Usually, I hate International breaks. They're generally filled with any team you'd like to watch playing 11 guys who earn paychecks from another job and winning 4-0 by halftime before everyone spends the second 45 looking at their watch waiting for it to all end. Other than that, you get panic from set of fans when they biff what seemed to be an easy match, or only win by two or something. I just want to get back to LFC and the normal routine.
But this one, even including the US loss (we'll get to that in a minute), I've enjoyed not having LFC around. Because after yet another summer with a new managerial hire, the usual angst about players out and players....not it, the stumbling start to the season and trying to figure out how bad it actually is, I haven't minded getting an early break from it all. We can worry about it again Wednesday.
So what went down during the weekend?
-Well, my beloved Yanks lost for the first time to Jamaica. At first blush after the match, I was in a froth. Perhaps I had fooled myself into thinking that the US was deeper than Donovan and Bradley, but they're not really. Plus, and this is probably a weak excuse, but with the new system Jurgen Klinsmann wants to employ where they actually try and keep the ball, they're going to run into problems away from home. Quite simply, other than Mexico and possibly a trip to Toronto, the US isn't going to find a field that isn't kind of a mess. Part of the way things work in this part of the world. They found it in Guatemala, and they found it at The Office.
Did they lose because of the bumpy pitch? No. They lost because they trotted out three defensive midfielders who aren't quick and aren't good distributing the ball from that point. The defense was never actually breached, but the midfield spent the entire night chasing counter-attackers and Jamaican midfielders. Kyle Beckerman can barely keep up at an MLS pace. At an international level? Duck. Jermaine Jones's value has been inflated by Michael Bradley covering up all his warts. He fouls a lot and can't place a pass. Maurice Edu's future might just lie at centerback. The only other guy who might have made a difference is Stuart Holden, and he's made of fairy dust and children's hopes and dreams.
There are some players younger who should get a shot. I know he's biffed pretty much every chance he's had at this level, but Jose Torres is still the most comfortable on the ball and has rarely gotten a look in the middle with two holders behind him. Luis Gil at Real Salt Lake is overdue a look. Could Danny Williams really be worse?
In the end, we'll barely remember this loss. The Yanks have two home games left, and any home game in CONCACAF should be a banker. Just those six points would be enough to get through to the hexagonals, but combined with an away game to the minnows of the group Antigua almost assures it. And a better pitch will help, but putting something other than three blunt objects in the midfield will help more.
-England beat up on some people from a place you'll probably never go, as they tend to do. Then everyone got hurt, as they tend to do. Now Raheem Sterling is with the senior squad without appearing for the U-21's. But don't worry, Roy Hodgson would never play a player with flair and imagination and pace. Hopefully just a learning experience for him.