Sunday, June 3, 2012

USMNT Draws with Canada in Final Tuneup Before World Cup Qualifying

The USMNT played a scoreless draw against Canada this evening in its final tuneup before World Cup Qualifying begins later this week. The match didn't feature nearly the excitement of the last two friendlies - a blowout win over Scotland and an entertaining defeat at the hands of Brazil where the US could not capitalize on many opportunities. The US mostly looked like an uninspired group tonight, likely due to fatigue as a result of this being their third match in nine days.

Here are my three positives from tonight's match:

1. Clarence Goodson solidified his place in the starting lineup with a stellar performance
There is no doubt who the man of the match was tonight. Clarence Goodson watched as Geoff Cameron and Oguchi Onyewu struggled at centerback alongside captain Carlos Bocanegra in the past two games. Goodson shined in the US victory against Italy in February, but had not seen much action on the national team since. Tonight, Goodson showed poise in the backfield and came closest to scoring, as his header in stoppage time forced the save of the night from Canada's goalkeeper. Klinsmann should partner Goodson with Bocanegra at centerback for the upcoming qualifiers.

2. Jozy Altidore finally got onto the pitchThe drama surrounding Jozy Altidore's release from his Dutch club team to suit up for the USMNT is finally over, as he joined the squad for training a few days ago. He came on as a substitute in the second half tonight and looked active with a few touches and releases down the pitch despite a lack of significant ball movement from the midfield. It will be interesting to see the starting lineup Klinsmann uses in the qualifiers, as Altidore could start or be used as a substitute forward to spell Herculez Gomez.

3. The friendlies are over and World Cup Qualifying begins Friday
Even the most committed fans of the USMNT have to admit that they are over these international friendlies and ready for real, compeitive matches that truly mean something. You got the sense Klinsmann felt that way tonight when he substituted out Landon Donovan in the second half. No way does Klinsmann take out one of his top players in a scoreless match when it counts. We should see a different level of passion and commitment from this team on Friday when they take on Antigua and Barbuda in the first qualifying match for the 2014 World Cup.

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