The United States of America got off to a great start at the Beijing Olympics, getting a great opening result in a 1-0 win over Japan. Stuart Holden scored for the US, who needed this win badly before playing the other 2 teams in its group, Nigeria and the Netherlands. Lets take a look at some key points, both good and bad for the US.
1. Brian McBride Did Exactly What He Needed To Do
McBride was brought in to this Olympic squad for two reasons. 1. To mentor Jozy Altidore and co. and 2. Be the target man the United States has desperately needed since he retired in 2006. Although he did not score, McBride drew several fouls for the US, and played 75 minutes. This effectively gave Jozy Altidore the night off, as Altidore only played 15 min. While McBride still needs to get back to peak fitness, this speaks well for the US scoring chances against future opponents.
2. Maurice Edu scares me at Center Back.
Maurice Edu will one day be one of the most talented midfielders to ever put on a USA shirt. But as a center back, while he has great ball skills, he leaves something to be desired. He played well, but towards the end of the game, his play got extremely sloppy, and he was lucky to have not cost his team 2 points, after clearly fouling a Japanese player in the box. Edu will have to be better if the US hopes to advance.
3. Freddy Adu Played Well Today.
Adu had a great game. He was generally dangerous and ran at players, something most US players are loathe to do. he drew fouls, and was consistently double teamed by Japan. He’ll need to do a better job of finding the open man in the future, but he put in a good performance today.
4. The Ref Was Terrible.
The Ref today missed 2 penalties, 1 for each squad, and let Freddy Adu get basically manhandled by Japan. The US drew a few stupid yellow cards (Michael Bradley and Adu) but for the most part, he let things go and then called certain things. I’m hoping this does not become a tournament-wide issue.
In the end, the US was honestly lucky to walk out with the 3 points. While they performed well, they have a lot more to work on. Edu’s foul could have easily made this a tie, and if not for Japan’s missed chances, especially late, this could have been a terrible loss for the team.
All in all, 3 points is 3 points, but the US will have to be better against the Netherlands and Nigeria, otherwise they’ll be going home earlier than they expect to.