, the United States needed a guy whose proverb is “putting his foot on the ball” and opening the game in the face of growing Welsh pressure. Someone who forces the rest of the team to play ball around, is the relief valve for growing anxiety and calms things down. Sure, there are counter opportunities, but you have to pick them up when they’re clear. Sometimes, the United States was in too much of a hurry to be on the counter when it wasn’t offered. Just hold the ball. America has no sitting midfielder who can fulfill this obligation, unless they can somehow reduce the age of Michael Bradley or Maurice Edu by 10 years. This is just what happens when you bring a team of kids to this tournament.
That’s not to say there’s no window, and the US just picked the wrong pass too many times or missed the right pass just enough to not end the game. At this level, there is no unlimited supply of good looks you get. You have to choose precisely between making a six-yard cross or taking a setback. You must connect. It only takes one right to end a match like this, but a team must earn that right from a limited supply.
All that said, the US still has Wales basically within reach. While the Dragons held the ball a lot of the time, they created only two chances from the same corner, with Matt Turner brilliantly saving Ben Davies’ shot and then the next corner being hit by Kieffer Moore. The beginning when Turner also decided to make a swing on the ball looks likely to be contagious among goalkeepers so far this tournament. It was 64 minutes. Wales had no other chance…until…
There’s no reason for Walker Zimmerman to take on this challenge. to sue with his back to the goal and he was restrained. But this was the biggest match of Zimmerman’s life, on a stage he had never seen. Chemicals are there to do something rash, and voila. It’s hard to get too mad at him for that, because this is how players learn, but this is the most frustrating time to learn a lesson. The US also fell asleep on the throw-in just before that, something an inexperienced and tired team could only do.
Yes, the United States should have shown more when facing Wales in the second half. They dropped the ball, and the Welsh midfield had more time to get it to Moore, where in the first half, with every first touch, they were hit with a strong loop. Moore could then become the focal point for Wales to advance in attack. America runs out of energy? Young players tend to be full of nervous energy, which is what drains them the most. There’s no other reason this team would run out of gas after an hour.
So how about now? It looks like this group will get to the point where either or both Wales and the US can beat Iran and have goal difference. It’s hard to see how the US could stop Britain from being ahead for 90 minutes, after they let a rather limited Welsh team grow sizable after just 45 minutes. He will leave more space for counter-attacks, but you still have to defend first. Britain has a lot of weapons from so many angles.
It hardly ends. It will just be a winding road. But the USMNT never knew any other way.