Thoughts on USMNT, Portugal

Unfiltered thoughts from today’s draw:

Evan Horvath’s blunder in the first half was huge, of course. However, that he made that particular mistake isn’t what’s as worrisome to me. It’s that it seemed symptomatic of a greater issue: mediocre hands. Coming from the world of (American) football, we call wide receivers like Horvath “double catchers.” He doesn’t seem to get a clean grip on the ball the first time around, and has to make a second stab at it… or let it dribble between his legs for a goal.

That’s not to say we should write him off by any stretch. In fact, it might not even be a consistent issue over time, just a bad play in a mediocre game. His form has struggled in Belgium lately, and there are confidence issues to go along with the nerves of a top opponent in his second cap. I’ve been a major proponent of a youth movement in goal (as captain of the Brad Guzan Haters Club and also a dude who has just noticed that Tim Howard has gotten pretty old), and let’s not bury a kid with so little evidence.

Weston McKennie’s goal was a thing of beauty. He got the ball in space, yes, but the cutback against a defender and then finishing to the near post after sending the keeper wide… that’s something not a whole lot of midfielders in the US player pool are going to be able to do consistently. That’s especially true of guys who are going to be 24 when the next World Cup rolls around – and in his first cap.

Not exactly breaking new ground here, but Fox putting Bruce Arena on the game coverage is nothing short of insulting. Little things like that play a role in holding soccer back in this country. A small role, and much smaller than things like “hiring him as the national team coach,” but a role nonetheless.

The Yanks poured the pressure on goal early in the second half. Against lesser goalkeeping, they might have had one or two more.

I liked Matt Miazga’s performance (as an ephemeral Michigan guy, he’s going to get a soft whistle from me, so to speak), but the shove on John Brooks’s would-be goal showed his youth. It was simply an unnecessary play, and took a goal off the scoreboard.

DeAndre Yedlin has improved a lot in on-ball defense. He’s still a really fast attacker charging up the wings. He can’t cross tho.

Lynden Gooch provided some excitement, though not a whole lot in the final third (it seemed more as a matter of circumstance than his ability), It’ll be interesting to watch his progression, and I’d like to see him in a game against lesser competition where he can shine a bit more. He pushed the ball up the sidelines nicely, and left some Portuguese midfielders in his dust.

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