The United States had a plethora of chances directly in front of goal in the first half of their group matchup with Guadeloupe, but failed to convert any. Ironically, the furthest and most speculative shot they would take all night was the one that ended up beating the keeper.
It was Jozy Altidore that gave the US their lead with an absolute stunner from 25 yards out. The shot showed off that mix of confidence and a thunderous right foot that had so many US fans excited about Altidore when he made his debut. However, frustration has grown as his performances over the past year have been inconsistent. This wonder strike tonight just might start to assuage some of the fears that Altidore growth as a scoring threat has been stunted. Here's the video if you didn't see it.
Otherwise, it was a largely frustrating first half for the US, although for completely different reasons than the frustration against Panama. Unlike the previous game, the US has had tons of chances with many coming from as near as 6 yards out, but they’ve failed to convert on any. Some of that can be down to some great goaltending, but some of the USA’s big guns should be doing better.
Clint Dempsey (twice) and Landon Donovan have both missed sitters. Chris Wondolowski, who made the squad on the back of the good job he’s done finishing in MLS this year, has had three close shots saved. None are as bad as his embarrassing miss against Panama and you do have credit the keeper for making some great saves… but in the end the US forwards just need to do a better job putting the ball in the net. They’re creating chances and have been very active, but the fact that they only have one goal to show for all the chances they’ve had is worrying.
The US defense has been worlds better than we saw over the weekend. Tim Ream was benched in favor of captain Carlos Bocanegra in the center of defense and Eric Lichaj has been deployed on the left. It has ended up being an upgrade in both spots. Bocanegra has been much better than the inexperienced Ream and Lichaj has actually gotten forward and been more useful in attack than Bocanegra was at left back. There is a pretty good chance that this will be the back four going forward in this tournament.
I also want to give a quick shout to Jermaine Jones, who has been so much better this evening than he was against Panama. His distribution was just terrible in that game, but has been worlds better tonight. Routinely, he has been hitting those long, 40-50 yard passes across the field to open men (usually Lichaj) streaking down the flanks. It’s really played a big part in creating chances and opening up Guadeloupe.
Still just one goal though…