Despite the scoreline, the USA showed some encouraging signs in their 4-1 defeat against Brazil in Washington D.C. last night.
Regardless as to how well the USA played against Scotland over the weekend, you knew that they would be under signifcantly more pressure on both sides of the ball versus Brazil. The same midfield that dominated the game for long stretches against Scotland had challenges being able to grab a hold of the game and dictate tempo. Saying that, Michael Bradley once again shown positively that he can play a key role as a playmaker and fulcrum in the US midfield. He continues shows poise in possession, as well as the ability to break things up in midfield. Jose Torres and Jermaine Jones - two players who were standouts against Scotland - were up against it quite a bit in this match. Inconsistent performances during the week present that they were maybe not as good as they appeared over the weekend, but also not as poor as they had shown last night.
I wouldn't jump off the US midifield bandwagon just yet - I remember a couple of years ago when the US played Spain in an exhibition and struggled, and a friend criticized how poor Bradley and Co. looked. I reminded him that they were playing against SPAIN, and that any midfielders would have challenges agains the likes of Xavi, Iniesta and Busquets. I like what the US offers in midfield, and if Klinsmann can find the right compliments for Bradley, we could have the makings of something special.
Fabian Johnson appears to be a revelation to the US team at left back, and the US have sorely lacked a key contributor in that role for some time. His ability to bomb down the left flank added combination to a Bradley through ball at the end of the first half, which resulted in a great cross to Hercules Gomez on his goal.
Tim Howard was called on to put out fires on numerous occasions, which is to be expected when playing against the top teams in the world. US coach Jurgen Klinsmann refered to him as 'one of the top 5 goalkeepers in the world' in pre-game, and performances like last night continues to show why that is the case.
Gomez was a bright spot for the US, and created numerous chances all night. A poacher in front of the goal at the domestic level in Mexico, he appears to be a perfect vice for Jozy Altidore in the #9 shirt. He was dangerous throughout the match, and if we can get Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey and Altidore played in as compliments to him, the US attack could be in good shape.
The biggest holes in the US team appear to be in the heart of the defense - Gooch Onyewu really struggled, and Carlos Bocanegra didn't show much better. I was hoping that Klinsmann would give Geoff Cameron, Michael Parkhurst and Clarence Goodson more of a run to measure them against a top opponent, and hope that we'll see more of that prior to the start of qualifying.
This has been an encouraging week for the US, and hopefully they can build off some of these strong signs as we head into World Cup qualifying.