Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts wasn’t a comfortable place to be last Saturday afternoon if you were a fan of the U.S. men’s national soccer team. In the U.S.’s last warm-up game before its CONCACAF Gold Cup opener against Canada, which was scheduled for Tuesday in Detroit, the Americans were humiliated in a lopsided 4-0 defeat at the feet of world champion Spain.
For all intents and purposes, the game was over by halftime when the Spanish racked up three goals by the break: newcomers Santi Cazorla (28th and 41st minutes) and Alvaro Negredo (32nd) put the game away for Spain within a 14-minute period and Fernando Torres finished off the hosts in the 73rd minute.
The fans and soccer purists should take a good, hard look at U.S. coach Bob Bradley’s strategy to start a second string unit against the world champion. It doesn’t make sense to play the best team in the world without the full-strength team that will play in the very important opening game of the Gold Cup. Spain was brought in to determine the measure of the true U.S. squad, so that the coaching staff could have an honest assessment of the first teamers.
This game versus Spain certainly was not the occasion to introduce new players. Going into an important first game of this tournament, the first teamers should go against competition that is far above the level that they will meet in the Gold Cup; a coach should want to see how his team manages the pressure of playing a more skilled and experienced squad; and a thinking coach would like to have his team develop confidence against a team such as Spain that would carry over to the Gold Cup opener versus Canada. Bradley denied the team this experience, which I think would hurt them. Losing begets losing. “It’s not fun to get pounded like that,” U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard said. “We have to pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off.”
Reportedly Landon Donovan was unavailable because of illness and other regulars such as midfielders Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley and defenders Carlos Bocanegra and Steve Cherundolo were sitting. When Bradley did try to put a decent squad on the pitch in the second half, the game was over, little motivation left for players on either side and all was lost for the intended purpose of the game. The U.S. takes on Panama on Saturday and Caribbean runner-up Guadeloupe on Tuesday in Group C.
Jamaica, Grenada Clash
The Caribbean entrants at the Gold Cup kick off on Monday, June 6 when champion Jamaica and Grenada clash to start Group B play at the Home Depot Center in Carson (CA); then in Miami on Friday, June 10, Jamaica plays Guatemala and Grenada takes on Honduras. This Group B play moves to Red Bull Arena in Harrison (NJ) on Monday night for a Caribbean treat as Grenada plays Guatemala (7:00 p.m.) and Jamaica takes on Honduras (9:00 p.m.).
Guadeloupe, in the Gold Cup for the third straight tournament, also plays Panama on Tuesday in Detroit and Canada in Tampa (FL) on Saturday. The Guadeloupe Gwada Boys reached the semi final round in 2007 only to lose to Mexico, 1-0.
Red Bulls Draw
Mehdi Ballouchy put the New York Red Bulls ahead, 1-0, against the Columbus Crew in the ninth minute of play in an MLS contest at Red Bull Arena Saturday night, but the Red Bulls squandered numerous chances and kept the Crew in the game until injury when Rich Balchan scored for the Crew to give the visitors a 1-1 and a valuable point on the road.
In other MLS matchups last week, Chivas USA and Vancouver Whitecaps played to a 1-1 draw on Wednesday; Los Angeles and DC United played goalless on Friday night; on Saturday, Toronto and Sporting KC also played goalless and so did Chicago and Seattle; FC Dallas topped New England, 1-0; Colorado and Philadelphia tied, 1-1; Real Salt Lake beat Vancouver, 2-0; Chivas USA knocked off Portland Timbers, 2-0; and San Jose finished Houston, 2-0.