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Brad Friedel

Brad Friedel

Johnson is excellent, but USA must do better

Tags: Sony Handycam ®, USA

When the World Cup started, if somebody said the United States would have four points heading into the Germany game I would have taken it, but the way we dropped those late points to Portugal makes it feel like a bit of a disappointment.

USA v Portugal: Group G - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil

I thought the game was riddled with mistakes, however those mistakes led to a very exciting game – especially at the end. That wasn’t great for the U.S, but they gave Portugal the smallest amount of hope to get through.

I thought we started the game completely the opposite of how we started the Ghana game. Obviously we scored after 30 seconds, but we looked to be on the front foot and looked to be putting pressure on Ghana early, whereas against Portugal for some reason we sat back and let them control the game for the first 15-20 minutes. I don’t know if that was a tactical approach, but it just looked really passive to me.

Obviously I was happy with scoring two more goals. I thought, once again, Jermaine Jones was excellent but for me our best player on the day was Fabian Johnson. His pace and willingness to go forward troubled Portugal throughout the game and most of our dangerous attacks came from his play. I also like the fact Clint Dempsey has scored two in two as we will need someone to catch fire if we are to progress far in this World Cup.

What concerned me is that other than our first half against Ghana our passing has been pretty average. I also didn’t like how we were so passive defensively and, especially in the first half, allowed Portugal to have time on the ball. I know the pitch wasn’t great and it was hot but if we are going to get into winning positions we have got to be more professional and kill games off instead of always just trying to defend games off.

I feel the U.S. dealt with Ronaldo well. We could all see he is struggling with his knee but he can still produce moments of magic. We saw his skill in the first half about 30 seconds before they scored their first goal and again on his cross for their equaliser. Other than that, he was quiet. I feel that was due to the poor passing by Portugal to him, his lack of fitness and also by trying to apply pressure to him.

I know there is plenty of criticism being levied against Michael Bradley. I don’t think he looks the force he can and has been in the past, but I also don’t think I would say he is struggling. He should’ve scored against Portugal and yes, he should not have lost control of the ball that led to Portugal’s equaliser but I still think he can be a game-changer for us.

Giving up the equaliser means we still have work to do to qualify, and it is far from a sure thing against a tough Germany team. If we don’t apply pressure to the ball once it’s in our half against the Germans we will have a long 90 minutes.

I did the Germany versus Ghana game and the Germans going forward are awesome. The movement of their front three and midfield three is something to see. In saying that, Ghana was able to get at them but only due to applying pressure in the attacking and middle thirds of the pitch and giving the Germans very little respect. If we respect them too much, again, it will be a long 90 minutes.

I know some will bring up the last World Cup meeting between the U.S. and Germany, which I played in at the 2002 World Cup. The reality I don’t see too many similarities to 2002 as this German team is much younger, and in my opinion, more talented, than the German team of 2002.

The U.S. will need to be full of confidence, energy and discipline to get at least the one point we need to ensure we progress to the second round.

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