It's hard to rate performances of players in a game like this where we're basically playing another nation's U-23 squad
. I think my highlight of the day (from a 'look who we're playing against' standpoint) was seeing Petter Vaagen Moen on the field for the Norwegian squad.
Though he doesn't know it, Vaagen Moen starred for my Liverpool team in Championship Manager '05, bravely racking up an 8.17 career rating.
That said, three things stuck out at me today.
1 - We didn't play down to the level of our opponents. One of the things that's always gotten to me about the U.S. national team (and the Georgia Bulldogs, for that matter, in every sport but gymnastics and swimming -- yes, I paid attention to those sports in college) is that we would always play up or down to the level of our opponents.
On Sunday, though, the U.S. team came out and absolutely demolished their opponents. I can't remember a time (well, ok, a short burst after we scored the second goal) where we not in control of the game. Excellent job all around.
2 - Taylor Twellman. The guy, who has for the most part been on the schnide (is that really how we spell schnide?) in the colors of the red, white and blue (as opposed to being MVP in his club's red, white and blue) broke out with a hattie against the Norwegians. He did the first one with his foot and then twice pumped them in with his head.
Not much I can say about this but based on Il Bruce
's squad choices so far, Taylor seems to have one-up on the competition for the forward spot behind McBride and Johnson. The only bad thing I saw him do was come back too much to play defense. I imagine he was trying to impress Bruce with his hustle but in a World Cup setting he won't be able to play that much defense and realistically expect to start (I say this b/c he will take McBride's place in the event of an injury). He'd wear himself out.
3 - Clint Dempsey. I had heard that Clint had really improved during the offseason but I had no idea he thought he was MC Ronaldiñho out there. He had individual moves, played beautiful passes all over the park and even rifled one off the cross-bar that would have beaten even Petr Cech. He's my man of the match, not so much for what he did (which was brilliant) but that he, more than anyone else on the field, seems to have taken that next step over the winter.
Someone find out what's in his Wheaties and pass it around the squad. I wouldn't imagine we'll see much of Clint this side of the Atlantic once the World Cup is over. Someone in Europe is going to snatch him up.
4 - I know I said three things, but here's number four. Landon Donovan suffers from his own greatness. Here's what I mean: the guy absolutely runs the show for the American attack and is the primary reason I'm not worried if Reyna's hurt. Donovan works best as a #10 and seeing him distrubte the ball today just reminded me that he and Reyna play basically the same position and I think we're better with Donovan at the 10 than with Reyna at the 10 and Donovan at forward.
I think the strategy you saw today is how we will attack the bigger Czech and Italian teams. Spread the ball around, run 'til you puke and make them play defense.
Scoring early would help, also.