By Melissa Turtinen
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Spain played effortlessly. They moved the ball where they needed to and passes were perfect, and if they weren’t they recovered smoothly not giving the United States Men’s National Team a chance to gain control of the ball.
Spain defeated the USMNT, 4-0, on Saturday and with the chances they had it should have been more. Spain proved that they deserve to be called the best team in the world with their control and perfect ball placement throughout the match.
“Three times now we’ve had a chance to play them and every time, believe me, you walk away incredibly impressed with how good they are,” said Bob Bradley, USMNT manager. “How they’re able to move the ball so intelligently, so skillfully. Just as you’re trying to close them down, the ball is already off and somewhere else. There’s not that many teams in the world that can show you that.”
Spain started the match in complete control. They had chances right away carrying the ball down the sides as the US attempted to clog the middle.
“You try and not let them come right through the center because they are so adept at opening up these little windows and getting people running through and playing balls. Yet, as you try to close that part away they’ve got plan B,” said Bradley.
Spain had a Plan B and it was successful. Spain moved the ball through the USMNT defense with ease. If the middle was crowded they took the ball down the flanks and crossed it in – the clogged middle seemed empty as Spain continuously moved the ball towards the goal.
Spain tallied two goals using “plan B” – Spain’s first goal came as David Silva moved the ball down the left side and crossed it to Santiago Cazorla in the 28th minute. Silva created Spain’s third goal much like the first after he carried the ball down the flank and sent it to Cazorla in the middle in the 41st minute.
During the first half, Spain didn’t give the US a chance to make any plays or control the ball for more than a few consecutive passes. When Spain gave up possession – as rarely as it happened – they recovered without missing a step.
“As good as Spain is with the ball, they pressure you quickly,” said Bradley. “So you have players that are accustomed to a little more time to release a pass, a little more time to get into a spot to receive a pass, and all of the sudden [on Saturday] the windows are smaller, they close down faster, and you find again that getting out of these tight spots is a little more difficult.”
The US improved in the second half and controlled the ball more, entered the box more often and had a few more chances – none of which prevailed.
“I think that there were a few times in the second half where we were able — through a little movement and through a little bit of confidence — to put them on their heals a little bit. It still didn’t amount to enough but we weren’t able to sustain it long enough,” said US midfielder Michael Bradley.
Alvaro Negredo tallied Spain’s second goal in the 32nd minute after Xabi Alonso played a perfect ball down the middle. Fernando Torres tallied Spain’s fourth goal from Borja Valero in the 73rd minute and Spain controlled play for the reminder of the match to assure an easy win in the international friendly.
Melissa Turtinen is a contributing writer for The Soccer Guys.