So that was the Landon Donovan everybody would like to see on a more consistent basis.
Three goals of variety yesterday in a solid exhibition win over Ecuador who incidentally advanced in the last World Cup before elimination. Yes they were without Augustin Delgado and Ivan Kaviedes but this was a solid win for the United States and manager Bob Bradley.
Some random thoughts:
1. Introduction of new players: It was great to see some new players in the team like Benny Feilhaber (Hamburg) and Michael Bradley (Herenveen). Before we grant them star status let’s remember that they are 22 and 19 years of age and getting games in Germany and Holland at the club level. A good sign. Another good sign is the additionally depth at that holding role in midfield.
Competition is good for all.
2. Brian Ching: Do you want to know why he was picked by Bruce Arena over Taylor Twellman? Yesterday’s game gave you the answer. Ching in a hold-up role offers just that little bit more especially in combination with Landon Donovan. He keeps it simple but just has that little bit extra “soccer player’ in him. His hold up play was excellent with Donovan and his pass superb to on Donovan’s second goal. Ching is simple and is not a player stuck in between about what his strengths are. He is clear on his game and that is why he is effective.
60th minute he worked Donovan into a good goalscoring position to be denied and 6 minutes later Ching put Donovan through for goal number two.
Donovan mentioned to me a few weeks back on my radio show in Houston that Ching was his favorite striker to play with.
Some thought he said that because he was on a Houston talk radio show. Yesterday reminds us he was not being politically correct.
3. Center backs struggle: Oguchi Onyewu and Jimmy Conrad where less than stellar in the first half and without solid goalkeeping from Tim Howard might have been hit for another goal. Enough with the American football comparisons with the “Gooch”. Being big and strong is an asset but you also have to be a soccer player. That being said I am glad he is on the U.S. National team and look forward to watching him grow with his experience at Newcastle United. A reminder that Eddie Pope has retired.
4. Bob Bradley: 3-0 with wins over Denmark, Mexico and Ecuador. A good start for Bradley and it validates him as the top U.S. candidate to coach the team. More importantly yesterday it was impressive to see the focus that Landon Donovan is bringing currently. Bradley has to get his “star” player behind his bid to be the national team coach and it seems in the short term to be working. Deserves credit for the “group” mentality which is a necessity with the U.S. National team.
His weaving of a number of players into the victory only bodes well for harmony.
5. Landon Donovan: When he is on what a player to watch!
Three breath-taking goals ….Three goals of variety exemplifying power, pace, precision. How about the timing of the goals also. In the first minute and then two goals back to back that struck a body blow to Ecuador.
Fact is LD is the greatest attacking soccer player that the United States has ever produced even if he retired today. So how does Bob Bradley get the most out of this talent in the future and get delivered more consistent performance? That is the challenge. Keep him behind a forward or two and we will see the best of Donovan.
Give me your thoughts on the US win over Ecuador yesterday?