Match Notes: Lessons Learned from USA vs. Cuba

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Maybe I am just lazy, but I really don’t want to make any judgements or assumptions on the USA squad based off a win against a Cuba side that one of my Brittish friend’s would refer to as, “essentially a pub team.”

Be that as it may, I will give one player compliment and one team concern.

The sweet before the sour. Pretty much everyone was impressive tonight. Corona’s hat trick was very well taken, Diskerud did a nice job MIXing (get it?) up the combinations in the middle, and we all know what Freddy Adu is capable of when he is at his best, but the man that caught my eye was substitute, Joe Gyau.

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From the moment he stepped on for Brek Shea (possibly the U-23’s star man) in the 57th minute, you could tell there wasn’t going to be a drop in the level of play. Gyau’s speed, silky touch and willingness to take on defenders makes it clear why he is so close to breaking into the first team at Hoffenheim. I have no doubt in my mind that Gyau can preform at the same level against more talented teams in the qualifying tournament.

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The midfield is packed with talent and while it may be hard for Gyau to unseat Shea or Adu on the flanks, his speed and guile off the bench puts him in prime position to be the late game hero or the “super-sub” if you will.

Now “B negative” is my blood type and my motto so I can’t let a 6-0 win go by without finding some fault with something. On the few occasions that Cuba ventured forward, the center of the defense looked rather shaky. The scariest moment came in the 22nd minute when Perry Kitchen was lucky not to receive a yellow card for holding back a Cuban attacker when it looked like he was about to fly by Kitchen and be off to the races. It was a moment that prompted Ives Galarcep to tweet, “A few nervy moments for the USA centerbacks leave me wondering how they'd handle El Salvador's quickness. They need to tighten things up.”

The only natural center-back on the US roster, Ike Opara, had a rather solid performance however. Ike put in an industrious shift and even got an assist on Freddy Adu's snipe goal. Ike will have to continue to perform at a very high level if he is to carry this susceptible back-line to London.  

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We all knew going into the tournament that the defense is the possible “Achilles heel” of this talented side. Suggestions are that if the US qualify for London, AT LEAST ONE of the three overage players that will come into the squad will most likely be selected to shore up the back-line. However the US still needs to safely navigate its way through the qualifying tournament first.

That US can ill-afford to allow teams to beat them for speed right down route one. A long ball over the top or a through ball between the center backs, and all of a sudden the US could be in trouble.

Get more great soccer stuff over at US Futblog.


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