By Kevin Koczwara
After watching yesterday’s international friendly between the United States and the Netherlands I examined Jonathan Bornstein’s game. I watched him closely as he lined up as the USMNT left-back, once again, and saw nothing new from him. There was little improvement and there were so many major mistakes on his part, one cost the Untied States a goal.
So what happened and why wasn’t Bornstein subbed earlier in the game?
The issue of left-back will haunt the United States until the squad gets to the World Cup if Bornstein continues to get chances out on the left flank. He has shown, time and again, that someone else needs to step up in place of him. And Bradley needs to finally get it through his thick skull that this guy cannot compete on the international level, right now.
Bornstein’s penalty in the first half was horrendous. Wesley Sneijder had every right to fall the way he did, he got in space, beat the American defender, and had his shirt tugged. Bornstein was lucky to get out of the tug without a card, which is usually a yellow for the intention in the action.
Now, the Dutch aren’t an easy team to defend against, especially with the likes of Robben, Sneijder, and Van der Vaart in the attack. The Netherlands qualified for the World Cup and are a top sides in the world, like the teams the U.S. will be playing come June. El Salvador and Cuba aren’t at the World Cup for a reason, so the U.S. needs to show they can play with sides like the Netherlands. More importantly, they need to show they can defend against the best teams in the World.
For the most part the United States did a good job. DeMerit and Bocanegra were solid in the middle and Spector was strong on the right side. Bornstein was the weak link in the defense and going forward. He got caught out of position a few times, couldn’t link up with Donovan, and read the game poorly. When he was moved into DeMerit’s spot in the middle after a substitution, the second goal came, right in front of Bornstein. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar‘s shot deflected off of Bornsteain right into the net.
The United States would get one goal back but would ultimately lose 2-1 in Amsterdam.
Bradley Needs to Make A Decision
Bradley needs to give up on Bornstein for now. We saw what happens when the Chivas USA player is put up against some of the best players in the world: he gets abused. It is time Bradley give up for now and make due with some other options that he has.
I am glad I am not the only one who feels this way about Bornstein.
U.S. Defense Can Improve
I would have liked to have seen more time for Heath Pearce in the game as he deserved it after playing so well in the El Salvador qualifier. He has good pace. He can cross the ball and is a good passer. He has experience outside of the MLS and has fought for his place for the left-back position.
Jay DeMerit and Carlos Bocanegra worked hard in the middle and had to clean up a lot of the errors the midfield made. They handled all of the creative passes and movement the Dutch could through at them. During their time together on the field, they only allowed the one goal from the penalty spot that their left-back got them in. With DeMerit’s tenacity and Bocanegra’s skill in the middle of the defense, the USMNT can be a stingy squad come the World Cup.
Jonathan Spector had another solid game at right-back. He tracked back well, linked up with Stuart Holden–until he broke his leg in the first half– and DeMarcus Beasley. He had a few errand crosses, but when he whips in so many good ones, you can forgive a missed hit every once and a while.
Spector could move to left-back in the future. When he plays for West Ham United he plays on the left-side of their defense and has shown that he can adapt to either side. He is right-footed, making the transition a little more difficult, but he can do it and has showed that in the English Premier League.
If the United States hopes to make an impact at this years World Cup, they need to sure up the left-back position ebcause right now it is int he missing link in their defense, and that could cost them dearly.
Kevin Koczwara can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org