AMSTERDAM -- Three quick thoughts after the U.S.'s 2-1 loss to the Netherlands on Wednesday at Amsterdam ArenA:
* The U.S. was flattered by the scoreline. This was a game that was heavily reminiscent of the 2-0 loss the Yanks suffered at Wembley Stadium to England in 2008. Aside from some bright play by the U.S. in the final minutes (including Carlos Bocanegra's goal off a set-piece), the Dutch controlled nearly every aspect of this game, making sharp passes, playing quickly and keeping the U.S. on its heels down the wings and through the middle. It's always tough to play a Top 5 team on the road, but the U.S. was rarely able to threaten a sometimes suspect back line. José Torres was disappointing after getting the start in the central midfield, providing one good shot from outside the box but misfiring on several passes. Meanwhile, Landon Donovan and Jozy Altidore couldn't get much going on the offensive end. The Americans will have to hope for better as they get closer to the World Cup opener against England on June 12.
* Injuries hurt the U.S. more than other teams. If we've learned anything in 2010, it's that the Americans just don't have much depth. The U.S. was playing without four injured starters on Wednesday--Clint Dempsey, Oguchi Onyewu, Charlie Davies, Ricardo Clark--and it was no coincidence that the toughest games were had by players that wouldn't have started if those four had been healthy. Jonathan Bornstein struggled at left back, committing a foolish penalty on Wesley Sneijder, and had an unlucky deflection go off him for the second goal after moving to center back. As for forward Robbie Findley, he just doesn't have what it takes right now to play at this level. The U.S. missed Dempsey more than anyone. He's a player that has the cojones and the skill to play in a game like this.
* Michael Bradley was pretty solid. Of all the U.S. players, Bradley looked the most comfortable on the field, covering lots of ground, showing good instincts and displaying some effective vision in transition. Not many other U.S. players stood out in a positive way. Bocanegra was fairly solid in central defense and got free for his goal. DaMarcus Beasley had some good moments after coming on in the first half for Stuart Holden (who went off with a right shin contusion following a nasty challenge by Nigel de Jong). Maurice Edu had a useful 45 minutes after coming on at halftime for Torres. But that was about it.
What did you think of the game? Did anyone play themselves onto the World Cup roster? Did anyone play themselves off? How much is Dempsey missed?
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