The Yanks touch down in SA; Australia tune-up awaits

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So, the boys are now at altitude. JSpector says the early arrival helps alleviate the burning in your lungs, which crops up immediately and lasts about three days. Helloo, Azteca.

Bobbo called the 17-hour flight from DC to Joburg ‘easy.’ Right. The USMNT is staying at this place, the Irene Country Lodge, behind three-foot thick walls and amongst roosters and cows.

Some notes:

  • A word on one Robbie Findley. I’ve been critical of Mr. Findley, in this space and elsewhere, for his dipping form at RSL, his lack of polish… a number of things, really. Now this happened, and he’s suddenly Charlie Davies with Superman underwear.

    Look, far be it from me to come crashing down on RF’s day, which was, by all accounts, better than expected. But therein lies the problem, doesn’t it? His expectations were basement-low, and let’s be honest, Dempsey doesn’t belong up top. Didn’t take much to make an improvement there. He’s at his best making probing runs from the midfield. Is it any surprise that he scored his goal in the second half when he moved back?

    So to see someone with pace alongside Jozy… well, it suddenly seems as though we’ve got our own little Fernando Torres. Pump the brakes. Findley is nice, but I think a lot of his SA adventure will hinge on his performance against the Soceroos this weekend. Speaking of…

  • The Australian friendly is coming up this weekend, and it represents the final barometer for some of the fencers. Among those is what we’ll see next to Bradley at CM. Jose Torres’ performance has been dissected to a degree that seems to indicate most American fans have already make their choice. His defense can be suspect, but his creativity is unsurpassed.

    Barring some kind of meltdown, I think you’ll see Feilhaber on one flank and Torres next to him in the bottom of the 4-4-2 bucket. If only Beaz wasn’t robbed of his skill by some South African ninjas at last year’s Confed Cup…

  • Which brings us to the Achilles, the aching tendon of the Americans’ formation… the back line. Jonathan Bornstein… my god, man. Where did he learn to play? I think… I think you can make a case that he’s the worst USMNT defender of all time. He was supremely out of his depth against Turkey, and it’s one in a long line of failures. He looked like a hand puppet. So he’s all but out.

    Jonathan Spector did his best Ashley Cole impression on a deep run against the Turks in the first half last weekend, but he was swiftly dispossessed, and the counter resulted in a shockingly easy goal… on Spector’s side of the field… where Spector should have been.

    Remember when Claudio Reyna’s embarrassing error against Ghana led directly to a goal? Remember when Beasley made a similar gaffe against Brazil at the Confed Cup? At this level, it’s the small things that screw you out of positions, and Spector needs to be more consistent. And that’s not to say anything of Gooch’s injury, or the rotating carousel at LB. Dear God: please let the duct tape hold this month. Please?

  • Giuseppe Rossi was slashed from the Azzuri’s final 23. Comeuppance. Awesome.
  • Grahame Jones of the LA Times thinks the US belongs on a long-shot list for World Cup faves. Jones is kind of a legend, but… in other news, Clint Dempsey can’t make a normal face.

Here’s a Dempsey quote on the necessity of ball possession this month.

“The most important thing is possession. If you have not got it you are running yourself ragged and then, in those circumstances, when you do get it you are not able to do much with it. We have to be brave enough to get on the ball. That is the lesson from this match,” Dempsey said.

Ball possession has never been our strength, and the first half of the Turkey win sort of pounded that fact home. The second half was much more cohesive. If second-half US shows up, getting beyond the group stages is almost a foregone conclusion. If first-half/2006/1998 US shows up, this is going to be a short stay.

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