Which U.S. National Team Players Helped Their World Cup Chances Last Night?
Chris Wondolowski has a ton of ground to make up in the battle to get to Brazil, but his performance last night helped out immensely. Wondo found himself in a great position on the USA’s second goal. He ghosted into the blind spot of two Mexican defenders, and was able to do what every good poacher does, score a goal with an inch of separation. The San Jose forward has scored more goals then any other player in the MLS over the last four years, but has struggled when it comes to the international game. So, if he can continue contributing at the international level as he did last night, the future is promising.
Additionally, it was good to see Wondo dropping in to the midfield and defensively breaking up the Mexican attack. This type of small, but imperative contribution is a good sign for the forward. It can be speculated that the U.S. will play with a lone striker during the World Cup, and the most important aspect of that player will be his holdup play as a target man. Wondo has, and continued to prove last night that he is more than capable of providing quality in that portion of the game.
Sometimes the best defense is a good offense, and that is exactly where Michael Parkhurst fits. Parkhurst, who has Champions League experience, did a great job last night in possession. He cleaned up the ball well and proved why he is the best option the U.S. has in distributing the ball out of an outside back position. The typical knock on Parkhurst is his lack of physicality, and he was not exposed last night, even though it was against an undermanned and B-team Mexican squad. This leaves the question of whether or not he can compete athletically with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo or Mesut Ozil.
Julian Green, the newest savior of American football, made his debut last night with huge expectations on his back. Before we go any further, let’s get something straight — Green was not exceptional in the match, but did show the maturity and confidence to take people on, an attribute few Americans posses. There were a number of defensive situations in which Green was out of place or physically overcome, but what should stick in your mind are the flashes of his potential. Never during the game did you say that the game was beyond his capabilities. I remember watching a player like Edgar Castillo and thinking, “He will never make it on this level,” and those thoughts never crossed your mind last night.
So, while he did not have the best game, what he did show was the ability to be dangerous at the highest level. Think back to the slicing run he made from an outside midfield spot to the top of the box late in the second half, or the penalty appeal he created by making the Mexican defender reach after he was beat. With a bit of training, Green should be a factor, and the pre-tournament training camp will be huge for this 18 year old.
Whether any of these three make the trip to Brazil is yet to be decided, but yesterday’s match against Mexico helped to increase their chances in landing a spot on Jurgen Klinsmann’s coveted 23-man roster.
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