A late Wales equalizing penalty felt like a gut punch to a U.S. team on the verge of a statement-making win.
Grant, I'm going to respectfully disagree with your assessment of the game and I'm a bit surprised by how much you seem to be letting the US off the hook in this game. Obviously, I'm not there on the ground feeling the atmosphere or talking to people, so I know a lot less than you do. But...
What I saw sitting in my basement watching alone was a game that was dictated by Wales' tactics rather than dictated by US tactics/skill/personnel. Wales played a very low and tight block for the first half. The US was able to take all the time in the world moving the ball up and around but din't do much with it. When Wales did try to push up a bit they got exposed on a US transitional attack and the US got a beautiful goal (credit to all of the US players involved in the goal - it was fantastic). If Wales had chosen to stay with that plan in the 2nd half I think the US would have probably won 2-0.
But Wales didn't. They changed things up pretty significantly (not just a minor tactical switch) in the second half. The sub led to two major changes for the Welsh approach. 1) They went over the US press and by-passed the midfield to avoid dangerous turnovers. 2) After forcing the ball deeper into the US half they pressed consistently. The US didn't find an effective way to counter this tactical change. Gasses legs, poor substitutions, and some confused looks were the response. I look at the penalty that Zimmerman gave up like a forced error in tennis. The Welsh created that situation through their tactics and play. Zimmerman says he didn't see Bale and I believe him. When I watch the foul, Zimmerman was looking to his left and went to ground to clear the ball, not make a tackle on Bale. Bale came from Zimmerman's blind side and snuck into the space between Zimmerman and the ball. Wales created pressure on the defense, got the ball into the box, create some chaos and things happened. This foul was the result of what Wales did during the second half rather than some bad-luck fluke.
If the game had played out in the reverse I would feel a lot better about the overall US situation. I'd be talking about a disappointing start but that the US coaches and team recognized what wasn't working and adjusted very effectively and should be disappointed to not get a 2nd goal/winner after driving most of the play in the second half. I give a lot of credit to Wales and how they adjusted and played the 2nd half. I worry about how inflexible the US is in their approach.
If the goal for the US team is to show up and get their World Cup participation award (and have fun hanging out in the team lounge and thinking about what could be) and then go back home, I'd say they accomplished their goal in today's game. If the goal is to progress, this was a big missed opportunity.
I'm curious to see how the US comes out in the England game. I hope they're pissed off and play with a chip on their shoulder and some anger that they channel into a complete 90 minutes.
Grant, thanks again for all your hard work, great stories, bravery, and sharing. I deeply appreciate what you're doing and am proud to be a Founding Supporter of your project.
Sorry, but the Zimmermann foul was not 'unlucky'. It was a bad play. Period. For a defender to foul an opponent in the box with their back to the goal, is bad. Very bad. Just be honest.
You mention in the photo caption that CP’s set piece service could have been better. It seems there are divided opinions on his overall performance. In the second half there were a few times where he seemed to slow up play rather than be aggressive on the counter (which seems like what you’d want to do when Wales presses forward); thinking of a particular sequence when Timmy was breaking down the right side, which was begging for a through ball. CP took the safe option, which could have also been due to GGG’s tactics in the moment.
Balancing that is his assist (obviously). So it’s not like he was bad, but just not transcendent as we’d hoped.
Could this be the pressure he’s putting on himself? Or maybe he’s at his ceiling, as a really good player but not among the true greats? I know it’s only one game, but the World Cup has a way of increasing the scrutiny on these single matches.
Other than Kellyn Acosta, none of the subs did much of anything to affect the game. I suppose you could say that Brendan Aaronson tried, but the subs just didn't match the intensity level of the players who had been on the pitch from the start.
I do not believe in this team. The “superstars “ either don’t deliver or don’t play. Pulisic made a beautiful assist but that is not enough for him. Reyna might as well still be nursing his hammy. And I don’t care if Sargent did the dirty work…..that position is a waste of space for the US. As are our set pieces. Turner saved us from losing the match. McKinnie did nothing of note. And Gregg seemed lost in the second half. Seriously, having watched us back into qualifying ( loss to Costa Rica wasn’t by a large enough margin to disqualify us), and come up flat in the second half yesterday with everything on the line, who seriously believes this team can qualify for the knockout round? I know there are folks who believe that if they root hard enough, the team will win. But aside from the fairly tale people, who seriously thinks we can beat England? Or even tie England? And once we are under that pressure ( two matches and one point), the Iran game seems beyond our capacity as well. This team has not once done what everyone believes …. Or wants to believe about them….. that they can win a big game at a big moment. They are not good enough. Watch and see. There will be no upside surprise here. Sorry. But I have seen nothing in the past year to make me a believer. Not once. I started to believe with Weah’s goal against Wales, and then the second half happened.
Grant, good read. What do we hear or what did you observe re the impact of fatigue and any cause? Very late local time start? Adrenaline loss in 2nd half vs 1st? Lack of 90 min fitness due to club playing time/injuries? Humidity? Pressing game plan? In-game knocks? Curious.
Insanity that Zimmerman feels he got the ball. Let’s just hope it doesn’t go down as the crushing blow to making it through because that’s the type of “stink” that doesn’t wash off.. a reputation maker / sealer.
I’ll try until I see him on the ground whining for a flag .
We don't have to beat England. A tie would be fine. We need a positive result of any kind. It can happen. Got to earn our place in the second round. The Wales draw hurts, but is not catastrophic...yet.
I notice you refer to Antonee Robinson, not Jedi as you have for the last several months. Have you changed your mind on what to call him, or was it just a moment because most everybody else is saying Antonee?
Great analysis and great article. But losing that match to Wales ( a tie bd a win) will cost this team. We can’t beat England, and we will food under the pressure to Iran. It is hard to hold on when you can’t score goals. And this team can’t score goals.