USA vs. Venezuela: Lucy, I’m Home!

Ricardo FTW!

The US’s January Cupcake Campers took on Venezuela’s B-minus side Saturday night in Glendale, Arizona.

And while the run of play favored the States, it was unlikely former scapegoat in Rico Clark who provided the only nail in the coffin as the US opened their pair of camp-closing games with a 1-0 victory.

Let’s just break in down good, bad and indifferent-style:

The Good

• Synergy at Centerback

The Venezuelans offered too much room for the States and Bill Hamid might as well’ve been already in his Phoenix club gear, but the partnership between Geoff “The Corporal” Cameron and Michael Parkhurst was solid–but rarely tasked–in tandem last night.

Both we’re active in managing both the line and their outside fullbacks–the latter in different ways. Cameron offered covered for an unfocused Heath Pearce by merely cleaning up anything that came through or over the top while Parkhurst played the angles when AJ DeLaGarza would forage forward.

US center midfielder Jermaine Jones might’ve had some audacious plays on the evening, but five (5) turnover left the backline under the potential for duress and all were snuffed out by Jurgen Klinsmann’s pairing.

A good opening bid for more time from botH.

The Bad

• A Little More Please

JJ: What did you expect?

Hard to judge “bad” in this game, but here’s the riddle: Don’t you expect a former Champion’s League club team starter and a World Cup vet to do just a little bit more in the middle of the field.

While Jermaine Jones and Benny Feilhaber were two of the best players on field Saturday night, both still should have done more with their opportunities.

For Jones, his first touch often betrayed him and his see-saw game saw one threaded pass here and one “did he really try that play” over there. Jones didn’t take his chances well either.

For Feilhaber, his onfield hissy fits after getting dragged down in the box are not the moxie you expect of a World Cup vet. Sure Feilhaber had his customary seeing-eye passes of brilliances put too often he didn’t do enough, was reactive or was caught pouting after a no-call. It’s the same thing from rec league on up. Certain referees call it certain ways. Adapt or die. A player with his pedigree should not only know that, but also be one of the voices of reasons for younger players.

Reaction Action

More on the reactive front. It was a common theme for a set of players not comfortable playing with one another yet.

It also started from the top where Teal Bunbury really didn’t show enough of any one skill to be considered a legitimate contender for US senior side action….if this was a single observation. Bunbury was challenged in hold-up play, late from time to time and seemed slow to comprehend what was going on. Teal will get better, but then again so will those around him.

The Indifferent Disclaimer

The level of play makes this a very difficult game to rate players. Some miscellaneous notes:

Pearce was usually late justifying himself with the backline...

• Heath Pearce didn’t acquit himself all the well on the left keeping Venezuelan attackers onside three times. Pearce with out the ball flowing through him seemed to float in and out of the game.

• Jeff Larentowicz was a non-factor, but that’s not a bad thing. In a game like this where, the other side was posing no threat, Larentowicz did his primarily defensive job and allowed Feilhaber and Jones to get forward.

• Chris Wondolowski, the extremely poor man’s Klaas Van huntelaar. It’s clear Wondo has a tremendous soccer brain and that–and a lethal right foot when he gets a rip–should give him squad looks (top 18) time to time.

Differing opinions on Graham Zusi, but the Sporting KC man was adept at one thing. Two-touching and moving the ball quickly. Zusi’s rate of play was good. he’ll get a look with the senior team and some point this year.

AJ DeLaGarza showed the speed that has allowed him to become a central defending force in MLS. The challenge at the international level will be the position. DeLaGarza can’t cross the ball and is better playing an attacker vertically rather than confronting a winger coming off the corner. A good utility man at some level.


On to Panama.

43 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by KKS on 2012/01/22 at 10:19 PM

    So, I didn’t watch the game, as I was traveling at the time, but here’s a question: Of Cameron and Parkhurst, who would pair best with someone like Oguchi Onyewu at the “A” level? I think they’re both intelligent, relatively swift center backs, but they seem to complement each other well. Looks like Klinsmann has a couple of decent options in the “offensive” center back role, which is nice.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/01/22 at 10:22 PM

      Parkhurst was his usual play the right angles self, but Geoff Cameron without the seasoning and with an abundance of more ability has a much higher ceiling. Wasn’t challenged last night at all in defense.

      I think Gooch however is a terrible positional defender — so to answer your question, well, tough question.

      It looks like Klinsmann might be settling on Cameron as Boca’s back-up. It’s the only reason I can think he has his on his weaker left foot at LCB.


      • Posted by KKS on 2012/01/22 at 10:41 PM

        I don’t know that I agree with your assessment of Gooch–at least not of the FINALLY healthy, in-form Gooch of today, as opposed to the off-form, pre-Gold Cup, post-knee injury Gooch of a year ago. His positional sense gets better, I think, as his confidence grows–that is, his main positional fault is tentativeness and/or a lack of mobility, rather than simply not knowing where he’s supposed to be. His dominating form of 2009 is evidence of that, and given that he’s been starting regularly for Sporting CP, I think that ability and willingness to get where he needs to be has returned.

        But thanks for the answer. I do like what I’ve seen of Cameron, and I think pairing him with a healthy Omar Gonzalez would work nicely for the USMNT of 2014 (when Gooch will be 32 and Bocanegra 35).


      • Posted by Berniebernier on 2012/01/23 at 5:51 AM

        This what i find confusing. You seem to be very high on Cameron’s performance (as we’re many other reviews I read) however you say he wasn’t challenged at all. Not sure why everyone is so high without that person being challenged. Performance under challenge is the most important role as a CB. I almost fell like Cameron gets an INC like a late minute sub.


        • Cameron wasn’t challenged in the “Ronaldo with a full head of steam” way, however defenders (when doing well) make it look like they aren’t doing anything at all. It is only when they mess up (see Per Mertesacker) that you notice poor positioning.

          While the Cameron/Parkhurst duo didn’t have someone continually challenging them, they did what they needed to do, which is more than you can say about some of our defensive performances this year.


          • hah! just realized I said “This Year”, which is my first 2012 mess up. Good times.


          • There was one play where the ball was played over the top to the right side of the box and Cameron had to run it down, jostling an attacker the entire way and eventually winning the space and forcing the attacker to ground without actually fouling him. I can’t remember seeing any of our old guard doing that, though there’s a good chance that my memory is selective because this game is much more recent in my mind.


          • Posted by Berniebernier on 2012/01/23 at 2:33 PM

            Lets agree to disagree. Yes, he did what they needed to but it wasn’t enough for me to judge Cameron as the answer to our CB problems. I just don’t think he stood out. At the end of the game I wasn’t saying, Cameron played great. The “press” seems to say I missed something.


            • The “press” is generally wrong to some extent. Unless it’s Jonathan Wilson.

            • “but it wasn’t enough for me to judge Cameron as the answer to our CB problems”

              Completely agree.

            • Posted by Jared on 2012/01/23 at 4:28 PM

              Definitely didn’t do enough to prove to be the answer. Takes way more than one game to do that. It was a more promising performance against that level of competition than we’ve seen from a lot of the second tier defenders.

  2. I thought you were spot on with Bunbury. His shot after the beautiful set up wasn’t even respectable. He may be wishing he had stayed to play with Canada.

    Very pleased with the back line as a whole, but Pearce was a little behind the others. De la Garza seemed to be in his own world at times. Didn’t see enough from Zach Loyd.


  3. Posted by Gino on 2012/01/22 at 11:34 PM

    I accidentally turned on the TV last night right at the 90 minute mark with the score showing 0-0. I quickly changed the channel and considered not watching it on the DVR fearing a wasteful two hours. Why bother since this was a Camp Cupcake roster playing against lower tier competition right? I was glad I tuned in because it was a much better showing for the US than I expected.

    I enjoyed watching the cohesiveness and creativity that two weeks of practicing together produced. Yeah, there were wasted opportunities and some hiccups here and there but that’s to be expected from a “B” team. I wondered how well the senior team would execute Klinsmann’s concepts with an extended camp.

    I’ll check out the Panama game for sure now just to see how the players improve and how they’ll perform on the road in a CONCACAF opposing stadium.


  4. Posted by Tyler on 2012/01/23 at 5:40 AM

    @ TSG Staff: Wouldn’t it be cool if you culled some of the best of the live or immediate commentary from the open thread commentary in your post game post? I love reading the commentary from the community, but I am sure that some in the community are not interested in wading through all of the “GOOOOOAAALLLL” type comments to find the gems that are worth sharing with everybody.


    • I’m a fan of that idea, especially since some guys are posting up their takes on the game as a whole after it’s over but before Matt and the rest of TSG can post up their game review.


    • Posted by Marmaduke on 2012/01/23 at 7:42 AM

      Hear, hear!


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/01/23 at 11:27 AM

      Will try and do this for Wednesday — you guy help by adding something you want TSG to reference. Cheers.


      • Posted by chazcar2 on 2012/01/23 at 11:50 AM

        Its a bit of a technical/web upgrade, but a rec/like button on comments would be a nice improvement to the site. Anything with 3-4 recs could get bumped into the post game review.


      • Posted by Crow on 2012/01/23 at 2:18 PM

        I vote for “thebostinian’s” quick hits post. Very succint, covers all areas, and most important I agree with everything! LOL


  5. Posted by obxfly on 2012/01/23 at 7:47 AM

    One other thing that needs to be rated with this game is the announcers. I like Twellman better than Harkes but found myself wanting to turn off the sound a few times.


  6. Posted by Marmaduke on 2012/01/23 at 7:51 AM

    Benny really does have to get a handle on the hissy fits. It’s really hurting the Revs, too. I’ll take the good and bad of his creativity, but I’d really like to see some more maturity from him now that he’s more of a veteran.

    Berniebernier: I’m admittedly a biased fan of Cameron’s already, but I think he deserves the high ratings. I think the level of competition has to be somewhat separate from the rating; it has to be considered more by those of us reading the ratings. Compare Cameron to what a on on form Gooch or Bocanega does in this game. I think its on par with that. We’ll see what happens in a tougher game. Will he step up or go all Tim Ream on us.

    Until he’s tested, though, the fact remains that (in this game) he and Parkhusrt were extremely organized and he possessed and passed the ball well.


    • Posted by Berniebernier on 2012/01/23 at 4:33 PM

      I am very high on Cameron.

      I was not even getting into level of competition and more on what he had the opportunity to do. My take was that Cameron didn’t have sufficient opportunities to display that he was a top class CB (I think he would have particularly against this team). I don’t think there was more than a handful plays that he was required to make and none of those plays were “difficult”.

      Did we see him defend a single corner or cross? Did we see him shut someone down 1 v 1? Did we see him have to take on a player running at him?

      I feel about Cameron and Parkhurst sort of like I feel for Hamid. I have no real new information to judge him.


      • Posted by Martin on 2012/01/24 at 8:06 AM

        All three had opportunities to screw up and they did not, not really. As a defense they kept a clean sheet.

        One game is not definitive but they could have hurt their chances to play more games and based on their peformance they did not.

        Their performance did not win them any jobs, that was never going to happen just based on this one game, but it didn’t get them banished to outer darkness either.

        Basically, they get to keep trying out for a job.

        If you are going to drop people from further consideration based on the kind of performance those three had then you will probably have rendered this entire camp useless.


  7. […] and have player ratings for Saturday’s friendly while the Shin Guardian has its own take on the […]


  8. Posted by dikranovich on 2012/01/23 at 9:48 AM

    it has not really shown yet through goals, but the usa sure seems to be producing more striker options. cj sapong looks like a beast and between him, teal, agudelo, jozy, and a couple others. usa might just have the luxury of going with the inform striker during this world cup cycle. come on charlie, get yourself back into the mix.

    we might see a 4-4-2 tomorrow night. it would be fun to see both bunbury and sapong, but maybe wondo gets the start. benny up top of a diamond and footstomper with the armband again.


  9. Posted by matthewsf on 2012/01/23 at 10:20 AM

    I think part of the US is doing is insuring that they win with numbers up the field. It’s probably Klinsmann’s goal to win with a safe 5 in the midfield, but as you say they don’t gain the chances.

    I think JK’s coming to that conclusion. The US could really truly use a smart “full package” striker–not necessarily a world beater–to see what an advancing Shea, Dempsey and Donovan can do.

    I have no idea who that is and at present couldn’t tell you who else should get an early look. My best bets for that are Agudelo and Omar Salgado (having not seen Terrence Boyd play even once.) Altidore is too erratic for that role and Buddle is almost that role, but doesn’t possess the speed, 1-on-1 play at the int’l level for it.


    • Agudelo has shown those moments of individual brilliance, and I haven’t seen Salgado play yet…but something tells me that Klinsy is gonna go hunting Germans to find one. And I’m completely okay with that.


      • Posted by dikranovich on 2012/01/23 at 11:35 AM

        dempsey is going to be playing more of a striker role this cycle. with shea and donovan wide. id like to see dempsey up top with anyone of agudelo, jozy, or sapong. feilhaber is going to become a favorite player for coach klinsmann and he will become that creative distributor that will feed this growing crop of talent.


    • Posted by chazcar2 on 2012/01/23 at 12:24 PM

      With dempsey’s form of the last year I could see him in a single striker setup. I know it kind sucked in the GC final but 4-6-0? or a fluid 4-1-2-3.


      Maybe WingFwd as a Hybrid Hold up Stiker/Winger. One of Altidore, Teal, Agudelo, Shea, Fabian, Sapong, Zusi or an olympian. Someone to drift into the box when dempsey drops deeper. I could see this dropping to a 4-3-2-1

      Donavon—-Def Mid—-Bradley

      I guess my point is in a the idea of someone to hold the ball at midfield as a outlet from the defense, but the to get high and wide when the offense starts to set up.


  10. Could someone please explain why Geoff Cameron is “The Corporal”? Is that a real nickname from Houston fans or his college career, is he ex-military, or did you guys just make that up and choose to roll with it in hopes of it catching on?


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/01/23 at 12:34 PM

      I can’t divulge that yet.


      • Posted by Antonio H. on 2012/01/23 at 12:54 PM

        “The Captain” would be better suited, as officers tend to get more leway regarding their do’s. :>


        • But Boca’s the captain. There really isn’t much of an opening for that spot.


          • Posted by Gregorio on 2012/01/23 at 4:09 PM

            Captain’s are officers who don’t work!! the grunts do the work. Corporal is rather subservant, afterall they are calling MBNoventa Bradley, General or Sarge according to internet reports. How about we come up with our own name? Unless the coroporal has a juicy origin. I say something referencing his McFly haircut will suffice.


    • Posted by fan of football on 2012/01/23 at 2:39 PM

      gotta be the hair-do, and “the corporal” is better than “the preppy commando”


  11. Posted by Crow on 2012/01/23 at 2:23 PM

    Not many people talked about the announcers. Don’t get me wrong- I was the happiest person on Earth when John Harkes was let go but there were certainly some uncomfortable moments on Saturday. I apologize for forgetting the play-by-play announcer’s name (and I think he is a nice guy), but you can tell that English is not his first language. He did a decent job, though, but the first few minutes were very uncomfortable. You could tell he knew what he wanted to say in Spanish and he was trying to pick the right words in English. It was funny hearing English come across that way- the word choice- alot of recuperating players! LOL

    Taylor really hung him out to dry sometimes by not even responding to prompts.


    • Next time…. Galavision. It was fantastic.


      • Posted by Gregorio on 2012/01/23 at 4:13 PM

        Galavision was a hoot, they became enamored with “Capt. Jones or Capt Germane!” y Beeg (Big) Red Larentowicz.. Although they didn’t really call out the Boonbooree, but it could be from his ho-hum game.


  12. Posted by crow on 2012/01/23 at 3:44 PM

    Redemption for Ricardo Clark! LOL. Gotta love the postgame interview. “I haven’t played in a game…. for awhile”


  13. Posted by Brian on 2012/01/23 at 5:28 PM

    The most encouraging thing from this match is that US players can have success playing JK’s system of possession and playing out of the back. Was the game played perfectly, no, but the US constantly played the ball out of the back to the midfield rather than booting it up to the forwards, and there was a willingness to work the ball around and try to break down the defense through attacking. If the ‘A’ team can’t get it together by the 2013 GC, it will be interesting to see what an extended camp will do for them like this camp did for the MLSers


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