U.S. Men's National Team
Graham Zusi: 'We Weren't Good. We Can't Dwell on It'
September 03, 2017
HARRISON, N.J.—Once again in this World Cup qualifying campaign, the U.S. men's national team’s is up against the wall.
The 2-0 loss to Costa Rica on Friday night has left the Americans in a more precarious position in the Hexagonal standings, as they remain in third place but with only one point now separating them from fifth—with three games remaining.
While well aware that its performance needs to improve in Tuesday’s visit to Honduras, the Yanks do not plan to obsess over the result. Pressure and outside criticism may be mounting yet again, but the team knows it needs to focus simply on trying to bounce back.
“We’re going to have to have a short memory when it comes to this next game,” right back Graham Zusi said after the Costa Rica match. “We weren’t good, we know that, but we can’t dwell on it. We have to move forward and prepare for Honduras.
“Any time you lose you’re going to be frustrated, but this is a team that’s always showed a tough mentality and when the cards are down then we play our best.”
The Americans certainly need to hope that is the case. They were second best across most positions on the field, and it is likely that we will see at least a few changes to the lineup. Potential candidates to be replaced are centerbacks Geoff Cameron and Tim Ream, each of whom made mistakes that led to goals, and even starting goalkeeper Tim Howard.
Two players who seem safe—for the moment—are Michael Bradley and Darlington Nagbe. Bradley and Nagbe comprised the central midfield tandem for the U.S. on Friday, and head coach Bruce Arena was pleased with what he saw out of them.
Well, at least more pleased than with what he saw out of the majority of the rest of his squad.
“Darlington and Michael were not the problem in our game,” Arena said in his post-game press conference. “Our back line made some mistakes. We didn’t come up with any big saves. Our attacking players weren’t dangerous on the night. I thought Darlington and Michael had solid games.”
One guaranteed difference for Tuesday’s match for the U.S. is that Jozy Altidore will not start. Altidore is suspended for the game due to yellow card accumulation after earning a caution in the 80th minute against Costa Rica.
The most obvious replacement for Altidore is veteran Clint Dempsey, but Arena also has Jordan Morris and Chris Wondolowski at his disposal. A one-forward alignment is also a possibility.
“It’s disappointing," Altidore said. "It’s really disappointing, but I don’t think much will be missed. I think we have a lot of very good attackers.”
The U.S. attack has to be better in order for the team to have a shot at picking up three sorely needed points in Honduras, but the onus is on the Americans as a whole to perform better than it did against Costa Rica. They have to, too, as their World Cup dreams are still hanging in the balance.
“Now the approach is we’re going to go down there with the mentality to win the game,” Bradley said. “We’re going to be aggressive and make sure we have 11 guys on the field who are ready to give everything, and we will. If at the end of 90 minutes we’re in a position where we take one point, then we’ll take that, and then everything is still in our own hands the last two games.”