USA: Striker Wanted

Another day, it happens the same way. Team USA was handed its second loss of Copa America last night, this time at the hands of Paraguay.

It’s almost comical to watch at this point. The US clearly had more opportunities to win this game, and yet time and time again, these chances were flubbed by the terrible finishing of Eddie Johnson and Taylor Twellman, among others. It is pretty near impossible to win with strikers who are pass first, shoot second.

While Eddie Johnson has world class speed, once he actually touches the ball, he seems to lose all skill and poise, and either passes the ball backwards, or just plain blows a golden chance to score. It’s even sadder to see because we all see the skills he displays when he plays for his MLS team, Kansas City. Is the international game too fast for him to catch up to? Perhaps. But the only way to fix that is to keep playing. But he is killing this team right now. At 23, he still has plenty of time to make the adjustment and translate his skills from MLS to international play. But it needs to happen soon.

Taylor Twellman is a different story. He can’t seem to finish for this team, and his overall game seems to hinder the attack. His cleats are always top of the line and cool looking, so he does get style points. Too bad those don’t count for anything. In Copa, and in the Gold Cup, he had many opportunities to do something with the ball, only to either flail at it or get off a weak shot. He’s another that is terrible for the national team, yet tearing it up in MLS.

To me, that has to raise a few questions, namely, just what is the quality level of MLS? It is certainly not Premier League quality, even though you’ll have a hard time convincing Alexi Lalas of that. Is it the skill of Johnson and Twellman that allows them to score in MLS or are they just the product of shoddy defense and sometimes, luck?

Hopefully we get an answer to that question in the near future. I’d love to see both guys succeed, because their success translates to success for the national team. But right now, they are just liabilities out there, and it can’t stay that way if the US plans to compete for world glory.

It’s funny. This might not have been an issue if the US had convinced Giuseppe Rossi to not go to Italy and instead play for America. I understand that it was up to the player, but imagine how much better the national team would be if it had a go to forward it could count on. Johnson and Twellman can make us forget about Rossi, they have the talent to do so. Here’s hoping they can do it for us.

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