Saturday September 3rd, 2011

Three quick thoughts following the U.S.' 1-0 loss to Costa Rica on Friday night ...

This was a setback for new coach Jurgen Klinsmann. The U.S. dominated for most of the first 30 minutes but somehow couldn't manage a goal (Landon Donovan missed a golden chance), but after that the tempo was often controlled by an experimental Costa Rica team playing under an interim coach. The U.S. wasn't playing exactly the same as Spain's tiki-taka passing style in the first half-hour, but it wasn't far from it. Midfielder José Torres keyed that on-the-ground attack and was the most positive aspect of the night. But Donovan was largely anonymous, and the U.S.' flank play petered out as the second half progressed, especially on the right side. Poor team defense doomed the U.S. on Costa Rica's goal: nobody pressured the passer, and center backs Carlos Bocanegra and Michael Orozco Fiscal didn't communicate well as Álvaro Saborío broke through on the run that led to the goal.

DAVIS: U.S. player ratings

The U.S.' search for a left back continues. It's fair to say at this point that Edgar Castillo doesn't look like the answer at the left back spot, which has been an ongoing headache for the U.S. team over the years. After a weak performance against Mexico last month, Castillo was beaten on defense, lost passes to the other team and (although he did get forward a few times) showed he could not cross the ball with competence. Where should the U.S. look for a left back? Perhaps Eric Lichaj, who did OK at that spot during the Gold Cup. Newcomer Fabian Johnson is also capable of playing the position once his national switch goes through from Germany and he's able to play in a U.S. uniform. Other possibilities: Bobby Convey, Carlos Bocanegra, DaMarcus Beasley, Todd Dunivant.

Orozco Fiscal? There's going to be some trial and error as the new coaching staff gets going, and some players are going to work out: Until he tired in the second half, Brek Shea was useful going down the left flank, beating defenders and serving crosses into the box. But it's hard to understand what the coaching staff sees in Orozco Fiscal to even have him in the squad, much less starting the last two games ahead of Tim Ream, Clarence Goodson and Omar González (who's having a terrific year for Los Angeles and wasn't called into this camp). Orozco Fiscal only lasted one year in MLS for Philly before being dropped, and he has done little for club or country since to show that he deserves this chance. He has decent physical strength, but he doesn't pass the ball as well as Ream, doesn't communicate as well as Goodson and doesn't have the towering presence of González. We'll see if those other three center backs get a chance in the near future for Klinsmann, especially after a disappointing night on Friday.

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